It’s a frosty, frosty morning here at God’s Whisper, and Meander and I are about to head out the door to vote. I count this my duty and my privilege – my chance to have a voice and be heard. I hope you’re all using your voices today, too.
One of the things I love most about writing is that it gives us that voice to speak our deepest passion. Bryan Allain has a passion for community, and he builds it well with Killer Tribes, an online community of bloggers. Now, he has a new book – Community Wins – to help all of us build our communities – I’m using his wisdom as I seek to build the God’s Whisper family of Whisperers, and I think you’ll find something you can use here, too . . . plus, oh yeah, he’s wicked funny.
Tell me about your new book.
Community Wins is my best attempt at collecting everything I’ve learned over the past ten years of building communities and putting it into a format that helps the reader learn AND apply the ideas. I’ve made so many mistakes and have uncovered so many truths about myself and the power of community over the last decade that it only made sense to share it in this format.
The book is broken down into 21 thoughts, and each one comes with action items that force the reader to apply the principles to their own community. My hope is that by the end of the book the process of building a community will be demystified in some small way so the reader sees that they are completely capable of building a tribe around the things that move them.
How did you get started in this line of work?
As it turns out, I’ve been building communities for a while. As I mention in the book, I started a community for a band in my free time back in late 2000 that grew fairly popular in some circles. That community still exists to this day. I’ve also been blogging at my personal blog since 2001, so I’ve slowly build up a readership community there as well.
A couple of years ago I started a business called Killer Tribes to help focus my efforts on helping others. Since then I’ve launched a community, written a couple of books, held a conference, and have done some personal coaching. The result of all of that was being able to leave my day job behind in August of this year to pursue Killer Tribes full time. I’m only two months in, but so far, so great.
What’s the biggest mistake you see people make when they try to build a tribe?
One of the biggest mistakes I see is people focusing on the wrong connections.
The best connections I’ve ever made in my endeavors have been with peers, not influencers. 95% of us are going to grow our tribes by connecting with others who resonate with the same things. If we can find a handful of people like that, and we are all doing the same things, we can link arms and all rise together.
Too often people ignore those types of connections in search of one big push from an influencer, which I think is a mistake. One tweet from Seth Godin will not make your tribe. One blurb from Michael Hyatt will not sustain your growth. If you want influencers to notice you, make better connections with your peers and figure out how you can all grow together. That’s how you get noticed.
What’s the best advice you can give someone who wants to get more readers and build a bigger community?
Well, my answer to the last question definitely applies here as well. Every connection you make opens you up to a whole new group of people. That’s why I’m such a big proponent of guest-posting and meeting people in real life. It build those connections.
The other thing I’d say is to make sure you are building a tribe around the things you are passionate about. I hate volleyball and love football, but I’d rather read a volleyball blog written by someone who is all-out passionate for it than a football blog written by someone who doesn’t really care. You can’t fake passion. Readers will sniff it out a mile away. People are drawn to passionate people, so figure out what you are passionate about and build a tribe around that.
Any lessons we can take from the Amish about tribe building?
I don’t know, Shawn Smucker is probably the person to ask about that. I mostly just get annoyed by the Amish because their buggies make the roads so dangerous around here where i live.
I guess the one thing that comes to mind is that the Amish are known for serving each other, and that’s really what leading a community is all about. When you build meaningful connections with people, you want to help them out. I’ve seen that in the communities I have been a part of, and you probably have too.
Now if only the Amish would learn a few lessons from us and trade in those buggies for combustion engines.
A blogger since 2001, Bryan is the author of 31 Days to Finding Your Blogging Mojo, Community Wins, and the forthcoming humor book Actually, Clams Are Miserable (November 2012).
Bryan’s writing has appeared in print in RELEVANT Magazine and COLLIDE Magazine and online at The Burnside Writers Collective and The Daily Beast. He writes occasional doses of nonsense & inspiration at BryanAllain.com and provides coaching and resources to bloggers at KillerTribes.com.