One of our favorite Simplicity 2.0 quotes from the past year came from Susan Buck of the Women’s Coding Collective. “Build a tribe,” she said. “You’re going to find yourself at a lot of interviews, at conference sessions, and at meeting tables where you’re going to wonder, ‘Do I belong here?’ Often, as you look around at a majority that does not look like you, you'll really start to doubt that you do.”

Buck offered this advice in the context of female programmers, but really, it applies to anyone. Who doesn’t need a group of other people to share experiences with? And who hasn’t felt like an outsider?

Okay, having a tribe is good. Check. But how do you get one?

The basic concept of a tribe is a group of people united by a common idea that is willing to take action on that common idea. You may be wondering, ‘How is that different from networking?’ In some ways, it is similar because it involves making connections. But there are major differences.

First, the thread that connects members of the tribe is the shared idea. “Tribe building is NOT about converting people to your way of thinking,” writes Laura Rubinstein on the Social Buzz Club blog.  “Rather, it is gathering those who already have the need or challenge you address.”  In other ways, members should be different. If you work in higher education, for instance, it’s a good idea to have members of your tribe who are in the private sector or government. If you work on the East Coast, make sure some members are in the Midwest or the South. Otherwise, your tribe is too insular and basically becomes an echo chamber.

Second, your tribe must feel so strongly about the shared idea that members are willing to do something about it. You’ve got to have people who are willing to take action. “You will never capture 80% of people into your funnel, but you may capture 100 or 1,000. When you do, these are the people that you want to market to,” writes Penny C. Sansevieri, CEO of Marketing Experts. “Keeping in mind that out of that 100 or 1,000, not all of these people will turn into fans. Some may not like your work, but some will. This is how you start to grow your tribe.”

So how do you convince people to take action on your behalf? In short, it takes building relationships over a period of time—not just when you need something. “You must spend several months beforehand building your tribe of believers that want your product and support what you’re doing,” writes Carolina Alvo in Fast Company.

It also implies that you would be willing to do things on behalf of the other members of your tribe. “Instead of asking what you can get from someone else, think about your connections and how you might be able to help them,” writes Jared Ringel in Entrepreneur. “This expands your network naturally so that when you want an introduction or need help, you know exactly whom to ask.”

“Make a list of all of the people you can go to for a favor and you are sure that favor will be granted,” agrees Marc Miller in the Business 2 Community blog. “That is Your Tribe! It’s like the barn raising communities where you all help your neighbor build his barn, knowing—without asking– he’ll show up with lunch and a hammer to help you raise yours.”

Tribes are powerful because of what they can do, says Seth Godin, author of Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us. “It’s tribes—not money, not factories—that that can change our world, that can change politics, that can align large numbers of people. Not because you force them to do something against their will, but because they wanted to connect,” he says in a TED talk. “What we do for a living now, all of us, I think, is find something worth changing, and then assemble tribes that assemble tribes that spread the idea and spread the idea. And it becomes something far bigger than ourselves: It becomes a movement.”

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