Our topic today is community – and as someone who has quite literally built, and is still building, a business through authentic relationships with other humans, I’ve experienced first hand how important community is from a branding perspective. And that’s why I want to introduce you to the amazing human who is my guest today.
Eli Trier lives in the wonderful city of Copenhagen, Denmark and is a community builder for Quiet Revolutionaries. She helps introverts with big dreams to get connected and build thriving, engaged communities around their businesses, so that they can make a massive impact, find their dream clients, and make their corner of the world a better place. A long-time business owner, Eli knows first-hand the power of human connection to build a business, and her unique approach got her featured in The Financial Times Guide to Business Networking. She specialises in creating powerful, strategic online community projects and loves every minute of her work (even the boring bits). When she’s not working you can find her curled up with a book, painting, or hanging out with her husband Lars.
I mean, strategy and community. Two of my faves! I have a feeling this will be good, so let’s go ahead and listen to what Eli has to share with us!
TL;DR – Here’s how to connect with Eli:
Also: You should totally sign up to her Sunday Letters, they are one of a select few newsletters I actually look forward to receiving. They are that good.
And here’s the link to the book Eli recommends towards the end of the episode: The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker.
Disclaimer: The following transcript has been auto-generated and then cleaned up by my wonderful VA – and while the general flow of the conversation is there, it’s probably not 100% accurate.
P: Eli, I am so happy to finally be able to welcome you as a guest on my podcast.
E: Thank you very much for having me.
P: It’s my pleasure. So we connected a while back, didn’t we? I think it was after you ran a community project. Yeah, for one of the people in my online business orbit. And I’ve wanted to have this conversation ever since because I believe that what you have to say about community is so impactful and not just from a branding perspective, but also from a human perspective.
And the human perspective is something I feel like we have to some degree lost in the era of fast paced business and especially online, but also also in the more traditional business I think. We need to find our way back to it. And that’s where I believe community is a crucial part. And, yeah, one of your recent emails, I think possibly the most recent one, had the subject line of “What is it about community projects? “ I loved that. And then inside you spoke of just that, you know, what is it that makes them so special?
So I would love to kick this episode off by inviting you to tell us a little bit about your approach and the community centred work that you do for your clients and also to give us a little pointer as to what you want our listeners to take away after listening to our conversation today.
E: Awesome. Okay,
P: Take it away…
E: Well, take away the community projects that you mentioned. I’ll start with kind of what that is to begin with, because it can take a little bit to sort of wrap your head around.
But they’re basically an extended conversation over the course of about a month, which, as we know in Internet land, is an absolute eternity, which is disruptive, sort of like right from the get go. The fact that they’re so long is a disruptive thing, but what they are. I don’t know if you’re familiar with this sort of the Tele- Summit model, the sort of online summit which all happens over the course of a weekend. And there’s lots and lots of experts all talking about various things, and it’s very intense and it’s completely overwhelming.
Then immediately afterwards, it’s like if you want to actually be able to digest this and watch them back, you have to give us money. It’s very in your face, grabby, you know, focused on getting what you can out of everybody involved.
P: I think we’ve all become, you know, acquainted with those over the past sort of year or so, with everyone stuck at home and everything happening over Zoom and everybody just scurrying to go digital with everything. So
E: Yeah, yeah, exactly! They quite often have these really arbitrary requests for the people who are involved as well. Like what you have to say is only worth saying if you have 5000 people on your email list, which is completely bonkers and wildly out of date in kind of this day and age as well, I think. so, yeah, they’re very unpleasant from every possible aspect. What I’ve done with the community project is, I’ve taken that idea of people coming together and having a conversation and talking about the same topic, but I’ve sort of turned it inside out and made it long, and slow, and processable. I’m an introvert, and I think you are as well.
P: I am a massive introvert.
E: And we need a little bit more time to kind of take on an idea and just kind of compost it a bit and have a bit of a think and kind of process what’s been said, and then we’re ready to come back and go, “Oh, this is what I think about that.” So there’s this kind of container, the structure of the community project gives you ample time to kind of do that and join the dots. What that means is that you can actually, if you’re running one of these projects, you can actually give people a transformational experience.
You can actually take people on a journey from where they are at the beginning of the project to where you want them to be at the end of the project. So they’re very much about conversation, about sharing ideas, about the wisdom of the collective being more valuable than the wisdom of someone who’s a guru or, you know, the one at the top of the mountain, which is the complete antithesis of the- you know, I hesitate to use traditional in terms of online marketing because we’ve only been doing this for like 10 years, max-
But that kind of top down guru, you have to have all the answers, you’re the one who knows best and everybody follows you. I hate that. My favourite leaders are the ones who are there going, ‘I don’t know, but this is what I think based on my experience and my wisdom and my training and everything. But that doesn’t mean that I’m right all the time. like, what do you think?’ Like let’s build that ..
P: Yeah, let’s figure it out together!
E: Exactly. That to me is true leadership.
P: I think you’re so right. You know, I think it’s just we’re ready for a change now. At least I’m ready for a change and then to meet up with like minded people on the Internet- What would we do without the Internet?- And like, almost discovering that there are people out there who are thinking in the same kind of lines as what I’m thinking. Everyone isn’t looking up to these big gurus anymore, that that in itself is liberating. Just like ‘Oh, there’s more of us.’
E: Yeah, and I think people are fed up of just consuming stuff. There’s so much content on the Internet now. We don’t want to consume things mindlessly anymore. We want to be a part of something. We want it to be smaller and more intimate and actually make a difference rather than just reading, like 100 blog post articles about the topic and getting nowhere with it.
P: Yeah, I think also, this is something that we can translate into building our brands, which is obviously my kind of jam and what I do for my clients. I find it so interesting, too, to almost explore how we can, I hate to say, take advantage of because that sounds like horrible. How can you make the most of is a better term. How can we make the most out of community and real connections in order to build our brands in a way that feel good to us and also to everyone who we are trying to reach and trying to impact. So I think that’s why the work you’re doing is just spot on.
E: Yeah, I think if you look at branding as sort of people are going to talk about your business regardless, and the process of branding is like basically trying to make them talk about the things that you want them to talk about, and giving your business meaning. So making it means something. When people see your name, when people hear about your work or see your website, your colours, your logo, like all of it, the visual stuff and the communication stuff as well.
It’s all about people looking at and understanding what it means, what it stands for. So with branding, when you’re designing a website or when you’re coming up with, like, brand voice guidelines and all of that kind of stuff, that’s one way of doing it. Having conversations with people is another way of doing that. You are crafting that message over and over again. And the wonderful thing about doing that in conversation with people is that you get feedback from them that makes your branding better. You can say you have conversations with 5, 10, 15 different people and you realise they’re all saying something about you that you have no idea was coming across and it might be a great thing. It might be a not so great thing, but it then informs the way that you’re presenting your business to the world. It has an impact, you know. I think that’s sort of overlooked is that you don’t necessarily have to do a formal research piece in order to get the information you need from your branding. It can happen organically all the time whenever you’re in conversation with people.
P: I think that by doing it that way, doing it the slower way and with more sort of intention and breathing space. Often I think the data that you’re getting from that, the information you’re getting from that, is much, much more valuable and powerful than if you’d sent out a survey like a brand perception survey to two hundred people who you think are in your target audience. You kind of put your finger in the air and thought, ‘Oh, yeah, that person is within my target audience, that’s someone I think would enjoy working with me, and then let me send them this survey.’ Like there is something to be said for quantitative data as well but the quality I find is much more powerful, especially when you’re trying to build a more purpose driven brand. You want to make sure you connect with people on that human level rather than just as numbers on a spreadsheet, because we are not numbers.
E: No, we are not, and I think it also allows you to evolve. I think there’s a tendency to think of, particularly with people who are newer in business, that they get their branding, they get their target market, they get their audience, they get everything sort of nailed down at the beginning, and then that’s it.That’s done. They don’t have to worry about that. Close the box and that’s what my brand is. Actually, in reality, it’s a constantly shifting, evolving thing. I mean, I’ve been running this business for three and a half years now, and every single conversation I have I’m like, ‘Oh, that’s a brilliant bit of language!’ or ;oh, that’s an interesting like, shifting perspective’ and things change and evolve kind of over time. It makes the brand as a whole, the message as a whole, deeper and richer, and far more nuanced than if I had tried to just self-generate all of that because it’s very different. You can’t be the label when you’re in the bottle, basically.
E: No, you can’t. And I think that’s so important, what you just pulled out. You know that the community aspect of that and allowing your brand to evolve over time with getting feedback from your community, a community that feels like a safe space for you to expand and to grow and to test things, to iterate things. I mean, that holds so much value and you’re absolutely right. A brand, it shouldn’t be a static thing. If you try and make it a static thing, because that’s the easy, way out, you know ‘Oh, it’s done and dusted. Let me put this brand strategy document aside and that’s it. I’ve done it now.’ If you take that approach, you’re gonna grow out of alignment with your brand fairly quickly.
E: Yeah, remarkably quickly. It’s shocking how fast things evolve. Especially like that first five years of business is anything can happen. You know, you might start off thinking you’re going to be doing one thing, and three years down the line, it’s completely different. If you’ve just got this one single brand identity, which you’re rigidly adhering to, it’s going to be wildly outdated and wrong.
P: Well, if you think of your brand as a person, you know you as a person, you are not static. You change. You learn new things. You grow, you develop. Sometimes your opinions change because you find new information, and that’s what it should be like for your brand as well. It’s kind of interesting. I actually spoke with another podcast guest, previously about the relationship between you and your business, because there’s a relationship there as well. That is really interesting when you connected with the topic that we’re talking about here.
So when you’re forming your brand, it’s when you’re new to it. It’s almost as if you’re entering a new relationship with someone, and you have to get to know that other person. But by doing so, you’re also learning new things about yourself. Then you carry on forward together. You know, just adapting, fitting in with that other person, sometimes disagreeing with the other person at other times. Then there’s the other person’s family and friends, and you have to find your space within all this whole setting, and that is so transferrable, I think, to branding, and to business, and certainly to the way I want to do business.
E: Yeah, I love that analogy. It’s so true, like you’re in a relationship with everything that you’re doing. As with any relationship with another human being, what you’re bringing to the table reflects back onto that as well. So you know the way that you behave, what your habits are, what your patterns are, what your triggers are. It’s all going to have an impact on that relationship. You know, there’s a reason being in business is- you don’t really need therapy if you’re in business, because there’s nothing like it to bring up all of your issues and force you to deal with them.
P: Really a true story. True story.
E: Yeah, all this stuff you think you can kind of safely put in a box and hide away in the back of your mind. No, it’s coming out, and it directly impacts your livelihood unless you get into things. But it’s perfectly possible to have a really abusive relationship with your business. You know, when it’s going badly.
P: I think a lot of people are in abusive relationships with their businesses, especially if they maybe came straight from the corporate world and then they haven’t yet unlearned all of the corporate stuff. I know for myself that took a few years. I was feeling massive guilt around not being at my desk within the usual office hours. What’s that all about? I would go for lunch with my friend in the middle of the day and it would be like a two or even a three hour- gasp- lunch. I would be like ‘I should be at my desk. What are people going to say? What are people gonna think?’
E: Yeah, I went through that as well. I used to look at Facebook, before we used Facebook for business. I used to look at Facebook. I feel really guilty for, like, skiving off. And I have my hand over the old tab button, you know, like you used to do in an office just in case anybody walked past like it’s like ‘I’m here on my own in my house. Who’s watching!’ Who cares!
P: That’s another reason why I think being in a community when you are running a business, building a brand, is so important and for that community to be a community of the right kind of people. So you feel like you’re among friends and you feel like no one’s going to judge you for the choices you make for your business. You’re going to get that support and the kind of community that will normalise not being at your desk between nine and five every day.
E: I think that’s a really important distinction. Actually, I think a lot of people get confused with the words community and audience. Because there’s overlap, but really they are two different things, and I believe in building a community far more than I believe in building an audience. I mean, people do build an audience. It’s great if you have that particular business model that needs you to be in front of lots and lots of different people. For the people that I tend to work with, which is more service based businesses, you don’t need an audience, you need a community. In that community are your clients and customers, obviously, but also your peers, your colleagues, your collaborators, your business besties. Your mentors, the people that you look up to, they’re all in together. If you run a service based business, which is based on this idea of love is greater than numbers, and having really kind of genuine, mutually beneficial relationships with people. There’s so much kind of crossover between your clients, and customers, and your colleagues, and your peers. You might be collaborators with somebody. You might do a joint venture project, or you might do a podcast episode with somebody, and then you end up hiring them or they end up hiring you. You can’t go into any one relationship within a community thinking, ‘Oh, this person is a client, or this person is this or this person is the other.’ It’s more about being completely open and looking for people who you just click with.
I like to call them your sort of kindred spirits. You know, the people that you’re just like ‘Oh, yeah, there’s a whole load of stuff we’re not going to have to explain to each other, we’re just going to click.’ That way that those relationships become non-transactional and you end up with this lovely, organic sort of ecosystem around your business, which is far more conducive to the sort of leadership that we were talking about at the beginning. When you’re building an audience again, you’re looking at this very linear model with you at the top, knowing everything and then a whole bunch of just like.. I don’t know..there’s something cultish about it, which really turns me off.
P: I’m glad I’m not the only one.
E: Yeah, it’s creepy. I don’t want followers. I want relationships. I love the fact that I have an email list. We have an email list. Ninety nine percent of those people- actually it’s probably a bit less than 80% of those people – I actually have a relationship with. We’ve exchanged emails. We’ve had a conversation, we talk to each other. It’s not just me going. ‘Here’s another email for you. Aren’t I clever?’
P: And the lovely thing about having email lists like that that are more centred around who you actually have a real connection with, is that they will sometimes respond to your emails. They would hit the reply button and they will say, ‘Oh, I love this or oh, that was really interesting’. I love that, you know. So I guess you can say that within your community there are people who will become part of your audience but that’s not the main thing. That’s not the main reason why they’re in your community.
Having those people in your community, in your audience, is in turn making your audience just more closer knit and more in tune with you.
E: Yeah, yeah. I think if you focus on community, building a community rather than building an audience, when the numbers you know when you hit a certain point you generate a lot of momentum, you end up with a much stronger audience, and actually, it’s much easier to build an audience if you’re focusing on building a community if that makes sense. It’s sort of counterintuitive, but it feeds into this. This is the same ecosystem. It’s the same principles behind it. You just might not be in one to one relationship with everybody in there.
P: Yeah, but you have different levels of, like closeness within your real kind of in real life community as well, of your friends outside of the business sphere. It’s like I don’t go hugging all of my friends, for instance. I know people who are huggers and who hug everyone. I am not one of them. So I have people. I will hug and I have people I will not hug and that’s okay.
E: Yeah. You don’t have to have the same relationship with everybody. you can have. Yeah, there are. There are tears. There are tears. That’s what makes it so fun and interesting and, you know, worth doing.
P: I have to admit, I’m feeling a bit selfish as well talking to you about this, because community aspect of putting something like a group programme out there is very in tune with what I’m doing at the minute, because I’m trying to get this group programme off the ground and I don’t want it to just be another group. I want the community aspect of it to be almost as important as my expertise. Does that make sense?
E: Yeah, absolutely.
P: So that’s taking me a little bit of time now to figure out how I want it to be. Having this conversation with you is certainly sparking a lot of ideas and thoughts in my head.
E: Yeah, I think that peer to peer support thing is really important and having a group of people who are all going on the same journey at the same time, like there’s something so inherently valuable in that, in being shoulder to shoulder, with people having the same experience as you.
I actually think that’s one of the positives that has come out of this global pandemic because for the first time in most of our lifetimes, we’re all going through the same thing together. We all have a point of connection with every single other human being on the planet, and that just kind of blows my mind
P: It does.
E: A macrocosm of this sort of…
P: It gave me goosebumps.
E: It is wonderful. I remember saying to my students, because I teach as well as teaching people how to do community projects, I teach people how to kind of build one on one relationships in a way that doesn’t feel gross and weird and just like throwing your business cards at people. I remember saying to them at the beginning, of this like, ‘Look, you have a point of connection with every single person you meet right now, there is no excuse for not knowing what to say, because you can just go into a conversation and say ‘You know, this is a bit much, isn’t it?’ and they’ll know exactly what you’re talking about.
You’ve got an instant in with everyone! Take advantage right now! So yeah, but like I said, it’s a macrocosm of relationships that are built when you’re having a shared experience with people. There’s something deeply bonding about that, particularly if there is some element of vulnerability inherent in the process, which I think if you’re learning anything new, that vulnerability kind of happens automatically because everyone’s like, ‘Oh, I’m not sure this am I supposed to be doing it like this is it? Am I wrong?’
P: Is this a stupid question?
P: Yeah. I recognise a lot of that from my school days actually, I was good at school, you know, I was one of the lucky ones. I kind of sailed through school like the academic part of school, not the social part as much, but the academic part of school was kind of a breeze, but I was petrified every time the teacher wanted us to read out aloud in class. You know, that sort of ‘oh, I don’t feel safe, being vulnerable here.’ That that is something I want to bring into the communities I want to build because I want them to feel safe so that there are no stupid questions and, your point of view is welcome whatever it is, almost.
E: I think creating that kind of space needs structure around it. You need to have so many different bits and pieces sort of in place before you even kind of get to bringing other people into that container. I recommend a book called “The Art of Gathering” by Pria Parker. I sent you a link to that
P: It’s brilliant, I’ll pop it in the show notes.
E: Yeah, it’s designed for kind of in real life events, but I found it so valuable in looking at this kind of structural design of getting clear on kind of who this community event, this container is for. What do they need from this situation? How can I bring that to this situation? How am I going to prevent XYZ from happening and just having that structure really clearly defined before you even begin. It makes all the difference and it means that you have boundaries, you have rules, you have guidelines that people have to adhere to if they want to be a part of that community or that event.
P: Just like we do in the bigger community in the world. We have laws, we have unspoken laws. I was just talking to my partner yesterday about these kind of unspoken norms of society. How we don’t really notice that they are there until somebody breaks them. So, like, for instance, he was like saying, ‘What would people say if I just, like, took my shirt off right now?’ We were in a sushi restaurant. It’s like you don’t necessarily walk around every day thinking about that as being a rule. But you kind of know when someone does it. You kind of know.
E: There’s a social contract that’s been violated.
E: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. So thinking about that kind of stuff in relation to the container that you’re trying to create. If you want it to be a safe space, what do you need to do to make it into a safe space? So one of the things that I generally tell people with with community projects, because there is a kind of a discussion group element of a community project, is that whatever you want people to do, however, you want people to behave, you need to be modelling that with the dial turned up to eleven.
So if you want people to be vulnerable in your group and to feel safe in your group, you have to go first. You go first, you be vulnerable. If you have what sometimes called like a street squad, which is a group of people who are basically like coming to the group and talk and comment and stuff and kind of get the ball rolling for you. One of their tasks is show up, be vulnerable. We want this to be a safe space for people. So you’re modelling that, and you’re really kind of all the dials are turned out, all the taps are fully on. You know, if you want people to to be open and honest, if you want them to ask stupid questions you need to be modelling that. You need to be like making it explicitly clear so nobody can miss it, that this is a space where that’s allowed, that that’s welcomed. That’s a thing that we do here. So if you’re willing to sort of have to extrapolate a little bit from what she says in terms of real life events and turning that into virtual, then it’s a brilliant book to kind of help guide you through that kind of structural engineering that needs to happen.
P: I love that. It’s a really nice segue into a question I wanted to ask you, actually, because I am a very pragmatic person, so I’m always thinking about how a concept or an approach or a philosophy can be put into action. So what are some practical ways for people to start tapping into the power of community as a key part of building their brand? I mean, obviously, they can hire you to help them create a community project. But maybe if the idea of a full scale all bells and whistles community project seems a little bit daunting, because I’m guessing that there are a lot of moving parts in a project like that, it’s not like your typical five day challenge that you see around every corner these days.
So are there any smaller actions that people can start with?
E: Yes, I think being open to the idea of having non- transaction is the word that keeps coming to me. Non-transactional conversations with people. So reaching out to as many people as you feel like and starting conversations with them, asking them questions, not kind of scouting for clients or sending cold emails or anything like that. This is not about client generation or anything like that. It’s just about getting comfortable with talking to people, bringing them into your world in a way which is actually all about them rather than you.
That’s a real skill that people can learn that will help them to bring their communities together, practising creating experiences for people, just having the mindset of what is this going to be like for the person that comes to my Facebook page, my instagram feed, my website. What is it going to be like for them to sign up for my email list? What little steps along the way can I modify to make it feel more like the way that I wanted to feel to make it feel more like a community.
P: So that’s probably something that you could use in your free community as well as in any paid communities that you create.
E: Absolutely, practising building these containers for people and actually asking yourself those questions like, ‘How do I want people to behave here? What do I want people to get out of this? What do I want out of this?’ Because, you know, if you’re in business tasks and things like free communities and they have to earn their keep in one way or another, it might be through client generation. It might be through research and testing ideas and just general connecting with other humans who are on the same page as you. But they have to be worthwhile.
P: Yeah, and the reason I brought up specifically like free communities is because I used to have a free Facebook group, and I hadn’t thought through all of these things that we have just spoken about today. That Facebook group is now archived because what happened was I wasn’t getting the right kind of people in there, so they weren’t in the same mental space, all of them. Also that led to obviously problems keeping engagement up and people didn’t really quite know how to behave within the group. It didn’t become the valuable space that I wanted it to become. So I thought, ‘Well, this is no good. Let me start a podcast instead.’
E: I think so many people start these free groups or even just having an instagram feed. Like the people who follow you on Instagram -you can create a community out of that space. It is not inherently a community, it’s a bunch of followers following you and you have to be interesting. You can create community around that If you go in with some intention and think about how you’re actually going to do that and then make sure that every single thing you post every story you do every whatever brings those people together. It’s the intention behind it is thinking these things out before you just jump in then go ‘why haven’t I got community?
P: The silver lining in this for me and kind of learning by doing it wrong, which I guess we all do at some point is that I can take that with me on my business journey. So I know now what not to do for the community I want to create around my group programme and around my strategy framework. So you know, it wasn’t all bad. It wasn’t like I wasted a tonne of time because I took something from it that I can use in my business. So I think that for people who are listening, if they want to create a community, like a paid community, I don’t think it’s a bad idea to test the waters in a free one, just to see what works and what doesn’t and what resonates with people.
E: You have to get good at creating a community, managing a community, leading a community. That’s a skill set in and of itself that is separate from the skill set of branding or copywriting, and whatever else it is that you’re doing. You need to learn how to bring people together and how to create experiences for people because that’s really what keeps people coming back.
P: I also wanted to, this is going to be a bit of a side note, but you mentioned earlier, non-transactional, like how creating non non-transactional connections.And I can imagine people who are listening but thinking, ‘Oh, but what about paid communities, paid groups? How does this all fit together? Didn’t she just say that it’s important that it’s non- transactional?’ I’m just trying to play Devil’s Advocate here? because I think that a paid group can sometimes be more valuable than a free one, at least for me, because I know if I paid for something, I will show up.
E: Yeah, I believe that as well.
P: What’s your take?
E: I think when you’re looking at non-transactional relationships, that’s much more in line with your kind of one to one relationships, which are crucial because if you have a business, you need people around you to support you, to buy stuff, to…whatever it is you need people.
Business doesn’t exist in a vacuum. If you want opportunities. If you want all sorts of stuff. It all comes via people. The way in which you get those opportunities, and you get those clients, and you get the seeds of information that will lead to a community, is by having non- transactional relationships. Which is by having a little bit of strategy, thinking about who the sorts of people are that you want to be connected with, the sorts of people that you want in your world, who your kindred spirits are. Then being able to go out and find those people and have conversations with them, build relationships with them that are not going anywhere specific. It’s just ‘I want you in my world. Let’s talk, let’s have a conversation.’ You have direct experience of the way I do this because that’s how you and I started talking. It’s just true we just started talking, and now I’m on your podcast and I’m going to get exposed to your audience. But that wasn’t a thing that was in my mind when we first started talking, I just saw you and I thought, ‘Ah, she looks like one of mine!’
P: Yeah, and I love how the world just has a way of kind of pulling like-minded people together when you open your eyes to it, because I’m not a very woo person at all, so I don’t think that there’s like, a higher power pulling people together. I just think that when we start opening our eyes and putting out the little feelers, and when we are more in touch with who we are, it’s easier to spot the people who are in that same mindset. Then you can connect.
E: Absolutely. I could’ve said that better myself, but yeah,
P: No, I was just going to say that when I work with clients on their brand. That’s also the reason why I, first of all, tell them that they need to work on the inner core of their brand.
They need to find out who they want to be as a brand, what they are, what they stand for, what their values are, what their vision is, and what they want to achieve in this world and what their personality is going to be as a brand. Because unless you know that, you’re not going to be able to go out and recognise the people who fit into that orbit.
E: Yes, exactly, exactly. That’s so clever. It’s having the right people when you’re not looking to build a massive audience. If you’re working one to one with people and you just need this lovely community, I don’t know. The older I get, the less time I have for people who I don’t get on with, like I want the people that I’m spending a lot of time with. When I do community projects with people we worked together for three months- that’s a lot of time to be in somebody’s orbit if you can’t enjoy it. So I don’t have time for for the people who aren’t my kindred spirits and so those are the people that that I go after, and I’ve lost my train of thought right in the middle of a sentence, which is annoying. I did have a point
P: Yeah, I can resonate with what you’re saying, and I think we have all had an experience of working with a client who wasn’t a right fit and there was maybe something just undefinable there. We couldn’t quite put our finger on it, but something was off. It wasn’t as enjoyable as it should have been, because maybe on paper, this was the ideal client, you know, looked like an amazing project. Clients are lovely human beings, and still something is off. It’s probably because you haven’t clicked in that more intangible way.
E: I remember what it was I was trying to say. When you have these kindred spirit relationships with people, it makes client generation and sales so much more easy and natural because rather than having a conversation with people going ‘right, Okay, when can I talk about my stuff? When can I start convincing them? They need to work with me? When can I do this? When can I do that?’ You just relax and you open up and you have a conversation and you get to talk about your stuff, they talk about their stuff, and if you’re clever, which I’m sure all of your listeners are, you can hear when they say, ‘Oh, my God, I really need that. I really need to put together a community project. I really need to sort out my branding, you know? Have you got any tips? Have you got any ideas?’ That’s when you can say ‘Well, actually, I’m running this group programme next week, would you like me to send you the info? It’s going to be like all this stuff that we’ve just talked about’ which is a much easier way to sell something to somebody and being like ‘Right. Okay.Did you know you need branding?’
P: Yeah. Did you know you need branding or throwing all your money at Facebook to get in front of people who you have never ever connected with and you have no idea whether they are your kind of people or not, because I mean, demographics can only get you so far. And to me, the psychographics such as, you know, you shared values beliefs, and that’s a lot more important to me than going off demographics alone. I don’t care where you live. I don’t care if you’re 30 years old, or 60 years old, 94 years old. But if you click with me and we have the same kind of personality, and you need your brand sorting out, come and speak with me because
E: It’s a gut thing. It’s an instinct rather than those ideal customer avatar exercises have never worked for me at all, because my people come in all shapes and sizes and all, you know, every combination of demographics you can think of. But what really matters is this indefinable thing that I know when I see it.
P: The gut feeling or intuition, as some people would like to call it.
I just think that it’s for some people. It’s easier to be in tune with the vibes other people are sending out, and like picking up on the little subtle hints that you know body language, that it doesn’t have to be anything spiritual about it. It’s just sometimes sometimes it’s literally just your ability and I believe this ability could be trained to pick up on cues from other people that they are sending out in the way they talk in the way they move in the way they behave.
E: Yeah, absolutely, absolutely.
P: Oh, I could talk about this for hours on end but I think we need to round our conversation off with at least a few minutes. We can carry on the conversation afterwards. But if you could give our listeners just one simple tip before we round off today what would that be?
E: It’s just talking to people, actually, more importantly, listening to people because when you listen to people, that’s where all the information is. That’s where you get everything that you need, and you also give people a guest gift of just listening to them.
I had a question from somebody recently who was talking about virtual coffee dates, and she said, ‘I’m worried that If I just ask people about themselves, they’ll just talk about themselves and I won’t be able to tell them about my thing.’ And I said, ‘Well, actually, it’s more valuable to you to hear what they have to say.’ And you know, generally, most people will realise that they’ve been talking about themselves for, like, solid 30 minutes, and we’ll ask you about yourself. But even if they don’t, you get the gorgeous feeling of just being able to give someone the gift of being listened to and sometimes that’s what people really need most of all. Whatever happens from that is going to be a good thing.
P: It’s going to be a good thing for sure.
E: Have conversations with people, listen to what they say, listen to what they’re not saying. Listen to their frustrations and what they’re pissed off, about what gets them excited and then use that data to make your business better, your brand better, your communities better. Everything. It makes everything better.
P: Love it. So if anyone is listening right now, is sitting there thinking, ‘Oh, wow, I need this person in my orbit. I want to be in community with Eli. How can they connect with you? How can they learn from you? Work from you, possibly, tell us all the juicy details.
The best thing to do is to come over to my website, which is http://elitriercommunities.com and sign up for my Sunday letters. That’s a weekly email that goes out. It’s where all of my best thinking and community and stuff, that’s where it all happens.
P: And it’s really good, I’m just going to point out that it’s one of the few email newsletters that actually get opened.
E: Wow, that’s an honour. I have to admit. I do get that quite a lot from people. They’re my special thing, that’s the thing I do best. So I’m thrilled to hear that, and they’re designed to be less of a broadcast and more of a conversation. The vast majority of my email inbox is taken up with people replying in the conversations that we’re having off the back of what I’ve written about every week. So that really is the kind of the community aspect, people who I build relationships with there are the ones that get, like, special first looks at things. They get introduced to the people that I know it’s a relationship as we’ve just been talking about.
P: I love that you shared that because that’s something that’s not usually visible to people. That’s something that’s usually between you and the people responding to you. And now people know that that’s a possibility that they can do that.
E: Yeah, absolutely and instantly I actually have a whole course that teaches people how to do just that. So that’s one of the ways that people can work with me.
But, yes, I am on instagram a little bit, not very much. The email is really where it’s all about for me these days. I’m just about to go into- I only open up for bookings once or twice a year for community projects from the first of November. That booking period is open until spots fill up, which doesn’t usually take very long. I don’t work with very many people every year, one to one. So if you’re interested in community project, that’s the place to come and talk to me about it.
P: I don’t know when this is going out, but if it’s in November, it might be in November, it might be December. But either way, people know to reach out via your website, and they if they sign up to your newsletter, they’ll probably get a little heads up when you next open for you have collaboration,
E: They will, they’ll get all the information all in all
P: I love it, brilliant. Thank you so much. This conversation has been an absolute joy. I wish we could stay on and talk for a lot longer than that.
E: Likewise, it’s been such a treat, and thank you for asking such interesting questions. It’s been a wonderful conversation.
And while we’re on the topic of community… I have decided I want to connect with more awesome people in 2022. If you’d like to grab a virtual cuppa with me, find a time here.
Until next time,
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