If this year has taught us anything, it’s how much we value the people we have in our lives.
The loving support bubble of friends and family, the loyal clients who keep us on a steady income with repeat work, the customers who’ve been with us from day one and are our biggest fans, the “instagram besties” who like and share all the projects we’re working on and give us a mini virtual high five of support.
Community is everything. It’s our source of inspiration, our place to turn to when things get tough, our means to growing our business and our key to finding success. But how do you build an engaged community and where can you find fellow entrepreneurs to connect and grow with?
Start with who
Who do you want to be in your community? Who is your target audience? What kind of industry experts would you love to learn from to get better at your craft? What sorts of brands do you want to be working with? Imagine your dream community around you filled with inspiring people, amazing businesses and engaged customers and clients. What exactly does it look like?
Knock down the old and start building the new
As we all know, algorithms on social media are not always our friend and they can stop us seeing the posts we really want to see. To ensure you’re getting the most out of your time online and effectively growing your community, unfollow accounts that don’t do one of the following: inspire, support or bring you value. Every post you see should either be from someone you want to learn from, who you want to work with, or who will help you and your business grow. Ditching what doesn’t bring your value is vital to helping you grow. Now, start building.
Research and follow
Interested in learning more about a certain field? Follow hashtags on LinkedIn and instagram. You’ll start to find and follow people who resonate with your goals and interests, and when you have, you can tap into their communities too! Just scroll through to see who they follow or whose posts they engage with and you’ll find a whole new group of people to bring into your community!
Send some love letters
It’s not enough to just spy on people from afar. If they don’t know you exist, then they’re not in your community. Reach out to people who you admire and tell them! Who doesn’t want to receive a lovely message from someone who loves what you do and feels inspired by their work? The answer is no one, so don’t be shy! And if you have mutual connections, ask for an intro! Your community is full of valuable connections so use them to help expand your network!
Get social on socials
The lucky thing about living in a digital age is the accessibility to the millions of people who inhabit the world. LinkedIn is the perfect place to network and really get to know the person on the other side of the screen. Comment on peoples posts and share your own stories! Ask questions to your audience and make sure to answer their replies. Relationships take time to build.
Do the groundwork
Want to work with a founder? Head to their LinkedIn Page and learn about them. What’s their previous work experience? What hobbies do they have? What topics do they choose to talk about in their posts? Find a common denominator and tailor your intro in accordance with it! Want to work with a specific brand? Checkout the employee tab, see who works there and look at what experience they have. Have a look on their socials and see what sorts of businesses they partner with. Learn what they’re looking for first, so that you can present your skills as perfectly aligning with them. New clients and collaborators are only a DM away!
Join Community Groups
There are a whole host of amazing Groups out there to support women in business where you can find people just like you who want to grow and engage with likeminded people and build a support network around them. Found & Flourish is the place for female founders who want to flourish in business! With weekly events, hugs and brunch check-ins, network opportunities and buddy up systems to keep members accountable, they really do have it all. If you’re a freelancer or want to become one then UnderPinned is the platform for you! With resources, tools and a network of over 6,000 freelancers to connect with, it’s never been easier to build your career from the ground up. You can meet freelancers inside our Virtual Office, or on our Educational Courses. Wherever you are on your freelance journey there’s something for you!
My last piece of advice would be to just be you. People are drawn to real people who have honest and engaging stories. Share those stories with your community, and see how it attracts the people you want to bring into your network. Be raw, share your experiences, offer the highs and lows, explain your backstory and tell your audience exactly what inspired you to start your business in the first place. Storytelling is such a powerful tool, and word of mouth can spread fast when someone has something inspiring to share. So put yourself out there, show the world who you are, and watch your following flourish into a valuable community.
About your author
Emily Murray is the Head of Community at UnderPinned, a career building platform for UK based freelancers. Over the past two years in this role, she has grown a community of over 6,000 freelancers, executed over 70 events, built partnerships with more than 100 small businesses, interviewed 50 entrepreneurs and founders and has built an engaged following of over 16,000 across UnderPinned’s social media platforms.
You can find out more about Emily and her business here.
Meet Camilla and Andrea, Co-Founders of the bathroom product brand Milly & Sissy!
After leaving a job I’d worked years for and spending most of lockdown doing every bit of prep possible, reading any and every book I could find, and listening to hours of podcasts on my daily walks, nothing quite prepares you for Day 1.
Lockdown and the last 6 months have highlighted something really powerful to me. So many high achieving women that I’ve spoken to recently have described how powerful being forced to stop has been.