A lot of people build something, an app for instance, and then start marketing it to people to see if they are interested in buying it. This is the hard way to go about things. It’s like pushing a boulder uphill.
Instead, start creating a community in your industry before you launch your startup. In the words of Richard Branson, “From the very first moment you begin to realize that your idea is worth pursuing, the first step on the road to success is building a network.”
Communities tend to gather around common passions or ideas. So identify what ideas are important to your target market and start connecting with them today. Here are some reasons why:
- By creating a community first, you will get to know your customers and what they want. Then you can build a product or service that is tailored to customer demand making it easier to sell. Your community will also give you feedback and ideas that you can incorporate into your product or service design.
- When you start reaching out to people and sharing your ideas with them, you will make connections that can give you input, feedback and help you get to where you want to go faster. Your connections will open doors for you that you could never open by yourself. Opportunities will come your way. I know this may sound pie in the sky but I have experienced it. I have had many opportunities come my way that wouldn’t have if I hadn’t started intentionally connecting with and helping others.
- By contributing to the discussion in the industry or issues that concern your startup, you will be building a reputation for yourself. When you launch, you won’t be a totally unknown quantity, making it easier to create sales and even connect with investors.
- Best of all, by creating a community, you will have created a ground swell of support that you can leverage when you launch your startup or kickstarter campaign.
Think of your community wholistically: they are the people you know already and people you connect with on social media.
Above all, creating community is all relationships. If you think global village, where everyone depends on each other and helps each other out, you will have the right approach.
Have you started creating a community? Do you need to start? What topics, interests, ideas or passions are important to your target market? How will you start to reach them?
Seth Godin recently ran a campaign on Kickstarter.com where he raised the goal of $40,000 for his new book in under 3 hours. The campaign went on to raise over $287,000 in total, over 7 times the amount needed.
How did he do this? Seth has long invested in creating a support community. Not a bad payoff!!
Richard Branson on How to Network. Hint: Early and Often from Entrepreneur.com
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Image used courtesy of Thomas Hawk under Creative Commons license.