Growing a community is hard work, and it doesn’t happen overnight. So is it really worth it? And if so, what can you do to get started? I’m diving into these issues in today’s conversation.
Recently I spent time at the Clarity to Courage Conference. It was an incredible conference and I loved so much about it. One of the very special parts about the conference is that I was able to be there with 10 of the women in my upLIFT Mentormind. It was basically a ‘pinch me’ kind of moment when I got to sit at dinner with these women–many of whom I had only interacted with online–and share dreams, stories, laughter, and tears together.
As I reflected on how wonderful it was to get to be there with members of my community, it got me thinking about how it all started and the benefits and blessings of growing a community rather than just building an audience.
In January of 2018, God was starting to put the idea in my heart and head for a podcast. I knew I wanted to reach Christian women leaders in ministry and business. That’s who I am, and I knew I had things I wanted to share with women like me.
Part of my motivation for launching the podcast was to build up an audience of women who might want to read a book I might eventually write, and I knew that I needed a “platform”. (If you’ve listened to Christa Hutchins’ episode 34 of the Just One Simple Thing Podcast, you know that it’s better to think of this as a community rather than a platform!)
However, from the beginning, I went about it a little differently than what some of the gurus and experts might teach.
Today I want to share with you some of the blessings I’ve received as a result of building a strong community and 5 things I did to cultivate that community.
5 Benefits and Blessings That Have Come From My Community:
1. Real friendships and relationships.
You’ve heard me say it before, but the relationships I have built in my community have been transformational. I can’t be best friends with every woman in my circle, but some have become women I value greatly in my life.
“Start by being the person who reaches out, and who initiates those relationships.” -Esther Littlefield
2. Learning and growing in my own journey.
As I’ve cultivated my community, I have learned and grown so much myself. I have been able to gain insights from the women who generously share in my FB group, in response to emails, or on Instagram. I am often blessed by what they share.
3. Invitations to be on other people’s podcasts, summits, and events.
For example, getting to speak at the Clarity to Courage conference happened organically, after I interacted and built community with other women. Don’t expect this to happen without making the first move and reaching out to others as well, but building connections has made these sorts of invitations possible.
4. Revenue and sales.
If you are in business, you obviously need to earn an income. One of the very real benefits of building a community that trusts you and knows you is that they are often willing to buy from you! They will be excited when they see something you are offering that can help them. I’ve personally seen an increase in my sales and revenue as I have continued to cultivate my community.
5. A larger impact.
Finally, the more you are able to cultivate your community, the bigger impact you can make with the gifts and skills God has given you. One of the ways I have seen this happen for me is seeing women who have applied what they’ve learned from my podcast to help them lead more effectively in their church or workplace.
I’ve seen women launching podcasts as well as growing their businesses with the amazing things they have to offer the world. And this creates an impact that I could never make on my own. When you work together with your community, you can create change on a scale you couldn’t dream of creating alone.
“The more you build your community, the bigger impact you can make with the gifts and skills God has given you.” -Esther Littlefield
5 Things I Did to Build My Community:
So having a thriving community sounds great, but how do you get there? Here are 5 things I did early on to help in cultivating my community.
- I started a FB group before I even launched the podcast.
My FB group became a place where I could connect with the type of woman I wanted to reach, learn more about her and find out how I could help her. It also became one of my favorite places to hang out on the internet.
- I saw each podcast download as a person.
I didn’t go into it focused on reaching thousands of women. Instead, I focused on the one woman who needed what we were creating. As we recorded episodes, we thought about her and how this podcast could help her grow as she leads in all areas of her life.
- I spent time building relationships.
I took time with the members of my community, with podcast guests, and with women serving similar audiences. They don’t happen overnight, but these relationships have been instrumental in my growth.
“The relationships I have built with the women in my community… have been transformational for me.” -Esther Littlefield
- I didn’t focus on the money.
I focused on how I could help my person solve problems she was having in her leadership journey. This meant a lot of experimenting with freebies and offers I created. I ended up creating the Confident Leader Catalyst to help women get clarity, confidence, and courage to walk out their calling.
And I created the Confident Conversations mini-course to help women have hard conversations. Focusing on solving people’s problems and trying things out to see what gives the most value is a much better approach than just focusing on how to make the next $500.
- I decided to go deeper rather than wider.
I decided to go deeper in the areas where I provide the greatest value to my community rather than go wide and try to offer tons of different types of products and services. Eventually, God led me to a focus on serving Christian women leaders who want to grow a business without compromising their values, but it took some time to find that focus.
Support for cultivating your community:
If this all sounds great but still feels overwhelming, or you don’t know where to start, I want to help. My friend Christa Hutchins and I are collaborating on a resource to help you cultivate your own strong community. Because obviously there’s a lot more to it than what I’ve shared in today’s episode.
Head over to cultivatecourse.com to learn more and get on the waitlist for the course! As a thank you for joining the waitlist, we’re giving you a special bonus resource on asking good questions. We can’t wait to share this with you, so we hope you’ll join the waitlist today!
Philippians 1: 3-6
“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”
I love this passage, and thought it was a great one for this episode. Paul was their teacher and mentor, but he emphasizes their partnership in the gospel. It encapsulates the idea of partnering with a community as a leader.
Shine a Light Segment:
In this episode I’m shining a light on Charlotte Easley. Charlotte is a life coach, and one of the best people I’ve had the privilege of getting to know. She puts you at ease and makes you comfortable sharing your story with her.
As a life coach for Christian women, she knows setting boundaries and managing conflict can be confusing and hard! She offers 1:1 coaching, group options and workshops from time to time.
Check out her website or instagram to follow and connect with Charlotte!
Connect with Esther:
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