There is power in a community. We are social animals. We organize ourselves. We build communities naturally. A community is not just a geographic area or a municipality. You see communities when people organize themselves around a common cause. It can be both positive or negative. A gang is still a form of a community that gives it’s members a social benefit and reason for belonging.
A business that is able to organize a successful community, that is embraced by its employees and customers, has amazing long term growth and staying potential. Think about the communities that have been organized around brands with highly loyal customer bases (Harley Davidson, Apple, the UFC). People will go to great lengths to associate themselves with companies that create a strong community message. When I recently attended a UFC Fan expo in Las Vegas, I met SEVERAL people who literally had the word “UFC” tattooed on their bodies (one guy even had it tattooed on his neck). When a person identifies with a community, even if that community is a business, they will even incur pain to feel inclusive in that community.
There have been many interesting studies on this phenomenon. One particular book that I would recommend on this subject is “Start With Why” by Simon Sinek. In this book Sinek discusses in detail the “decision-making” processes in our brain (the Limbic System) and how they are influenced by emotion, not by language. Therefore, when a company is able to effectively communicate “why” and “how” they exist, before they communicate “what” they do, they tap into the decision making mechanism of their potential customers. When people feel positive emotion associated with why a company does something, they are influenced. Think “cult” followers of certain brands (Apple, etc). They have identified something about the company that they want to be associated with. The emotional side of their brain influences their decision to purchase a product.
The power of community exists with respect to employees as well, and in our industry to a downline “team”. When the members of a team (be it employees or downline) feel that there is something “more” to their association with the organization than just a pay cheque, they are more resilient. They are willing to work harder, go the extra mile, deal with fear and resistance, and stick with an organization longer. The community becomes intrinsically valuable to them and they realize that if they left the organization they would miss out on the benefits of the community.
For many people (absolutely me included) there is far more to life than money. I want to associate with communities, organizations, and causes that I believe in, that make me feel good, and where I like the people. A slightly better pay cheque is not worth vacating a positive community that I am a part of.
Something that we have discovered in our business is that creating a community is critical to our success. As a result, it is the #7 most important thing that we have done in our business.
Here are some of the ways that we have created a community within our organization:
- Get to know people. Figure out a way to emotionally connect with them. Use a variety of communication methods. Make it about them. Get to know them personally. Know them and appreciate them as real people;
- Emotionally connect with our downline using videos. Videos allow us to connect emotionally with large numbers of people;
- Give public praise, liberally and often, for the little things, not just the big things. Give shout outs for special achievement: sales, recruiting, going out of one’s comfort zone, small victories. Recognize specific strengths and tell them what their strength is. Make a HABIT of recognition. Make it part of your daily work, not just once a month for top sales;
- Have special in-person events such as team meetings and retreats. The in-person experience is what is going to deepen their commitment to the business and make it harder to leave. It becomes about something greater than money. It becomes about relationships and community;
- Encourage participation and attendance at corporate events. This deepens their commitment, and builds relationships outside of your team. It creates another “emotional” experience;
- Encourage team members to participate in online communities (for us this includes Facebook, GotoMeeting and other online collaborations);
- Duplicate yourself. Teach your leaders and those who will one day be leaders to do the same. Teach them the importance of teams, why we build communities, and have them engage in similar strategies. Share your methods that work.
These are just a few of the many strategies that we use, on a daily basis, to build and strengthen the community that exists within our team. The better the community, the stronger the business. The better the community, the more resilient the individuals are, the more support there is, and the more collaboration there is.
If you are in direct sales, and you are working on building a team, it is ESSENTIAL that, in addition to recruiting, you also work on building and strengthening your community. Make it something that people don’t want to leave. Make it about more than just money. Make it about relationships, friendships, personal empowerment and mentoring. It will create a wonderful positive environment and will absolutely strengthen your business.