Last week I was at a Zoom event hosted by a popular coach for older professionals. There were over 700 people on the call and she was primarily focused on the benefits of LinkedIn. While LinkedIn is the default social media platform for career information, I had anticipated the topic of networking and developing deeper connections to be a bigger topic. I began looking up people on LinkedIn who were on the call and I connected with someone who was also from Portland. During the presentation, we wrote back and forth about the content we were listening to and I said, “I’m surprised the speaker hasn’t mentioned paid communities as a way to network and land a job.” She responded, “What’s a paid community?” If a person’s background is not in technology or the startup world (and if they are not following any of those people), I can understand how they might not know about some of the terminology used.
Although digital communities have been around for awhile, paid communities have been on the rise since the pandemic as a way for people to connect on a national and global level. If you’ve taken an in depth course that includes workshops, live events and an area where people can post articles and respond to one another, you’ve most likely participated in a paid community. In the last year, I’ve been able to network through paid communities with people who are interested in social impact initiatives and building tech for good. These communities provide an area to discuss ideas, share articles and connect when it’s clear we have similar interests and goals and can help one another.
5 Benefits of Being A Paid Community Member:
- Provides a private and safe community for members - without any trolls.
- Opportunities to expand your network whether it’s to find a job or business partner or someone to connect with about ideas.
- Learn about resources that you didn’t know existed through other people who have similar interests.
- An opportunity to showcase your talents and thought leadership - whether it’s posting a blog you’ve written or providing a short video course on something you’ve learned that could help others.
- If you want a career pivot or want to learn more about a certain topic, this is the perfect way to gain insights about what to read, courses to take and the paths people have taken in order to achieve their professional goals.
Building Your Own Community
Building your own community is another option. It’s a monthly financial investment and it will take time creating content to include on a community platform. If you know you can gain an audience large enough for the numbers to work, it’s worth your time and effort. Making sure there are consistent and interesting people who are contributing will be critical. It’s also important to have extra products available within the community such an eBook that’s just for members. Many businesses have found success by testing a community concept (for free) by using Slack. That way, the person who wants to build their own community can gauge whether or not there’s enough interest to move forward with a community platform and charge a fee for it. If you already have a significant following on Twitter or LinkedIn or even Facebook Groups, consider steering them over to your own community where you have more options to organize different topics and set up live events. As a community builder, paying for a community platform such as Circle or Mighty Networks or Kajabi might be worth it. There are also plenty of wordpress plugins that serve as an online community platform. Here are reviews of different platforms to check out. Building online communities saves time and resources—while being impactful when it’s filled with valuable information that people are unable to find elsewhere.
Direct to Community
The new “direct to consumer “(DTC) terminology in marketing circles is now emphasizing the importance of a “direct to community” strategy. It’s one way for brands to engage with their audience and provide valuable content while also getting paid by their audience through memberships. The communities I belong to have rules of engagement and explain who they are and why they exist. It’s also a way for people to opt out who may not be a fit for a certain kind of community.
3 Tips When Building Your Community (by media cause)
- Understand the purpose of your community.
- Understand the rules of engagement.
- As a Community Builder, it’s important to be empowered and excited to contribute to the group.
The Benefits of an Online Community for Your Business:
Having a community can elevate your brand and be an additional revenue stream.
According to Software Advice, these are the top reasons to build a community in order for businesses to achieve their goals:
- Provide a forum for discussion/feedback and better insights about your audience’s needs.
- It can foster a unique community culture and purpose.
- Most importantly, communities should provide value to the end user.
Whether you decide to join a community to expand your network and learn or build your own community focused on a particular niche, it’s another way to build amazing connections and help each other with career and life goals.
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Emily’s vision for illume hire developed as part of her journey from a startup-curious sales and media professional to co-founder and CEO. Her passion is to provide resources to support professionals with 20+ years experience. Emily was part of the founding leadership team of Age Equity Alliance, a non-profit focused on the benefits of an intergenerational team.