About a year and a half ago I was invited to a seminar in Fort Lauderdale, Florida by Bill Walsh about entrepreneurship and networking.
Bill got my attention.
What he said was critical and I already knew it before he had said it.
Everybody needs to think about their future.
Whether you are going to startup a new business, buy a franchise, change careers, step up a notch in your career by getting promoted, write a book, become a speaker, accomplish a goal or simply are going into a new project of any sort where you need to have an audience or customers, you need to start today to build out YOUR community.
We used to call it Your Network, but since the rise of social media and a ton of amazing resources like Linkedin, Facebook and whatever comes next, we can now call it “Community” because it can be, and is, so much more. It’s like the old business cards, but multiple that 100X, because of the ability to keep in touch and manage information instantly and exponentially. Just you reading this, means you have touched my community and you may be connected with me forever…
Year ago we collected business cards. We still do, but we might as well toss them after we connect electronically. I used to keep mine neatly stacked and wrapped with rubber bands.
So, What do we mean exactly by community?
Well, this can mean different things to different people based on differing goals.
Everybody needs to decide what they need in the future? It’s not about right now!
So, what do YOU need?
Where do YOU want to be a year from today, 5 years from today?
For instance, let’s say you are software developer and you want to build a mobile app or game system or new social network or whatever. The time you spend between now and the completed product is not only the time of software development, it is the time-frame in which you needed to have built a community. It can be a community of users. It can be a community of developers, testers and friends. It can be a community of venture capital and investors. It can be a community of co-founders, teachers, mentors, etc, etc.
When you start at the end of the project, you are basically starting from scratch in terms of community.
The word Marketing is really over!
Some tech startup companies build a tech and then come to me a year or 2 or 3 or 4 years later and say hey can you market my product now?
The answer is stop marketing your product and start building a community!
A community is not a one time bump into them and let them go kind of thing. Once someone is in my community I pretty much never let them go. I mean I had one or two who had to go, but that is rare. Most people I network with want to be connected with me indefinitely. And I don’t have to worry about that stack of business cards I used to keep in a rubber band for years.
So, where did I start on this odyssey of building my own community and what was my original goal?
Back around 2007, I had just moved from Sunny Isles Beach back up north to Boca Raton, Florida. I had recently finished my MBA at FAU. I had just had my first son and I was settling into a job at NTT Corp as a Web Manager. And though I had been through a startup, which was sold off a year or two earlier, I realized that if I wanted to ever raise capital, find co-founders and do the startup route again, I would need to have some connections and know people.
That’s why I looked around and in my town of Boca Raton was a group that met monthly called Gold Coast Venture Capital. I joined and met a ton of people there. And I learned a lot from watching pitches and listening to speakers and made a ton of connections. I had started the process of building my own community.
That was right at the start when tools like Linkedin, Twitter, Meetup, Medium, Facebook, Instagram and others came into the market and changed the game.
Maybe you don’t even know there is a game a foot.
I used to be naive myself. You think you go to work and do your job and keep to yourself and just keep plugging away will just make it all fine down the road. But the fact is, even in our work lives, working for large and small corporations, we still need to build community. And those who don’t, pay the price.
I’ve been out of work, and so have many of you. That day you need a job and you are looking around at who to contact is not the day to start building your community.
Like I said earlier, trying to build out a startup business and keeping your head in the sand until the day you need customers, is a long road to take. I have seen it done, but I have also seen people realize later on, how much more they should have been doing in advance of their venture going live.
And everybody needs something different. Some of us don’t need to build up a group of investors. Some of us don’t need a large community of followers. But we all need someone at some time to either provide assistance, a lead, a connection, legal, accounting, insurance and help.
And those who can provide the connections are extremely well positioned. Has everybody reading this heard of OnTheBall Marketing. Steve, the founder has taken his original web marketing firm into a new direction of making great connections for people all around the US in many industries. It is one of the ultimate business communities ever built. It’s like the top of Linkedin but all in person connected and delivered. I am talking the best of the best connections at the highest level. Trust me, if you need to talk to a C-level executive for your tech startup, that can be a tall order.
But, like I said if you had been building your community long ago and now need to harvest that community today, you are in good shape.
Who is going to open that door for you?
Who is going to get back to you and let you know they can make that introduction.
A few years ago I also joined a group that meets in Orlando every quarter called CEO Space. CEO Space has been one of the best things I ever joined. They have education seminars on business and entrepreneurship issues like legal, marketing, tech and other subjects. Just my community alone within CEO Space is tremendous. I just called out to a bunch of those connections this week to get a contact. And it worked!
So where do you start this process?
YOU already have. You have read this article. You have to give to get in life. One thing I would do is follow me and connect with me. Build your Linkedin contacts.
Another thing to remember is within every industry and project you do there is a different set of places to build your community. There are different ways to do this stuff.
For instance, I think most tech startup related and venture capital related projects should stick to Linkedin and Twitter and maybe a few other places. If you are into fashion then Instagram and Pinterest are the place to build. If you are into family, health and lifestyle issues, Facebook makes sense. For music, I believe Youtube is the place to build. You need to figure out what is best for you personally. And don’t make a mistake of focusing on areas that don’t make sense.
Putting your personal life on Twitter is not good in my opinion. I look at Twitter as business and political.
I personally have not focused on Facebook and I don’t think it’s where tech startup people hang out and chat. The reason is, I use Facebook to communicate with friends and family not business connections. Honestly they don’t particularly care about my business or my tech startup world. Know when you are jumping into the wrong space with the wrong community as well!
I have this person who is constantly sending me invitations to social events via Linkedin. Not the place to do it. I see people on Facebook building tech communities, I think it is a big mistake. But we all do what we feel is best.
Here is my meetup if you are not already a member. Please join my community if you are in Boca Raton, FL area:
If you are in Aventura, Sunny Isle Beach or North Miami, please consider this StartupPOP Pitch Event:
This is Bill’s Website: http://billwalsh360.com/
This is CEO Space: http://ceospaceinternational.com/
This is On The Ball Marketing: http://ontheballmarketing.com/ (Steve is in a video on the front cover).
Have a great day and great weekend.
If you liked this article, I wrote a similar article back in October 2016 here on Linkedin: