Advice on Building a Thriving Community
Scott D. Clary | Mental Models, Performance, Business & Entrepreneurship
Here is my weekly email with some insights and ideas pulled from conversations I had on my podcast as well as some other tools and resources you may find useful.
🤝 Advice on Building a Thriving Community
No person is an island, just as no business thrives without its community. Communities are what bring people together under a common banner; they provide the social and emotional connection that is essential for humans, and as such, they are the perfect vessel for furthering your mission or business goals.
Today's newsletter is an exciting one, because we're going to be dissecting the best steps toward growing and nurturing a community. And what better way to do this than to learn from someone who's already succeeded in this area?
In a recent Success Story podcast, I was fortunate enough to speak with Liz Faircloth – founder of the DeRosa Group and co-founder of InvestHER. As the coordinator of an enormous network of women investors, Liz knows a thing or two about building a community from the ground up.
What should your first move be? Should you start with a Facebook page? How do you know if your community is a success? Liz addressed all of these questions and more, so I’m thrilled to be delving into her top-tier advice. Let’s get right into it.
InvestHER: the epitome of a thriving community
After reading a self-help book on personal finance, Liz Faircloth started her investment career from the ground up. She didn’t study economics, she didn’t train in finance, and until 2005, her real estate experience was nil.
In 2022, Liz now coordinates a truly thriving all-female investment support group with thousands of members across 56 meetup locations. To give you an idea of Liz’s incredible successes in the real estate industry, here’s a brief overview of her achievements so far:
- Liz co-founded the DeRosa Group in 2005 alongside her husband, with a mission to “transform lives through real estate.” DeRosa now controls $60 million of residential and commercial assets up and down the East Coast.
- She is the co-founder and CEO of The Real Estate InvestHER community® and recently published InvestHER’s first book, Only Woman in the Room – Knowledge and Inspiration from 20 Successful Real Estate Women Investors.
- Liz is co-host of The Real Estate InvestHER Show, which can be found in the Top 25 of Investing podcasts and Top 50 in Business podcasts.
Needless to say, Liz was the perfect guest to invite onto the Success Story podcast – and if you want to listen to her full interview, you can find it here.
The InvestHER community
Alongside her business partner Andresa, Liz launched the InvestHER community in 2014 as a way to empower women in building their investment portfolios and gaining financial stability. She had seen firsthand the power of making smart real estate investments, and wanted to provide a source of community and advice for like-minded women.
“We wanted to create something where we could bounce things off of each other and bring other women together, especially women that are new or experienced. Everyone can give something, everyone can get something – that's my philosophy.”
From the InvestHER website and Facebook pages, it’s clear that the community Liz and Andresa built is a thriving and mutually beneficial network for women in investment. Coordinating meetups in over 50 different locations, as well as a podcast, website, and social platforms, is no small feat – so how did she do it?
Clarify your mission
Liz's first tip for building a community – and certainly one of her most valuable insights – was to get clear on your mission.
"I think there are people who jump into things, and then there are people who are really intentional," she said. "I think you can be successful either way. But for Andresa and I, we talked about things and brainstormed. We were really mindful."
For many entrepreneurs, the allure of jumping straight into the community-building process is strong – especially when the excitement and adrenaline are at their peak. Without a clear vision for why you're building a community in the first place, however, you'll likely find yourself spinning your wheels.
In creating InvestHER, Liz and Andresa didn’t start planning their meetups or social media launches until they had a clear and passion-driven starting point.
"When we came together, we both were very passionate about empowering women in serving women in this niche. We then got more refined: who are these women? What are their challenges? What keeps them up at night? You can’t serve everyone, so getting really clear on whom you want to serve is the most important thing."
Take the time to define your mission, and then make sure all of your messaging – from social media posts to the language on your website – reflects that mission. When people can easily see what it is that you're all about and why they should care, they're much more likely to want to get involved.
You can start gaining clarity around your community's purpose by answering the following questions:
- What need or problem are you solving for your members?
- What do you want your community to achieve?
- How will your community make people's lives better?
- What unique value can your community offer that others can't?
Only once you have a clear answer to all of these questions can you start crafting an effective community-building strategy.
Analyzing your top moments
To build on this idea of clarifying your mission and purpose, Liz shared a simple yet incredibly effective trick for getting down to your true goals and values. She calls it ‘analyzing your top moments in life’ – and as you may have guessed, it’s an exercise in reflection.
Step 1: Spend some time thinking back on some of your life’s most memorable highlights. Were you leading a team and achieving something great together? Was there a time when you or your business overcame a huge obstacle? Or maybe there was an experience where you really felt like you made a difference in someone else’s life, such as a struggling family member or friend.
Step 2: Once you’ve identified your top moments, it’s time to ask yourself why they were so memorable. What was the common thread that ran through them? Try not to focus on the common people (for example, all your best moments were experienced alongside family).
Instead, think about the feelings and values that you associate with those moments. Were your top moments generally instances where you made an impact on others? Where you created something new? Or were you simply challenged and pushed outside your comfort zone?
Step 3: Once you’ve identified the key values and themes associated with your top moments, it’s time to start thinking about how you can bring more of those into your life and business.
How can you create an environment where your team can achieve great things together? How can you encourage more risk-taking and innovation in your work? And how can you make an even bigger difference in the lives of others?
Building a thriving community around your business isn’t about creating some kind of utopia – it’s about identifying the things that are most important to you and bringing them to life.
By understanding your top moments, you can create a clear mission and purpose for your business; something that will inspire others and help attract the right people to your community.
Give it your all (for a little while)
Your mission is clear, you've got a solid purpose and plan for building your community – but where to next?
According to Liz, a key contributor to her success was her focus on genuine engagement with her target audience from the get-go. She gave herself six months in which to embody an all-or-nothing attitude to really get to know her audience and craft the type of community she wanted.
"We started as a passion. We didn't even start a company – we didn't start an LLC, we didn't start anything. We just said "let's do this and see where six months goes. And if it's just not going anywhere, then we've given this our all."
Embodying the philosophy of ‘as-if’, they didn't think about stopping, and operated as though InvestHER had no chance of failing. The two even drafted show notes for 100 podcast episodes before getting the green light.
Building your online community is no different. You need to be all-in for a little while – engage with your audience, learn what they want and give it to them. Be genuine in your interactions and let the community grow organically.
To do this sustainably – in other words, in a way that you can confidently adhere to – write down a timeframe in which you will 'give it your all'. This might be six months, a year, or even two years. Make sure that it's long enough to allow for genuine engagement and connection with your audience, without feeling like you're forcing things.
The psychology behind this is simple: if you tell yourself that you might fail, you're going to resist giving 100% of your attention and effort to the task at hand. It's an act of self-preservation.
Conversely, if you tell yourself that you're going to give it your all for a little while, and then re-evaluate based on results, you'll be more likely to put in the hard work required. This is because there's an endpoint – a time at which you can reflect on what's been achieved and decide whether to keep going.
Listen, learn, and change
The beginning stages of community building are crucial. Not only are you setting the tone for how the community will interact with each other, but you're also defining what the community is and what it stands for. Listening to your members, learning their needs and wants, and then changing accordingly is key to developing a thriving community.
"Building the community is more than starting a Facebook group. It's about listening to people. It's about asking questions," Liz said – and she's spot-on. If you're not constantly gathering feedback and engaging with your members, how can you expect the community to stick around?
To think about this in a simpler way – and all the green-thumbs out there are going to love this analogy – think of it as tending to a garden. In order for your plants to grow and thrive, you need to water them and give them enough sunlight.
Sometimes, though, the plants won't respond well to the amount of water you're giving them, or they might not like the location you've placed them in. So you need to be observant and change your approach accordingly.
The same goes for your community – it won't always be a smooth ride, and you'll need to make changes based on feedback. If someone suggests an idea, don't just say "Thanks for your valued input!" and move on. Listen. Consider it. And then put it into action if it makes sense.
Here are a few positive signs that your community garden is thriving:
- Your members are engaged and constantly interacting with each other.
- They're providing feedback and offering suggestions to make the community better.
- People are joining your community for reasons beyond just wanting to sell their product or service.
- The community is evolving and growing organically.
If you aren't seeing the growth and interaction you'd ideally like to see, don't worry – it's not too late to turn things around. Start paying attention to your members, and see what you can do to make the community more engaging and beneficial for everyone involved.
It's an unfortunate reality that a lot of 'communities' we see in the online space today are run by self-proclaimed gurus or pyramid scheme masterminds. These gurus often place themselves at the center of their communities and use them as a tool to peddle their products or services.
Perhaps this is why so many multi-level marketing companies are compared to cults, because their leaders often exhibit many of the same traits: a sense of superiority, a need to control, and an unwillingness to share the spotlight.
If you want to build a thriving community around your business, it's important to avoid egocentricity at all costs. You aren't the mastermind or the guru that is going to save your community – you are a facilitator of constructive dialogue and collaboration, and while your name should be known for support and feedback reasons, it shouldn't be a name that people worship or idolize.
This is something that Liz made a priority when launching InvestHER.
"It's never been about me and Andresa; we're not the gurus. It's a community. I think there are certain frameworks out there that are very person-centric, but we always had a vision of a circle. If people don't know me, but they know our community, that's more important."
Liz also mentioned that there are instances which call for egocentricity, but that building a community is not one of them.
"If you're building a community, you cannot be egocentric. It's really hard to have both. So if you want to build a coaching model module, then go build that – but don't build a community too, because people aren't going to know you.
I have a podcast, and being known is not as important to me. Women get what they need at a meetup. Whether they know I'm one of the founders or not, I want her to become financially free. That's the more important part."
Closing notes on building a community
Building a community from the ground-up is a lengthy process, and like a garden, it needs consistent care and nurturing to grow and thrive. But with the right tools, advice, and support, your business can bloom into a space where customers not only want to visit, but also feel compelled to stay connected, participate and contribute.
While the tips we've dissected from Liz's interview aren't a practical step-by-step guide to getting your community up and running, they are invaluable pieces of advice to take with you, whether you're starting a community from scratch or looking to revitalize one that's struggling.
1. Define your community's purpose before you start building. This will help guide your decisions on who to invite and how to structure your community. If it helps, analyze your stand-out life memories and see what the common denominators were that made them so special to you.
2. Give it your all for at least six months. This may seem like a long time, but it's important to be consistent in your actions and offerings if you want your community to grow and thrive. Build your community as though there's no chance it won't be successful, and be prepared to put in the hard work.
3. Nurture your community by listening to their feedback and being responsive. This means being active on your community's channels, such as forums, social media and email, and engaging with them in a meaningful way. Let them know you're listening by sharing updates, addressing concerns and implementing their suggestions.
4. Avoid egocentricity. Community is about giving as much as you take, and it's important to remember that your members are not there to worship you. Be humble, be open and be generous with your time and resources.
That's all for now! I hope you've found this advice useful and that it will help you in building a thriving community around your business. And remember: if you're interested in hearing more from the incredible Liz Faircloth, you can head over to my YouTube channel for the full interview.
💻 Tool Of The Week: Undock
Sometimes it’s the simple things that make a difference. Undock syncs up with your calendar and your email and auto suggests times to meet based on your calendar availability so you don’t have to flip back to your calendar, from your email. You can also download it on your iPhone, and it will auto suggest meeting dates/times in iMessage conversations.
🎧 Things You Should Listen To: Liz Faircloth (@elizabethfaircloth), CEO Of The Real Estate InvestHER Community
Liz Faircloth co-founded the DeRosa Group in 2005 with her husband, Matt. The DeRosa Group, based in Trenton, NJ, is an owner of commercial and residential property with a mission to “transform lives through real estate.” DeRosa controls $60 million of residential and commercial assets up and down the East Coast.
Liz is the co-founder and CEO of The Real Estate InvestHER community®, co-host of The Real Estate InvestHER Show, and recently published InvestHER’s first book, Only Woman in the Room – Knowledge and Inspiration from 20 Successful Real Estate Women Investors. The Real Estate InvestHER Show is part of the BiggerPockets Podcast Network. BiggerPockets family of podcasts has generated more than 110 million collective downloads across multiple industries. The BiggerPockets Real Estate Podcast is the #1 Real Estate Investing Podcast and it offers a community of over 1.8 million members. The Real Estate InvestHER Show can be found in the Top 25 of Investing podcasts and Top 50 in Business podcasts.
Here’s what we spoke about on the last episode of the Success Story Podcast…
- Transforming Lives Through Real Estate.
- Building & Scaling A Team.
- Equity And Woman Investment.
- Advice For People Who Want To Build A Community.
- How To Have Mission-Driven Goals?
📚 Things You Should Read: The Only Woman in the Room
Liz built her community (as well as wrote this book) to help woman entrepreneurs and investors. In The Only Woman in the Room: Knowledge and Inspiration from 20 Women Real Estate Investors, you will hear from 20 incredible women who will share how they were able to achieve financial freedom in an industry historically dominated by men.
From residential to commercial, this book is packed full of knowledge and inspiration on all facets, regardless of where one is in their real estate investing journey.
In this book, you will discover how to:
- Creatively find and finance deals
- Overcome any obstacle you are facing and get started
- Transition from your nine-to-five and become an entrepreneur
- Scale a multifamily portfolio
- Raise private capital
- Manage contractors
There’s a ton of great business and real estate lessons in this book and it highlights insights from incredible women, so if you do want to have a thorough understanding of how to get started in real estate investing, or have advice on a variety of other entrepreneurship/business topics, I highly recommend audible-ing (or buying) it.
💡 Other Thoughts
1. On Dreams
· Lack of energy
· Lack of purpose
· Lack of integrity
· Lack of priorities
· Lack of exposure
· Lack of patience
· Lack of conviction
2. On Showing
Don't tell the world what you can do. Show the world what you can do.
3. On Mistakes
Don't think of it as a mistake. Just think of it as feedback.
4. On Work
Your capacity for work is a muscle that can be built like any other.
Success Story Podcast
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