Your customers are bombarded by messages from marketers. Every brand is trying to reach them, connect with them and sell to them. The same goes for your employees — there’s no shortage of companies trying to attract the best talent through competitive pay, positive culture and unique benefits.

Instead, smart leaders are looking for more sustainable, authentic ways to connect with customers and employees — like building community.

Why Community Matters More Than Ever

The concept of community isn’t new. “Communities, in the traditional sense, have been important for a very long time — from traditional communities like a church to something as simple as participating in a local sports team,” says Damon Klotz, head of industry and public relations at the employee feedback platform Culture Amp. “I think they matter more than ever, and now we’ve seen the rise of branded communities. CMX, the premier community body, defines a brand community as a community with a specific business objective led by an executive sponsor, where a company creates a space for people with a common sense of identity to participate in ongoing, shared experiences.”

How to Build a Community of Potential Customers

To be successful in building a community of potential customers, don’t approach them as potential customers. The selling comes after the relationship has been established.

In order to build community with customers and potential customers, it’s important to establish yourself as a trusted expert. That’s what the global mobility company Topia has done. Chief Marketing Officer Julie Knight-Ludvigson says the company uses a customer summit and customer advisory boards to build connection among global mobility professionals.

How to Build a Community Among Employees and Candidates

Microsoft uses a variety of methods to build community among its employees, starting with new hires. For example, the company piloted an Onboarding Buddies program to help employees start their experience on the right foot. “That’s one way to grow communities and to get new hires really ingrained into the culture and the work that we do here,” says Dawn Klinghoffer, head of people analytics at Microsoft.

The company has also used its Yammer platform to grow micro-communities of employees. “Within Yammer there are a ton of groups, like the Yammer group for food enthusiasts. Employees share restaurant recommendations and ask for tips on the best food in a city they’re visiting. “We have people located all over the globe, and some of them are experts on the food of their area,” Klinghoffer says.

Download the full TalentCulture white paper “Community! Why It Matters and How to Build One Around Your Brand” to learn more about the importance of community and how building one — or several — can help your business grow.

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