The question I get most often as a Community Strategist is:
How do I find my ideal members for my online community?
During a podcast interview this Signature Talk: Steps to Finding Your Ideal Member gives step-by-step instructions on exactly how to craft conversations with potential community members.
Step 1: Find Your Ideal Members in your existing network
Review your email and phone contacts, Facebook friends, LinkedIn connections, or Instagram followers and find 10-20 people who best fit your ideal member for your community concept. Find out where they hang out online and meet them where they are, learning more about them will be key to building a relationship and establishing that you are someone they can trust.
Step 2: Craft a conversation, ask questions through prompts
Many leaders make the mistake of assuming that they know the best way to solve a problem and therefore don’t conduct interviews because they seem too “formal” or are a “burden” but reframing the interview into a conversation allows you and the ideal member to enjoy the process.
Step 3: Make the conversation enjoyable, find a nice place to sit, if in person. If virtual, add a fun background, and ask questions about their interests.
Make sure to follow up with a thank-you note, and find ways to keep in touch for when you are ready to invite them inside your community!
Step 4: Review what you’ve learned to validate the community concept
Interviews and conversations can lead to. making a decision for the next step. Community Building does take work and time, for investing in the program, course, membership, or cohort – but it can be helpful to review your results to have a clear picture on what a community looks like and how it could benefit your organization.
Step 5: Build a Brand before you launch
Gather information from your interviews that provide context, problems, solutions, and the wording from the ideal member that can be used for refining sales and marketing efforts.
5 Steps to Find Your Ideal Member
Be a guest on the Community Strategy Podcast
The nexus where online community strategy meets intentionality
Cohosted by Deb Schell and Callisa Mickle, the CSP offers recordings of LIVE interviews held with a guest and the Find Calm Here Community.
We believe that Social Media needs a shift from the current technology designed to distract and disrupt us as humans, to deeper online social connections within purpose-driven, private online communities.
We offer lessons learned from challenges we’ve faced and tips on building an online community, having a successful launch, and growing memberships for additional revenue and passive income over time.
Community Platform Partners
Deb Schell, I am a community consultant strategist and entrepreneur. I’ve been helping leaders build online communities for two years and I’d like to share with you today a lot of tips, I’ve learned about building an island community, specifically focused on how to identify your ideal member. So we are going to get started with five steps on how to build your audience and your membership, So five steps to finding calm because my business is called fine calm here. And so I’m going to help you identify the best steps forward knowing where you find your community members and who you bring together in an online community is the single most important thing that you can do.
So today we’re gonna talk about had across conversations with your ideal members and spark some joy with them and as well as having fun in the process of building an online community. Before I move forward, I want to explain what I mean by an online community. So an online community is not a facebook group, it’s not um conversations on social media, we’re talking about an online platform off of social media, specifically on other platforms that are gonna allow you to build an audience, but not only an audience, craft conversations with people who really resonate with your message. Thinking about how you want to grow as a leader, how you want to um connect with your ideal members in the community. So um let me just tell you a little bit about me, my experience is that I am the founder of Fine calm here.
I started Coming here in 20 20 because I wanted to help people find common daily life and so I kicked off my online community with A 4-hour virtual summit with 15 speakers and then in 2020 I launched over 30 virtual workshops and found so many amazing resources to tap into that we shared through the fine calm here community. At the fall of 2020 I started getting requests for people to help them build their online communities. And so that’s when I started becoming a consultant in this space. I have a background In writing, I’ve been a writer for over 20 years. I actually quit my corporate Job in 2019, I was in the text sales industry for five years and I quit my corporate job because I wanted to have a life that I loved and enjoyed and I actually wanted to become a travel writer, which is Not a great idea in 2020. So thankfully I actually pivoted to doing community leadership, so that’s what I’m gonna talk to you about today.
I’m really passionate about mental health, really wanting to help people make it simple and easy to build a community instead of having a complex, a lot of people talk about the strategy or structure with email campaigns and sequences and sales funnels. I don’t want to talk about that, I really want to talk about, let’s just get to who we want to talk to, who you want to spend time with, who lights you up, who brings you joy and here’s what I’m gonna say. If you’re a coach, you’re probably overwhelmed with the clients that you already have and you want to scale, but you’re not quite sure what that looks like. That’s another thing that we could talk about as far as building an online community, because what it allows you to do is to scale your business from working with one on one clients to working in group group coaching sessions where you can charge more and build your community allowing your members to actually share their wisdom that they learn together inside an online community. So that’s what I wanna talk about.
David Spinks is a good friend of mine. He also wrote a book called The business of belonging and he says building a community is a, as a hobby is nice, but if you want to build a community sustainably at scale and expand the way beyond your own abilities and resources, you need to look at it like a business. And so that is the number one thing I think that is really important is let’s not work about worry about trying to get from one step to the next step to the next step. What do we really want to accomplish in 90 days? What’s the quickest way to get there and let’s focus on the business schools and align that with what your purpose and your mission is as a community leader as well as what the members want to experience. So step 1 to identifying your ideal member, it’s gonna be looking in your existing network. You probably have uh, followers on social media connections on linkedin, uh, and emails, email, either an email list or friends and colleagues with their email addresses.
And I’m sure you have an email account and those are resources you can tap into so that you can identify of those people Who are the top 10, 15, 20 people, like I want their names. I wanna have you thinking of writing down making a list, whether it’s in a google sheets or a word document or you’re writing it on a piece of paper or you’re recording an audio note for yourself. However you want to do that. What are the names of the people that most resonate with, what you’re trying to share into the world right now? And so that’s the first step is really identifying like who you have in your current network and then find out where they hang out online. Are they in linkedin a lot. Are they over on Tiktok, are they in instagram, where are they hanging out and meet them where they are kind of a situation? Step two is going to be craft a conversation, let’s talk about connecting with your ideal members, not through direct interviews as they are, but how can you gain information from them while making it fun enjoyable for you and for them.
So some people think when, when they hear the term ideal member interview, they think oh that’s a structure, I have to ask a series of, You know, 10 or 20 specific questions and well that could be the case. You can also just have conversations with people and make make it enjoyable. So thinking about asking the questions when you’re talking in conversation, whether it’s on a virtual call or maybe you’re in an email conversation with somebody identifying what their problems are specifically, uh the problems that you can help them solve and then how kind of reframing of well what does this mean for an online community? What would help you if you could pitch this to them? Something like what would help you if you were in an online community and you were struggling and stuck on this one aspect, but if you had, if you could get feedback from five people that would give you at least one step that you could take towards getting past that problem, would that be helpful to you?
Those are kinds of questions that you can ask. Open ended questions where you get some feedback back and it’s more like a conversation. Okay, so another leader in the community Industry, Richard Billington, who I also met at the Community Leaders uh Community Leaders Institute expo which was in Memphis Tennessee this year, He says today’s communities are less about super fan thumb creating warm fuzzy feelings and driving lots of engagement but are instead about showing a clear impact. That means not saying, well, we’re gonna make sure that we have people emailing or messaging each other, connecting or commenting or liking or cheering just for the engagement state to show that we’re busy in here. What we actually want to do is show how we’re making massive impact in the world, whether that’s your community members are gathering together to work on a large project, whether that means that each one of your members is transforming and that ripple effect, that the what they create then goes out to their networks and that creates a ripple across time and those could be the ways that you create more impact.
So not just working on, you know, what am I doing as far as community engagement, what does that look like? But let’s focus on, like what’s the impact, what’s the result that you want to have from this online space? Are you trying to get more clients? Are you wanting to create a coaching program? Are you just looking to inspire your members and you want them to take action? Where is that? Um for you? How does that resonate? So then uh step number three, make a conversation that’s enjoyable. Find a nice place, go to a coffee shop if you’re doing it in person or if you’re doing a virtual then maybe have a fun coffee shop background or creative space background that you have and open the conversation up with just, you know, some kind of opening Kickstarter, that’s that’s not like how are you today? Because that’s a literally question for a lot of people. So how can we expand beyond that? Thinking about like a lot of different ways that you can spark conversations there and then keeping it fun and engaging while it’s like short, it’s still a chance for you to build relationships with these people.
But this person Step four is going to be, let’s say You’ve done about 10 of these conversations, these community conversations and you now feel like, okay, I’ve got, I’ve got some results. So let’s put those together. Let’s put them in a way of organization that you can say. All right, here’s what I’ve learned from interviewing these 10 people. That’s like a key point. Here’s what I’ve learned. Okay, what do they really need? What did you learn about their problem? What did you learn about the community aspect? Like do they want to do this with other people or is this something that they want to work on by themselves? Um did they decide they want to work in a learning environment where it’s a course and there’s some structured content or are they more interested in just talking on a live virtual call. Uh those are different learning styles. So identifying those creating conversations and reviewing what has the key themes that your ideal members are telling you because that what you’ll do is you’ll put that together and that copy those words will be what you can use to promote your community when you’re ready to go to launch.
So that’s a really key point and then step five is build a brand and and you before you launch by gathering information. So just like what I talked about, um not just the copy, but also understanding your, what you want to experience in this space, what they want to experience in this space, what it looks like together to work for them and you and then again using that content for your sales pages and marketing because what’s going to happen is that message is going to resonate with with your ideal members because they’ve already said it. So other people that resonate with that same message are gonna be attracted to your offer because you’ve already validated it with other people. So Those are the steps five steps to find your ideal member, um find your ideal members in your existing network crafted conversation using pumps, make it fun and have them interact with you with a virtual background or go to an actual meeting place and have a cup of coffee or have a drink or whatever, enjoy a lunch review and validate your community concept before you launch and then build a brand with your content and the conversations that you’ve cultivated.
So if you need support, I’m able to help you build your strategy, create a survey, um, put together questions. Lead a focus group. These are things I’ve done with clients. I can also conduct the interviews on your behalf. If that’s something of interest that you want a 3rd party to get some uh, maybe unbiased feedback. That’s what I’ve heard before. Um, some of the past clients I’ve worked with Agora Post is a good example about ideal member interviews. We worked together to ask social media managers what they wanted when we were talking about products and services for them. So thank you so much. I will have my contact information shared with you. If you have any questions, please let me know. You can reach out to me a Deb at find calm here dot com and I will have that in the notes. Thank you. Have a great day. Have a great conversation with a community member today.