5 Key Actions to Engage Your Tribe


5 Key Actions to Engage Your Tribe

Last week I attended a sales training webinar. It was one of the many that caught my eye in my overflowing inbox, promising a chance to grow my list. It offered the Exact Steps Taken by yet another successful entrepreneur to grow their business very quickly.

The trick, they said, is to build a big sales funnel. Big sales funnels lead to increased sales. Without a big sales funnel you won’t get sales, they said.

I left with a sinking feeling in my stomach.

I don’t want Big.

I want Engaged. I want Connected.

After the webinar I set off to my Contemplative Rock, a promontory of rocks overlooking the majestic Georges River; a place where I go to think. It was just past sunrise, and I settled in, a sense of peace flooding my body. I asked myself my favourite question: ‘What do I want? What do I really want?

I closed my eyes to work it out.

I focused on the images of the Funnel (big to small, and a few people dropping out at the bottom of the funnel as ‘ideal clients’). But try as I might, it just didn’t feel right for me. Instead I saw a Circle: an image of lots of people together, all talking to one another, calling to one another across the crowd, and engaging with me and my message. I was somewhere in the middle, surrounded by close people, and connected loosely to the people on the outside of the circle.

I thought about my Circle in business and in my personal world. I thought about the stories they entrust me with, about how they connect with my message, and how they connect with me.

These people are my base, my home, my Tribe.

They rejoice in my success, and contribute to my growth. They gain from the involvement not just with me, but with everyone else in the tribe. They are not just potential dollars, but individuals with needs and issues and challenges.

They are engaged and happy to be there; they are connections and connectors.

I feel good when I think of them. I feel proud when I am supported by them. They champion me and they champion the causes I stand for. They are not necessarily clients, but more often they are people who refer clients to me.

On my Contemplative Rock that morning I listed five key actions I regularly take to build my tribe. You might want to take these actions to build your tribe:

1. Spend some time each week thinking about the contribution and benefit equation for each member of your tribe

Make sure that each person has an opportunity to both contribute to and benefit from the tribe. No one wants to be only a giver or only a taker. They want the opportunity to do both.

2. Personalise your communication with your tribe

Wherever possible use one-to-one communication with your tribe. Replace group emails with short personalised messages whenever time permits. Never send irrelevant group messages that make people feel like they are just a number.

3. Listen, really listen, to what is happening for each tribe member

Be curious, and take a genuine interest. Remember you are not building followers, you are building connections and relationships.

4. Use the Accountability, Affirmation and Celebration triangle

My tribe thrives on knowing they are being held to account, on being affirmed, and on celebrating one another’s success. This is a simple triangle that builds trust and connection.

5. Be the gatekeeper

Every strong tribe has a strong leader. You might invite co-hosts to your tribe, or you might step out of the way for a little while at a time. But always keep batting people back to the core values you have become known for. This is not so much censorship as it is boundary setting. It differentiates a great tribe from a mediocre one.

Treat every member of your tribe as you would like to be treated. Build them up, and connect them to one another. Don’t take their engagement for granted. Over time your tribe will become your referrer network, and that is gold.

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  • Lyn

    I belong to a tribe of Rosemary’s and can attest to the relevance of the 5 actions. Being part of a tribe led by Rosemary who embodies and models these 5 actions has led to a spillover in my life and practice. You’re right Rosemary, it’s not about big, it’s about connected. The benefits of this way of being are big, however.

  • Rosemary

    I like that – the benefits of this way of being are big. I think so. Andrew Griffiths and I are going to talk about that in a webinar tomorrow, which can be found in Smallville events. I’d love to deepen this conversation and I will add some key points that come from webinar participants after the event to these comments.

  • Rosemary

    Andrew Griffiths and I ran a webinar this morning dealing with the key areas of importance about building a tribe. I was interested in the questions that came through from participants – they included the following areas of concern when building a tribe:
    – Have the confidence to know that people are interested in what you have to say (our answer? Ask them what they want, deliver it, and you don’t have to consider confidence in the mix – serve their needs)
    – How to make a safe space for a tribe if the area of engagement is a tough one – like mental health issues (the same applies to all tribes – it has to be a safe space, and it has to have tribe rules, otherwise people can mess with the trust)
    – How to increase diversity so your tribe is not an ‘echo chamber’ of same same (an idea is to encourage diversity actively by asking people to invite others into the tribe so that they can bring new insights and new contributions.
    Feel free to add anything to this discussion.
    – How to set expectations of behaviour and engagement in the tribe (and the most useful way to do this is, once again, to ask what people want and how they want to engage)
    Perhaps one of the key points was to not thrust yourself at your audience as a tribe leader, but rather build community and if the community starts to consider themselves to be a tribe, all the better.

  • Desley Cowley

    I love it Rosemary. Great article. Thanks Tracy Sheen for pointing it out.

  • Ray Littlefield

    Hello rosemary,
    This blog article was great. I really like the clear and concise advice and strategy presented. Not only can the ideas presented apply to an external “tribe” sourrounding a small business, but the philosophy can be applied internally to small to large organisations and even social group. Thanks for sharing.

  • mm
    Rosemary Shapiro-Liu

    Ray, this comment somehow slipped by without my seeing it. Yes. this is so.. I have a strong commitment to building tribe in this way so that we can create connections where they are needed across divides. Those bridges, and those collaborations, repeatedly have positive spin-offs for everyone.

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