I’m going to start out with two big assumptions; that you understand the basics of social media and are communicating with your market instead of just selling to them. If you are reading modern marketing blogs you should already have a good grasp on the idea that consumers are demanding marketing that quite literally speaks to them and their needs. People want marketing that is honest, direct, and personal-thank goodness for that!

If you look at your marketing as a conversation and opportunity to build relationships then you are totally set for building a community around your business. I’m going to give you three cornerstones to help you lay a foundation for bringing people together to support your great work. Ready?

1. Use language that unites

In marketing semantics matter and the words you choose have power. I don’t use the word tribe in my work because I consider it a very male word that conjures images of loincloths and cavemen. I identify better with the word community because it welcomes you in and invites you to pull up a seat. Just like me in real life! You will find your own voice and words that feel right for the community you want to create but remember if you use language that is open and warm that is how your community will feel. If you have an edgier feel to your work then your words will connect with a much different group. If you are looking for a great resource on language and voice in marketing be sure to visit the amazing Abby Kerr.

2. Create opportunities to connect

If your marketing is focused on just selling directly to your consumer you are missing out on a world of opportunity, not just for more sales, but for having the business of your wildest dreams. Offering your supporters ways to engage with you and each other is key to any successful community building. There are a gazillion ways to do this! Some ideas are starting conversations by asking questions via Facebook, Twitter, and in the comments of a blog. By asking a question you are inviting people in to share their own perspective and make them a part of whatever story you are telling instead of being passive observers. Events either on or offline are another awesome way to bring people together-every week on Twitter I lead an #OMHG chat as a way of connecting my community. This one thing has been the root of almost every success I have had in my business so far and led to real life events and connections!

3. Matchmake, Caretake & Listen (Very) Carefully

So you set the tone and created places for connection but now comes the big work. You need to care for and nurture the relationships you have built and see the ways they connect and relate to each other. As a caretaker you listen to the stories and experiences of your community and then you play matchmaker by hooking them up with the resources they need. This can take all sorts of forms like seeing different people talking about the same topic and reaching out to them to write a series for your blog or noticing what your community needs and creating a product or service to fit. For example, after a year of hosting weekly #OMHG chats I saw a reoccurring need for a creative entrepreneur resource guide. I connected with tons of people in my community, built the Guide to Businessy Goodness, and sold 500 copies in two months. I would have never had the idea if I wasn’t listening.

I’ve just touched the surface of how to build your community and why. There are other important pieces to being a community leader like showing up consistently, being present/accessible, and genuinely caring about the stories of others. Plus growing your community will mean that your supporters are willing to help you when you need to launch a new product, hatch a new idea, or generally plan joyful world domination.

What does community building mean to you? How do you build community and market your business at the same time? Please be sure to share in the comments below, I can’t wait to hear your stories and ideas!