Beyond the Agenda: From Networking to Community Building

When we seek out human connection, what exactly is it that we’re looking for? Support? Inspiration? Collaboration? 

All of the above? 

For brands that want to meet all of these needs within their audience, they need to do more than just offer networking opportunities. They need to build a thriving community. 

Everyone can create a network, but it takes a strategic approach to event planning to build a community. 

What’s the difference between a network and a community?

Before we dive into how to build a community, let’s take a look at what exactly the difference is between a network and a community. 

Networks are interconnected groups of individuals or organisations, normally linked by shared traits like industry, or profession. On the other hand, a community is a group of people that share common values and interests and have a deeper emotional connection to the people around them. 

While networks can provide valuable channels for making connections and information sharing, communities offer brands more valuable benefits, such as: 

  • Establishing trust with your brand: Letting people up close and personal with your brand will deepen their connection to your offering and your unique brand identity. 
  • Opportunities for collaboration: Share resources, connections and projects, in a community that prioritises shared progress over individual success. 
  • Create brand advocates: Generate long-term relationships between your brand and your audience, and have people actively advocating for your business. 

So let’s take a look at some of the core principles you can apply to your event planning that will help you build a strong, long-lasting community.

Offer a customisable experience 

By offering your community members the tools to create their own experiences, you can empower them to build their own bespoke relationship with your brand. To do this, you can offer a varied event calendar that includes a curated mix of:

  • Event locations: As well as hosting events in the ideal locations for your attendees, you can also offer a mix of online, in-person, and hybrid events. 
  • Event formats: Select the perfect format for your audience and their goals, such as an intimate workshop, a thought-leading seminar, or a purposeful meet and greet. Depending on the goal and the target audience of each event, offering a range of event types allows attendees to continue to connect and collaborate beyond the main event. 

Give, don’t take 

As a brand, your focus should always be on how you can add value to the people in your community, instead of bombarding them with requests 24/7. Here’s how you can build a community that adds value, not overwhelm: 

  • Understand what your audience needs: To create a truly fulfilling community for your audience, you need to understand their definition of value, as well as their needs and wants. Use social media listening tools to find out what your audience is looking for from a community space. 
  • Create a dialogue with your audience: There’s no better way to understand what exactly your audience wants from you than to ask them directly. Give them plenty of opportunities to add their feedback on how their community should be built, and keep them engaged and active in your community.

Ready to take your audience from a passive network to a thriving community? 

Get in touch with the First Event team. 

Using our expertise, we can build your custom event strategy that builds a supportive and engaged community, filled with avid supporters of your brand.