Do you want to give the impression that you are a leader in the customer community your startup serves, or in the professional startup field in which you work?
It’s not a rocket operation: become the person who regularly creates a meeting and community about it.
Say you’re one [professional] in [startup category]Like it [product manager] in [aged care SAAS].
There are general meetings for PMs that you attend but nothing about elder care, or there are elder care meetings but not for PMs.
You might be surprised at how many people you need to bring together on a regular basis to create a viable community that supports and learns from each other.
If you all work with very different tools/methodologies, as few as you and two others can be at the heart of something viable.
At first there will be reluctance as you all work for competing startups. But practice the Chatham House Rules and be patient but persistent, and you can usually turn people around with their own FOMO.
The magical power of being the person who starts it and continues to convene it not only puts you at the center of that community, it’s even hard to avoid being seen as the leading authority in that area.
It’s like the more you talk about how little you actually understand about the subject, the more people believe that you’re just humble and that you’re actually a top authority on the subject.
You can create the same effect (and have it applied to your startup rather than yourself) if you are the first to bring together individuals of your startup’s current and potential customers with relevant subject matter experts from their industry.
Suppose your startup sells a SAAS solution to the head of sports departments in schools: you regularly organize and organize a meeting for people interested in using technology in sports programs in school. Invite individuals to share what they’ve tried and how they rate it.
Invest your time in sharing and promoting the insights that come from those meetings (with their permission because: Chatham House Rules) but when you make them feel like an industry expert, it’s a powerful sales tool for you.
Well managed, professional/customer communities create value in knowledge, relationships, content, brand and sales leads; all of which increase in value over time become part of your defensible moat and your personal or company positioning.
None of this is new, it happens every day. But when I introduce it to most starting people, they say it can’t possibly work; that their startup or themselves are simply too unknown to make it work. That’s a common misconception that you need to let go.
No one knew Mike Cannon Brookes and Scott Farquhar before buying a few beers for the engineers they met at industry events, and getting to know them over a brew. Years later, they would boast that Atlassian had no need for sales or marketing.
Few knew Niki Scevak when he started Start mate — a community of ex-operators curious about investments. The successful paper returns of those early years were part of the proof that he and Rick Baker need to increase Blackbird Fund 1.
Lauren Capelin has done it repeatedly! She stepped into tech startups while talking about: #sharing economy and built its brand, knowledge and experience in creating vibrant communities for reinvention fund, Start mate and now @AWSstartups.
There is more! Who are the emerging startup folks you know who have discovered that building a community or bringing a community together is also the way to achieve their goals?