32:2 Getting plugged into online community
Being a business owner, or part of a business design agency can be tough. I remember how lonely I would often feel battling the day to day challenges with no one else to talk to. In this weeks episode we share how to get plugged into the online community to create a support network.
Lee Matthew Jackson
We will unpack:
- The benefits of community
- Great communities to join
- Agency Trailblazer
- Admin Bar
- WP Builds
- Blog post with more options
- What to expect
- Helpful content
- How to get the most out of them
- What to avoid
- Too much time
- Too many groups
- Getting involved in arguments
We will wrap up with general updates on the Agency Trailblazer Podcast and the direction we are heading into 2020.
Lee Matthew Jackson: Welcome to The Agency Trailblazer podcast this is your host Lee, and today we’re going to be talking about the importance of getting plugged in to community and with a particular bias towards online communities. Now let’s set the scene. First of all, I’m hanging out as an agency owner and there is so much work on, perhaps I’ve got business partners, perhaps I’ve even got a team and yet the buck stops with me. I have got to juggle so much. There is so much pressure on me. There are teams that I have to pay, there are teams that I have to organise, there are clients that I have to please and have to be able to deliver for and it’s generally a really stressful environment.
Now, if I think back, say 10 years ago when I was running our large agency down in Bedford, that was pretty much my life. There was so much pressure and no one else to share that with. So being able to have conversations with other people and say, Hey, this is what I’m going through right now. Number one is an amazing vent. You can just get rid of some of the stress that’s all bottled up inside of you, but also you can get somebody else’s perspective. Now if you think about it, we are so good aren’t we at giving other people advice? So someone will come up to you, they’ll describe to you an extremely stressful situation and then you surprise yourself by being able to give them a real clear answer and say, Hey, you’re looking at this all wrong. If you just do X, Y, and Z, this will enable you to resolve the problem. So why is it that we can be so amazingly calm with other people and give them amazing advice and yet when we’re rocking around on our own, we’re completely stressed out and we just cannot see the wood for the trees? So this is why it’s important that we are getting plugged into community. This is why it’s important that we get to know other people, that we can have those sorts of friends who are on the outside who can look in at our situation and give us that reasonable, stable and obvious advice that we probably can’t see for ourselves because of the stress of that situation.
Being plugged into communities has helped me personally with so many different areas of my life. I mean if you think back again 10 years ago I was surrounded by people, but I was still lonely and being able to create a community around me has been a wonderful resource to just eradicate that loneliness, that feeling that the buck stops with you. That feeling that everyone is focused on you, that you’ve got to do everything and that it’s lonely at the top. It’s a horrible experience, but having those people around me on the online community has just been phenomenal. Things like mental health has been helped with people being able to discuss with them the problems I’m going through, just being able to vent, etc. I remember a few years ago when I was having problems with a contract, I got help again through the online community with people who had been in that situation before. Other folks who had really good processes would share those processes with me when it came to project management, et cetera and I remember Dan Connor reaching out years ago actually coming on the podcast and completely transforming my understanding of how to manage a project. That has massively impacted the way we run our business and our projects and our organisation and our administration to this day. So I must remember to put a link to that particular episode from back in the day.
Of course the most important thing from community that I’ve received is friendship. You know who you are, who’s listening to this show. I’ve many really close friends online. Heck, we’re on WhatsApp nowadays. We’re chatting regularly, sending goofy pictures, sending voicemails to each other, and having some wonderful conversations and some really open and honest conversations as well. Things that I can’t talk about necessarily online, in an online community, but because of these friends who were people I met online who were people I connected with, they have now become those close friends that I can have those personal conversations with and half of them I’ve never even met. We’ve never even got to hang out in the same room, but we’re all best buddies.
So in this week’s episode I want to share with you just three key communities that I believe you should go ahead and check out. However, please note that are many more and I will put a link to a blog post I did a while back, which shares a whole range of Facebook groups. So the first group is our very own Agency Trailblazer Facebook group. You can come and hang out with us. There are at least 3000 people in there now and it’s a community where people can feel free to ask any questions. It doesn’t matter what it is with regards to agency life running that business strategy, etc and there are many people who will jump in and help. Also it’s a great place to share good news and gifs. So it’s a really good and a friendly environment. Obviously it’s something that I host, so something that I’m very invested in and that’s where I go and hang out and a lot of my friends are in that too. So that’s the Agency Trailblazer group. You can check out the links in the show notes.
The next group is run by Kyle Van Deusen. I would recommend you go hang out in there. Kyle and his team are phenomenal. They really do heavily invest in the content that they create. They put lots of time into the show, they put lots of time into the community as well and the folks in there are just as friendly as the folks in Agency Trailblazer as well. I would call them brother and sister groups because they are both wonderful places to be with. Then the final group would be the WP Builds group with Nathan and Dave. Within that, there are always tonnes of great offers. So if you want to go and take a look at some cool new tool or some good offers on some software etc then they are always covering those sorts of things, but they also have all of the latest at WordPress news etc. If you are a WordPress based agency, then that’s going to be very helpful. And again, it’s a very friendly community, people within there are not being rude to each other. There is no huge arguments etc, none that I’ve seen at least so it’s just a nice environment to be a part of. So again, I’m going to put a link in the notes for all of the other Facebook groups I recommend. Those are the top three that I’m a part of, but there are many more that will cater to your specific needs. Obviously we have a very heavy WordPress background, so ours are going to be quite WordPress centric if you’re a Magento agency or from a different space than you might be looking for something of a different environment.
So let’s look at what you can expect from a Facebook group. At first it’ll probably be a whole load of noise. You’ll log in, you’ll join one of these groups and you’ll just see tonnes and tonnes of posts and it’s going to take a little bit of time to get into the swing of things. You’ll probably want to take a look around, look at some of the posts and read through the posts and the comments that resonate most with you. So perhaps someone has asked a question about something they don’t understand and you feel you can either go ahead and add value to that or you feel you’d also like to learn the answer from that question. Then if you go through the comments, you can start to learn who are the people that are contributing the most to the conversations that are going on. If you’ve got something of value to add, go ahead and share that and also give kudos to people who have added some value in there already. It’s a very good comment, it’s very helpful, et cetera and if you found that helpful, give that one a like and also tell them in a replied comment that you have also had value from that. Now this is something you need to invest some time into. You’re going to have to build community over time. You can’t jump in there and start posting stuff about your business, advertising or whatever and just badgering people. That’s the worst thing you could possibly do. But what you can go ahead and do is go ahead and get involved in those conversations and give it time. Give it a few weeks, a few months as you start to build up relationships, as you start to contribute to those questions that are being asked as you start to ask your own questions. And also as you start to build up those relationships with other people from within the community. It’s exactly how I started within Facebook groups was going into those questions, answering them if I had anything of value to help with or giving kudos to those who had given great answers and just developing those relationships.
Other things that you can expect is a little bit of spam. Now unfortunately, this is the web. There are people who will likely try and post some of their own stuff. So very often I will get some spammy threads that are popped in there if you see that, do a solid for the community owner and just report that as spam. So these community, owners are working hard to create a safe space and they’ve also built up big audiences etc and I don’t think it’s really fair for other people to just jump in on that and start to try and spam larger communities. Other things you may also find is that you may get some direct messages off other people who are trying to sell you things. So certainly online community is wonderful but there are a few pitfalls as well, so do expect helpful advice and a great community but also don’t go in there blind. Do also expect that there will be some spam. There may also be some rude people in there. It does happen. This is an online space. Trolls do still exist in 2020 I’m afraid. And again, if you see someone being rude, if you see someone trolling, try not to get involved in that cause that’s not really very healthy for you. But do report any sort of incidents like that as well. So become somebody that helps build a community that is a safe and a comfortable space. If we ever see that happening in our own Agency Trailblazer community, then people are banned instantly. We don’t like bullies. We don’t let people being rude and we certainly don’t like spam either. So now you know.
So once you’ve established yourself within a group, I would recommend that you only commit to one or two groups. If you’re a member of too many, then you’re going to spread yourself too thin and you’re also going to be attracted by all of the notifications and all of the conversations that are coming in from multiple groups. This is something that me and Paul Lacey made a massive concerted effort about a year ago now where we actually removed ourselves from a whole load of groups because we found that we were spending way too much time on social media. That we were getting attracted into conversations on the long threads and we were providing tonnes and tonnes of time of support to other people and it was actually to the detriment of our own businesses. So I’d recommend try and find one or two communities you can be a real good part of and then kind of control the amount of time that you’re spending in there. Finally in amongst all that, see if you can establish a few of those close friends, people that you can communicate with offline, you know, through WhatsApp, through telephone calls, and also meet up with. So again, with the communities that I’ve been a part of, yes, a lot of my friends I’ve never met because of the geographical location, but at the same time many of them I also have met, I’ve got to hang out just last week with Pete Everitt. We went to the Youpreneur incubator together and we spent two days hanging out and having some real good conversations. Some real deep conversations, really to help us both work through things. It was a phenomenal time, so see if there are people within these groups that you can really connect with and create some good deep friendships with.
Right, let’s do a little recap. If you were a member of our premium group, may it rest in peace. I always like to do a recap just to help people understand what it is they’ve learnt. So we’ve talked about the benefits of community, how you can be quite lonely as an agency owner and having some sort of online community can give you that space to be able to vent, to be able to ask questions and to be able to add value. I then went ahead and shared three groups where I feel safe in. So the three groups that I feel safe in, you obviously need to go ahead and find yours, but remember there is a link in the show notes to an article I wrote that is full of really great Facebook groups. We also talked about what to expect. We said that they would be helpful conversation, they would be also things like a lot of noise and a lot of spam. So we have to ensure that we are a helpful community member by reporting that spam, not getting involved in arguments, et cetera, but also being helpful to those who are actually asking for real help. We talked about how to get the most out of groups as well, so we discussed going through previous conversations where you might be able to add some value or that you might be able to get some value from and then when you get value, make sure you give those relevant people kudos. We also talked as well about trying to establish some good friendships within the group as well.
So to wrap up this episode, I want to share with you a few changes that are happening to the format of this show. You may have noticed that there has been a significant increase in solo shows, so that’s me sharing something with you and kind of a lesson format. Some of that we’ve repurposed from the old premium group. What we’re doing is moving towards a model where the episodes moving forward will be predominantly solo shows. There’ll be about 15 to 20 minutes long where we go on one particular topic and try and give you a few nuggets of wisdom that you can action. What we’ve kind of learned over the years is that the interviews are a great format, but people often will get value from the more short form of solo content where they have a few actions that they can apply to their own lives.
So from this particular episode, for example, there are a few bullets that you would be able to take down from this episode. In fact, they’re in the show notes and you would then be able to take action and start to experience that in your life and in your business. So this is the format that we’re going with 15 – 20 minute long shows, predominantly solos. Don’t worry though, the interviews will be moving over to our new podcast that we’ll be launching in a few weeks time. That will be the Agency Transformation podcast, which compliment the Agency Transformation Live show that we have here in the UK every single year. That’s where we will still be doing the interview format and talking with agency owners who have completely transformed their business and we will learn with them how they did it so that we can learn the lessons that they went through. So that will be over on agency transformation.fm. If you keep your eye out, we will be announcing that new podcast real soon.
So to wrap up this episode, go ahead and check out the blog posts I referenced in the show notes that covers a range of Facebook groups. See if you can find a place to plug yourself in and develop some relationships and good friendships. If you are a Facebook group addict also, consider doing a purge so that you can use Facebook groups for what they are intended, building good community friendships, help etc and for them not to become a massive distraction in your life. Again, that’s all covered in the blog posts that I also reference. Finally, if you want to hang out with us in real life and make some real life physical friends, don’t forget that tickets are now are running out for Agency Transformation Live, which will be in may. It’s a two and a three day event. The third day will be very much around masterminding and implementation, so that means we’ll do some deep diving on that one as well. If you can make it for the two or the three days, that’s 6th May check out agencytransformation.live. There are limited tickets available, folks. We will see you in next week’s episode.