When I started this Salon I was overwhelmed that 20+ people showed up for call.
I introduced the session by talking about a conversation I had with Alisa. She is starting as a coach and one of my first recommendations to her was: start with community! I didn't refer to a community platform like Reddit or Circle for example. Rather I mean any community of people that will keep a relationship with her as the expert. This weekly Salonis a good example of how I started with community. By connecting with other people via Zoom conversation, I immediately got a sense of the community I would like to serve going forward with knowledge entrepreneurs.
And just like everybody else, I didn't start from thin air. I was fortunate to be able to start from within the Ness Labs community. A kind and generous community where many smart people meet to talk about mindful productivity, note-taking, and learning in general. That's where I first started to talk about my expertise and how I intend to create value for creators by focusing on expertise, creating, audience, and earning.
From my own experience I can confirm the following benefits when starting with community:
- A recipient for your messages - this is what successful authors and bloggers, like Tim Ferriss, regularly recommend. Write your articles or newsletters as if you would be writing to a friend. This step is even easier when you start with a community as you can think immediately of real people that you can address.
- Accountability - when you start with a community as recipient for your messages, you'll feel an obligation to live up to your promises, right away. For example, I write this article on the day before the next Salon, because I do feel accountable to send this article out on time together with the invitation. This is productive pressure.
- Reward - having conversations with a community of people that see value in your offer, even if it is only a single person or a small group, feels genuinely rewarding right away. You'll see how your expertise creates value for other people. This is much better than assuming that your work will create value somehow in the future.
- Feedback - a community will provide you right away with feedback, in the form of reactions, comments or even reaching out for constructive criticism. You'll see engagement in different forms. This is how you can get better right away.
Narayan followed up on this how creating in public is a great way of forming a community right from the start, as the content you'll put out there will have a huge resonance with your target audience.
Trevor referred to Geoffrey Moore (Crossing the Chasm) how people who share the same problem, talk to one another. If you help some of them to solve their problem, word will get around. This network effect will grow your community right away.
Another benefit is, that if you communicate with other people, you have to be precise, you have to be clear on your message. So instead of creating grand theories in your head, it can be very helpful to be forced to communicate the core messages to a community again and again.
Someone mentioned the story of Chris Rock (or was it Kevin Hart?)and how he performs his jokes always first to very small audiences, to see their reactions. Only with proven jokes, he would then go on a world tour.
Shay shared how we often talk about people being organized or not and that having a community gives you the drive to become an organized person, no matter where you started. Quinten and Ziga second that by sharing both how a deadline for their newsletter works wonders to get things done. On the other side, Sourav and Fraser explored the thought, whether a deadline would compromise on quality. For example Tim Urban from the Wait But Why Blog has a reputation for working on a very thorough article for a very long time, without any deadline.
Ziga brought up the point that he is OK with the feeling of not getting any response because he is on a way to optimize his skills.
We moved forward to talk about which formats or media are suited to build a small community right from the start. This Salon is one example but we also talked about posting in existing community forums (like Circle) or even Co-working can be a start.
It personally resonated a lot with me when Trevor explained how different media (text, audio, personal interaction) can be seen as different tools for processing knowledge. Some people prefer to do this in writing, some by talking in conversations. The process itself adds value to the person participating because it reorganizes, emphasizes, and produces new insights! Ziga added how he would often write articles out in hand because of the deliberate reduction of output and only then summarize them in digital form.
I believe we are soon reaching a point where digital notes will have many advantages over hand-written notes because a digital archive can be parsed by AI algorithms to provide valuable insights to you. For example, I took thousands of digital photos over the years and never really looked at them. Recently I got a widget on my phone that presents pictures from this archive based on matches from the current date, location, or calendar events, etc. This suddenly gave me a huge value from my digital database of pictures.
Writing a summary is another very common and powerful form of processing thoughts and knowledge. Trevor pointed out how there are more and more digital summarising tools that one could use as a tool to process written text to extract some insights. Like the Hemingway editor that allows improving your writing for clarity, a summarizing tool could be a tool to improve your thinking in writing. GPT-3 is another great example of how powerful text-based machine learning could become within the next couple of years.
Overall this was an outstandingly wonderful and insightful Salon and as usual a few of us stayed longer for the fireside chat, where we talked about communities, the cooperation of knowledge entrepreneurs, and how there is no competition in the digital space.
Consider to join us some time, if a topic resonates 🙂