Community Building Real World Stories With Massive Value

community building real world stories

Community Building real-world stories began with Tim McDonald, one of the nicest most caring people I have had the pleasure to spend time with. Always generous with his time and always has a half glass full attitude.

Updated to include transcript 20/03/2022

Community Building Real World Stories Begin With One Person

This was a super exciting interview on community building (real-world stories) with friend Tim McDonald (Former Director of Community at the Huffington Post).  He set strategy and oversaw a team of moderators, with over 300 million comments and 70,000 bloggers!

We discussed how to build communities using social media and build that so it impacts the real world and not just the virtual world. You can also checkout Building a Community Online: Mike Briercliffe.

Tim and I explain the successes that we have had on social media, I explained how I got the largest chain of bars and restaurants in the UK to buy beer from me when I used social media to connect with the buyer of the bar and Tim really digs into how to build your community from the ground up. You can also learn how to Build a Loyal Community of Millions with Angela Maiers.

Community building real world stories begin with one person

Here Tim explains how he built face to face networking events and used social media to do that, from what he says in this interview you could go ahead and build a huge community online or offline or in fact both. So don’t get caught up with the wrong attitude and be yourself.

People thought he did it on his own, but he was the person who helped the others make contact with each other. Tim lives and breathes his words and is surrounded by such an amazing bunch of family and friends he is a pleasure to know.

tim mcdonald

We also discussed how to engage with people in the real world at networking events and what to do and not to do.

Community building real-world stories is what this interview covered and some amazing success stories from Tim McDonald.

I also explain about setting expectations on social media when you meet them and how to get your community to work with you and for you to spread the words to inform the world about what you do, why you do it and why you are different or better than anyone else.

Taking the time to create the right words for people to use to spread your message pays dividends, getting others to do your job for you as a community builder, if you build a healthy community without you being the centre of attention it will go on long after you have left or gone on holiday.

I discussed Richard White’s analogy of feeding others with a huge pair of chopsticks. Take the time to listen to this interview as it is extremely powerful!

Don’t forget it is not about what you want it is about what the community wants, we need to think about what we have that they want, they usually want to have a sense of belonging! Tim McDonald walks this walk and talks the talk, he is always available to speak and share some kind words no matter what is going on in his life and I am truly grateful to call him a friend. If you want to build a community then this is just the interview for you, grab a pen and a piece of paper and make some notes as Tim explains how he built a huge community. I promise you your time won’t be wasted.

Community building online with Tim McDonald (Ex Huff-Post)

This was a super exciting interview on building communities (real-world stories) with Tim McDonald (Former Director of Community at the Huffington Post). He set strategy and oversaw a team of moderators, with over 300 million comments and 70,000 bloggers!

We discussed community building and how to grow community members using social media and build that to impact the real world and not just the virtual world.

Tim and I explain the successes that we have had on social media, I explained how I got the largest chain of bars and restaurants in the UK to buy beer from me when I used social media to connect with the buyer of the bar.

We discussed how to build a successful online community and how to maximise your own online community to do so. Community managers can be used, yes you can hire a community manager, although if you don’t know how to build an online community that would be a waste of money right!

Online community and brand advocates

Online community and brand advocates can help grow your business tremendously. They can also help you to connect with new customers, and help promote your products or services. As an online community grows, the advocates within it will also grow. These people are essential to the success of your online presence and should be cultivated and appreciated.

Find the valuable brand and community advocates

There are a few ways to find these valuable brand and community advocates. One way is to look for people who are inside of communities themselves by using LinkedIn or in a Subreddit or Facebook group. If you reach out to people with a survey or a question or two you will find out that most people will give you some great advice.

If you know your target audience then building online communities is a lot easier, you can recruit community members who are your ideal clients or referral partners. The most active members within your online communities will help you to recruit more community members, being community-focused by understanding who your ideal community member would be and how to recruit them and other relevant community members are tasks that become easier over time, they become easier the more successful you become at writing.

Honing your messaging to attract other community members

Honing your messaging by writing an in-depth blog post is one task that will really help you to understand who your target audience is and what sort of things make them tick.

You may decide that building an online community may be just too time-consuming initially. So to try out an idea you may decide to visit other relevant Facebook groups and seek out the relevant online community who could help you decide if your community management may even be worth it or not. This will in essence save you from spending a lot of time and money in developing your own online community when actually there is not the opportunity you thought in the beginning.

Message the owner of a Facebook group

Messaging the owner of a Facebook group and asking if they would like to partner to deliver a product or service to their Facebook community is a cost-effective way to understand if their online community would help you to sell your product or service.

Decide on your key performance indicators

Once you have some key performance indicators to work with you will be able to decide if building an owned community is worthwhile or not in your case.

Using social media platforms to grow an online community within a free community platform such as a Facebook group is certainly a great idea, although creating a branded online community with a bespoke online community platform is probably going to be a safer bet for your marketing efforts.

Yes, there are many free community platforms. Although understanding what “FREE” and paid actually mean would be a good place to start when considering online community platforms. Thinking about the number of active members and how much it will cost to host those people, the community guidelines and how you will enforce those rules within your online community building efforts is important too.

Here Tim explains how he built face to face networking events and used social media to do that, from what he says in this interview you could go ahead and build a huge community online or offline or in fact both. So don’t get caught up with the wrong attitude and be yourself.

People thought he did it on his own, but he was the person who helped the others make contact with each other. So building successful communities became an easy thing for Tim to do; online community building became natural to Tim and the online community that he built to support the Huffington Post became huge. They had over 70,000 active members within their own community and their community platform handled over 300 million comments from community members.

How to use real-world networking to build online community was crucial

We also discussed how to engage with people in the real world at networking events and what to do and not to do.

Building communities and Tim’s real-world stories is what this interview covered and some amazing success stories from Tim.

I also explain setting expectations on social media when you meet them and how to get your community to work with you and spread the word to inform the world about what you do, why you do it and why you are different and or better than anyone else.

Taking the time to create the right words for people to use to spread your message pays dividends, getting others to do your job for you as a community builder, if you build a healthy community without you being the centre of attention it will go on long after you have left or gone on holiday.

I discussed Richard White’s analogy of feeding others with a huge pair of chopsticks. Take the time to listen to this interview as it is extremely powerful!

What do online communities want?

It is about what the community wants, we need to think about what we have that they want, they usually want to have a sense of belonging!

The full transcriptions to online community building are below

Nathaniel Schooler


Welcome to the build business acumen podcast. And my name is Nathaniel schooler, very excited today to, to have Tim McDonald with me, and he’s actually done some amazing things with community building and he was actually head of community for the Huffington post a few years ago. I am super excited because we are going to share with you how to build a community in the real world. So welcome Tim. It’s, it’s great to speak with you. And today I’m just super excited, because I just interviewed another buddy of mine who who’s in London and he actually builds retail space. He, actually creates retail. So he’s been doing that for a long time. He recently just did under the arches at Waterloo station. There’s like a famous graffiti place and he’s actually just finished doing something really, truly ground-breaking down there. So, this leads on from the conversation that him and I had earlier about how to actually social, to make people go into the real world and actually do what people should be doing best, which is socializing. Right? So over to you, Tim,

Tim McDonald


Well, it’s kind of funny that you’re framing it this way because I’ve never understood what IRL or in real life was supposed to mean. Because if what we do online, isn’t real life, then what are we doing? We’re having a fake life here. We’re having a pretend life here. And I gather that there are simulations. There is like second life. And you know, all these virtual reality things where you can kind of have that pretend or imaginary life. But for the most part we do as far as who we are, what we share, what we’re passionate about, what we, you know, what we, we want to let others know about us and what we want to know about others and how we want to connect with them. That’s all real. There’s nothing fake about it. There’s nothing imaginary about it. There’s nothing pretend about it. And so for me, this whole concept of how we treat what we do online differently than what we do in person. I, I, I can’t fathom why we think that way because yeah, yeah.

Nathaniel Schooler


Sorry. I’ve got to interrupt you there. I, I agree with you completely 100%, but I’ll tell you exactly what we were talking about and that will help you to, to kind of frame it a little bit better. So, so, so we, we were actually talking about how that there are lots of people who are in society now and they have, they have one of these and I’ve forgotten to actually turn that off because I don’t want to be what,

Tim McDonald


What, what

Nathaniel Schooler


Is that? It’s my iPhone.

Tim McDonald


Oh no, I’m just kidding.

Nathaniel Schooler


Thanks for that.

Nathaniel Schooler


But, but the, the major problem, yeah. Is, is the people who are on Instagram, they’re on, they’re on Facebook, they’re on all these channels. Yeah. And they are, they’re in their own world. They’re, they’re actually, they don’t go out. They don’t, they don’t go out very often. They don’t, they don’t speak to other people. They don’t engage in a real conversation. They don’t go and have coffee with their friends. They, they just sit at home. And unfortunately, you know, I mean, I’ve seen a video. I was going to tell Eddie about it earlier. There’s a video of this girl. She won a competition for the video and it’s a girl who she’s clinically, tot clearly totally depressed. Okay. And she’s got her mobile phone and she’s on Instagram and she’s just crave being the likes. And she’s craving the buzz from, from the endorphin hit and the, and the feeling that she gets when people love her, her, her, and give her, give her love and, and, and, and, and attention and, and everything else.

Nathaniel Schooler


Okay. And the video is very, very interesting. And it depicts a girl who in the virtual world is completely different to, to the real world in the real world. She, she’s got very little food to eat. She’s not working. She doesn’t go jogging. She doesn’t have any friends. She doesn’t invite people over for food, not drinking wine with her friends, she’s drinking on her own. But in the real, in the, in the real world or her imaginary world, she is, she is drinking wine with her friends. She’s cooking amazing food. She’s going jogging in the morning. But in the real world, she’s taking pictures of all these things and designing this, this like, but vision of what she, she, she would like her life to be like, but actually it isn’t. And, and, and, you know, suicides are real. Yeah. Depression is, is, is real right.

Nathaniel Schooler


And, you know, and, and this happens to a lot of people, but so, so that led me and Eddie, you know, to talk about what retailers could do to get people, to, to, to go to their environments and actually how the high street is changing and how that’s actually developing into more of a, a space, an open space, a free space, a space where people go to meet each other. They go to have a conversation. They go to, to engage because, you know, we are like chimpanzees, right? Like we, we don’t like scratch each other’s mics and stuff, but we go and, and we engage with our friends and, and, and, and that’s what we should be doing, you know? And, it’s quite sad that people are so addicted to their phones, that they walk around like this, and they don’t have a conversation. You and I are from a different generation than, than, than a lot of people. But

Tim McDonald


I think it’s true with any generation. I, I do. I think it’s true with any generation. OK. The, the, the thing that we’re succumbing to in this, in this world is we’re mistaken fame for relationships. You know, the likes, the, the engagement, the number of followers is all fame. Fame is fleeting. Relationships are a foundation for helping you become a better person, right. And, and surrounding yourself with the people that can help rise you up. And that, I mean, I learned this lesson so early on when I first got on social media 11 years ago, now, when I thought that I could just do everything from online, you know, I was going to revolutionize the real estate industry by never having to go out and show a house because, or I’d, I’d show it once, right? Like, I’d have my buyers go out and drive by the houses that they were interested in. I’d send them the listings; I’d get their feedback. And then once they narrowed it down to like five homes, I’d spend one day with them, we’d go find, you know, look at those five homes. They’d pick one that they wanted to put an offer in. I’d be done. I’d spend like an hour or two hours with them, you know, in person, but everything else would be done, done online. And I’d give them a, a, you know, a, a discount for being, you know, my service is not being every week or every, every day. Right.

Tim McDonald


And it never happened that way. Buyers still want to go in. They want to look, they want to look, they want to go in. They want to look, they want to go in, they want to look, and they want to look some more. And when, when we start looking at that and doing that, you know, it just dawned on me at that moment that no longer could I sit behind my computer, if I wanted to form the relationships with people, to trust me, to bring them into these homes and show’em. And so what I started doing was I started connecting with people using social media to meet up in person. Yep. And you know, some of the first things that I I did was just look for people. I’d searched for people in my local, and I liked eating sushi. And I’d say, who wants to go eat sushi today?

Tim McDonald


And maybe one person would show up. Maybe nobody would show up. Maybe three people would show up. But usually what happened is one person would see it they’d show up and they would connect me with somebody else. Or maybe I’d say, Hey, do you have anybody else that you want to invite that wasn’t on social media that I didn’t know, and they’d bring person. And I met so many people through social media. I did sushi. Tweetups I did, I loved riding bikes. So I did bike riding. Tweetups where we’d meet in Chicago or out in the suburbs where we were, and, and just ride our bikes. And, you know, it wasn’t about us, just all posting pictures. Of course we did that, you know, all together at the end or at the beginning, you know, just saying that this is what we were doing, but we weren’t doing it.

Tim McDonald


When we were riding, we were enjoying the ride. We were enjoying the conversation. We were enjoying each other in nature. And that was really the Genesis of, of what social media was capable of doing. It was capable of being a vehicle, a tool that helped connect us in person. Right. And, and you, you could meet people that you never would’ve imagined meeting before, because I know, and, and you probably know this too, right? It’s like, you know, you meet people in your local neighbourhood, you at shop at the same shops that you go to, that, that grow up in, on the same street or the same neighbourhood that you live in. You meet people that maybe go to your church or your religious organization, you meet people that you went to school with, or that if you have kids that your kids go to school with, you know, in the, the civic organizations that you get involved with, you meet people through that. But it was a very narrow lens of the type of people that you could meet in those types of environments. What social media did was it opened it up to the world. You know, now I can connect with somebody in, you know, in Thailand or in Copenhagen or in Nigeria or in the UK. And it’s just amazing to me, the people and the relationships that I built over time, just through social media and some of these people I’ve never met in person. Yeah.

Nathaniel Schooler


Well, we haven’t, we haven’t

Tim McDonald


Met yet. No, but the

Nathaniel Schooler


Thing, but the thing is, is that we have, we have a common goal, right? Is that, well, we have a few, but we, we want to share information yeah. To, to, to build relationships and make the world a better place by us giving that information away. Right. That’s, that’s what we share. And we share the love of social media and the love of new technology and the love of people. Right. But like, I mean, I I’ve, I’ve done the same thing. I only got onto social media probably nine years ago, I would say. And before that, I used to think Twitter was for Twitters and, and, and, and all this. And, and what I did, I actually, it was very strange. I actually was selling beer about nine years ago for, for, for a few different breweries. And I was selling drinks, brand design. I had free jobs and I had a, and I was working really, really hard.

Nathaniel Schooler


And, and I actually managed to bump into someone in a bar. I, I, I, I went to the ma I went to the manager behind the bar and I said, oh, I’d love to sell you guys some beer. And this guy said, oh, oh, well, I can’t help you. We’re part of the, the, the, it was actually the biggest chain of, of, of, of pubs in the UK at that time. And restaurants and bars. It was, it was massive. Yeah. And, and I, and I spoke to this guy and he said, well, I can’t help you, but don’t worry. There’s a lady over there on, on, on that table, you go speak to her, she’s from head office. And I just so happened to be in there on that, that day. And I, and I sent, I said, how can I connect with you guys?

Nathaniel Schooler


What am I going to do to sell you some beer? She said, oh, well, don’t worry. You just send me an email and, and I’ll connect you with the buyer. And then, and then you can connect with him on LinkedIn and then you, or something like this. And then, and I was like, oh, okay. And I’d kid you not within a week and a half. I managed to connect with the guy on LinkedIn, send him a follow up email and go visit him head office. And I, I had a technique. I brought from the wine industry, which I used to go and take a, a fresh cold draft sample of beer with me and fill it up in these containers. And I would take this to every client that I wanted to get. And I had like a hundred percent conversion. I’m not kidding.

Nathaniel Schooler


I would turn up, you know, my Tweed jacket with my nice shirt on nice bros. And yeah, that was my style back then. Right. Which, which, which I loved. And, and I’d rock up there and I’d say, Hey, here’s some beer. And, and that was how I got the biggest chain of, of, of bars and restaurants to buy from this brewery. And, and then, you know, they just, they just grew incrementally after that. And it is very, very powerful, but the, the problem is ingrained in society. And, and, and, and, and it’s like, what Eddie and I were talking about is like, how are we going to get people to go to a face to face event? Right. And actually, enjoy being there without saying, oh, I must take pictures and stream these fireworks. So that in five years’ time, I can look back that I’m never going to look back on because I don’t, I’ve got so much content. And it’s like, well, how are we going to keep people from doing that is what we were talking about. And it’s about making that experience so amazing that, that they get to love it. Right. And it’s like, what you’re saying about sushi and, you know,

Tim McDonald


Well, well, what you’re describing was kind of the next evolution of what I went through back then. It was, I got involved with social media club, Chicago, but I lived in the suburbs. So it was always like an outreach way commute for me to go to the events. Yeah. And I remember I was, I was at, I went to another suburban event that was even further. It was like an hour and a half away from me. And it was Kelly, Alexa, and, and Sarah Evans hosted a little tweet up on a Friday night. And I took my wife down there and we, we had a couple drinks. We met people. And I remember saying to them, I wish somebody would do this closer to me. Hmm. And they both, at the same time said, why don’t you do it? And, and it just was like, I can’t do this.

Tim McDonald


I can’t bring people together. Like you did. I’m not you. I don’t have the following. I, I was in that theme thing. Right. Like I needed people to already know who I was to do this. And what I quickly learned was if you just do it, and don’t worry about having a goal of how many people show up, just make it so that people you invite and welcome everybody that wants to show up and you don’t make anybody bad for, for not wanting to show up. Yeah. And I had 13 people show up at my first lake county social networking event. And that turned into an average of having 50 people a month monthly for two and a half years show up. But what I learned was it, wasn’t just me creating the space. It just wasn’t me inviting the people there.

Tim McDonald


It wasn’t just what I was giving away, because at first it really went well for the first six months, I’d get 50% people would return each month. And 50% new people would come. So it was always fresh people getting to connect with each other, which is perfect. I love that mix. Yep. But what started happening was I started going up and then I plateaued and then it started going down and I, I started asking some people that were coming that were regulars. I said, what would what’s going on? What do you think I could do to make this better? And they said, I think what you could do is bring in some people that are considered knowledgeable in a certain topic area, have them speak for a little bit. Plus we do the networking instead of it just a hundred percent being networking. Right. And I said, I love that idea.

Tim McDonald


And so I started reaching out to people in the, in the area, invited them to come speak. And then my attendance like shot through the roof. Right. And, and it wasn’t to make money. It was just to bring people together that had a common purpose of wanting to learn about how we use social media to connect and network with each other. Yeah. Instead of just the traditional chamber of commerce networking, which is everybody it’s, it gets into that concept of I, what I said, how we know each other, traditionally it’s by the groups and the organizations and the neighbourhoods that we belong in. This was about how we can use social media to meet people outside of those bubbles and connect with each other. And it was a phenomenal experience, but this all started because I didn’t have a plan of, this is what I wanted to create.

Tim McDonald


I just had a plan that I knew I wanted something in my local community. How can I make that happen? Just start, just try something, start small experiment with it. Don’t look at anything as a failure. If two people would have shown up, it would not have been a failure because I would’ve had a great relationship with those two people. But you know, when 13 people showed up and I started connecting and I started meeting some people that I’m like, I’m not connected with you on Twitter, you know? Oh, you’re so and so on Twitter. And it was like this whole thing of, you know, suddenly, now this, I saw the power in what we did when we brought people into a space that knew each other online and what we could start creating together. And they helped me grow this. I didn’t do it on my own. Right. Like everybody thinks that I did it on my own. I was the one who found the places to have the events at, I was the one who got the speakers, but it was everybody that showed up that helped promote it, that got other people to show up.

Nathaniel Schooler


Right. Right. Right. So, you were the catalyst weren’t you? That, that, that, that lit the fire basically.

Tim McDonald


Yeah. And, and think of that, think of that. How many people have ideas that want to bring people to together that want somebody else to be the catalyst?

Nathaniel Schooler


Well, it’s, it’s business ideas as well. I mean, and do you know what it goes back to? It goes back to what was I reading the other day? Oh, I was watching Elon Musk and he said, he said, starting a start-up business is like eating glass and looking into the Abys.

Nathaniel Schooler


Right. And, and it’s the same, it’s the same as starting a start-up because there’s that nervousness, you know, is it going to work? Am I going to make it happen? Am I going to get there and just look like an idiot, you know? And, but what’s interesting is now you’ve got all these platforms. I mean, you’ve got hundreds of social media platforms. Yeah. Over here. I don’t know about where you are, but meetup is, is very big over here. Oh yeah. And you know, and I’m, I’m sort of looking at meetup and I’m because I just moved. Right. I just moved into a low into a, a city. Yeah. Not, not a very big, not a very big city. And I’m like, okay, so what groups should I join? Mm I’ll think about it. I might join the chamber of commerce because that may be a good, a good business focused group for me to join.

Nathaniel Schooler


Right. And I, and I was just thinking, okay, so my dad used to run a business 18 miles from here for 25 years. So he’s the person I’m going to ask because I want to do business the old school way. Yeah. I want to, I want to go to the right events. I don’t want to mess about with because generally free networking groups whilst they’re a great way to meet people and everything else from prior experience, they generally a lot of the time full of people that just want to spot your badge and the technique I’ve seen it so many times because a friend of mine wrote this book called the, the networking survival guide before he passed away a couple years ago, he wrote this book and, and him and I used to always talk about it and you could see these people. So over here there’s to guy.

Nathaniel Schooler


Right. And I’m just talking to him, his name’s John, Hey John, how you doing? And you’re having a conversation with John and then, and then, and then literally you are in the middle of what you’re saying. Yeah. And, and you know, you, you are not giving him a pitch. You’re just asking him a question or you’re and he’s just going right over here. Yeah. And, and, and, and that I think is the major problem with, with actually all networking events free or paid really. So I’m taking a bit more of a targeted approach to, to meeting people and I will go and I’ll, and I’ll, and I’ll fish very specifically with a fishing rod and I’ll be like, right. Okay. So I know that you are the chief executive of the chamber of commerce. I know that you are going to know a thousand people in this area. And I know that you are going to re me to 10 of those and one of them is give or turn to a client. Right. So, so it’s kind of like, that’s how I’m looking at it from a very, sort of a very targeted laser targeted kind of approach. But what I want to know is how do you build a massive community?

Tim McDonald


Start with one person It’s really that simple. It’s, I’m

Nathaniel Schooler


The guy, I’m the guy, man.

Tim McDonald


You, you start with one and then see if they know somebody else and bring them in. Right. And then see if they know somebody else and bring them in. And if you want to do it quicker, invite two people and then ask each of them to invite two people. And that’s twice as fast. Right. And so, it’s just, it’s it really, when it gets down to it, it is that simple. You can’t expect to build a community by pushing a button, crafting a clever message, you know, getting an influencer to share anything for you. No, what you need to do is you need to start building a relationship with one person. That’s the person you’re with at that time. It exactly that story that you talked about, that traditional networking where you’re having a conversation and that guy sees somebody else and just is like not focused on what you’re saying.

Tim McDonald


That’s the problem. And you can’t do that online either. You need to start with building the relationship with that one person. Yeah. I, I remember SRE had asked me at one of his social media weekends. He, I was just in town in New York, happened to be back. And I was there for part of the day before my flight that afternoon. And he asked me to come up and speak and I only had like three minutes, but he said, if there’s one piece of advice that you could give people on all these communities that you work with, what would it be? And I said, the most important number you can remember is one, the person that you’re talking to in that moment, and that is all we need to do to build communities. Nice. Now you get, you start growing it. This gets down to what you’re talking about, how you’re laser focused on who you want to go after. Yeah. You know, don’t send me a message, you know, to your, your general mail list, if I’m a specific segment of your mail list, right? Yeah. I can’t tell you how many women entrepreneurs, you know, I’m very supportive of that. Sell products to women that I get emails that say, Hey Tim, have you tried our bra, you know, our newest bra. And I’m like,

Tim McDonald


You know, how hard is it to send me one saying, dear Tim, do you have a loved one, a girlfriend, a wife who, you know, who would, who would like, I mean, just do something that the messaging is a little different so that I know you’re talking to me. Yeah. Not to just everybody. That’s on your email list. Yeah. And, and that’s how you start, you know, I’m not saying like we can’t automate things. We can’t do things in mass. The most important number being one doesn’t mean that we always need to be, be one on one. What it means is we need to start understanding how we can, as we grow, because you asked me how we start building a community, right. And start building a movement. It’s getting that one person because that one person brings in somebody else. And then when you get big enough, you start helping those members, empowering them to help each other,

Nathaniel Schooler



Tim McDonald


To help new members. So now you’re not the centre, you’re not the focus. You are just the, that catalyst that helped everybody else feel empowered enough to want to help empowered and enabled. Because if you empower them without enabling them, without giving them the right tools to make it happen, it won’t be successful.

Nathaniel Schooler


It starts with one, you, you build a relationship with someone and then you send them some information that’s really valuable to them. And then they share it with someone else and then they share it and they, they keep sharing it. And it’s like, that is the strength. Isn’t it? It’s like, if I send Tim a message, is he going to actually read that message? Right. And say, oh, that’s now I like him. We bonded. He’s a good guy. Yeah. I’ll reply to him. And I’ll read this message. Yeah. Or is he going to just go, oh, put me in the ignore pile or just ignore the message. Right. So, the most important thing is what you were saying is starts with one. When you initially connect with that individual, if you build that relationship in the beginning and show them what to expect from you, but also, but also explain a little bit why you are on this platform.

Nathaniel Schooler


Yeah. And how you use this platform and what you do for work and why you’re probably not going to respond to their message. Yeah. Then it sets an expectation. Right. So then they know that you’re super busy and you’re not going to respond to them. Or, you know, you know that it’s not a fit. So you send them a message. That’s like, well, it’s lovely to connect with you. And at some stage, you know, we can talk or it’s like, oh, Nathaniel is very busy today. I am his PA Gemma. If you have any business requirements from him, please let me know. And I will pass on a message and see if we can put you in the diary. Right. So for me as an individual, it’s about how warm you’re going to be and how cold you’re going to be based upon who you think you’re talking to. Yeah. However, I agree with what you’re probably thinking, which is, but you don’t know who they know because it is about who they know. Yeah. So if you engage in the right way in the first place, but you set the expectation, you build a little bit of rapport, then you explain to them, et cetera, et cetera, then it all becomes a lot easier. Then it, it, then it does. If you just connect and bombard them. Right. Cause that’s what we’re talking about here. Isn’t it really?

Tim McDonald


Right. Well, it’s about building a relationship, right? Like nobody wants to be hit over the head multiple times for no reason. And think of that every time you’re sending a follow up generated email, right? Every time you’re, you’re pitching yourself. As soon as you connect with somebody, that’s what it feels like to the other person that they’re being hit over the head with a sledgehammer, and they don’t like it. Yeah. So, imagine just the whole thing of, instead of pitching anything, asking something about that person. Right. And, and not, not bombarding them with everything, but getting to know that person understand who they are, what their wants are, and then offering them something that you can connect. You know, what, how I do it, right? Because this is what I have to offer is I offer one of my connections to them. I hear your story. I understand now because you’ve told me what you’re looking for and what you’re excited about creating. I think you might be interested in talking to, so, and so would you like me to introduce you?

Nathaniel Schooler



Tim McDonald


And there’s nothing in it about what I do, what I want out of it, because there is nothing, there’s no expectations. And, but what that does is that builds that relationship because now that person, if they find value in that is going to say, who do I know that I can connect with him? Yeah. Because of what he wants and what he does. And that to me is like, that is how community is built. That’s how that’s when I say, when we empower people, right? Like how do we help our community do this? Because I, as an individual can only do it with so many people.

Nathaniel Schooler



Tim McDonald


My community can do it with a lot of people, a lot more akin by myself. So what if I, you know, empower them to be kind of the ambassadors for the community, to be the ones who help make these connections that I give them the tools to enable them to reach out to other people, to give the, the messaging that I’ve found works for me and for my organization that I’m working with. So, they don’t have to go, come up with their own. They can change it. They can modify it. They can come up with their own. But if they don’t know what to say, they can just use this copy and paste it and send it out. And now they start learning that behaviour without you telling them exactly what to do, you’re just being helpful and giving them the tools and they go out and start doing the same thing that you were doing. Right. I mean, I always say as a community builder, one of the best things that I do is get other people to do my job for me.

Nathaniel Schooler


Yeah. Okay.

Tim McDonald


Okay. And, and it’s that, I mean, that is a job in itself. Right. But yeah, as a community builder, that’s what you want to do. You, if you become the centre of the community and the focal point of the community, when you remove yourself, the community disappears when you build a healthy community that can exist and grow and prosper without you being there. Yeah. That’s because you’ve made it about the community, not about you.

Nathaniel Schooler


Right. Exactly because it’s not about you. It’s about everybody else. I mean, I used to have, like I was saying, this trainer that I had called Richard White, he was brilliant. He, he wrote, wrote a couple of books, he wrote one called the Accidental Salesman. That was his, that was his, he hated hard selling. He absolutely hated it. He, he was like, he was like hard selling or, and he’d go crazy. Because soft selling was his, you know, consultative, soft selling. Yeah. And, and how he looked at, what you are talking about is you feed someone with a very long pair of chopsticks that you can’t fit in your own mouth and that’s, and that’s what he, that’s what he used to say. And it makes a lot of sense because if you are helping someone to feed themselves or feeding them by introducing them to someone who could help and add value, right.

Nathaniel Schooler


Then, then they’re going to feed you or they’re going to introduce someone who’s going to actually feed you and say, Hey look what he just did. He just, he just did this amazing thing for me. And perhaps he can help you. And, and it’s like, it’s in essence. It’s very simple. Yeah. But it’s like, so, so then it comes back to the retail ideas that I was talking about, then it’s like, right. So, what is the message? Right. It it’s like, why are you wanting to build a com in the city? Right. What is that community for? Yeah. Right. And what sort of people do you, do you want? Is that, is that a sensible thought person? Yeah.

Tim McDonald


Well I think, you know, the first thing is you need to understand, you know, what you’re looking to get. Right? I mean that’s as a business owner, that’s what, you know, you want. But you can’t say, I want to have more sales and say and tell your community, I want to have more sales. So, I want you to like me, or I want you to come to my event or I want you to come visit my business. It doesn’t work that way. Right. So if that’s your goal, right. Is to get more business, now start backing it into what does this look like for the community, right? Who is that person in the community that we want to go after, you know? And, and then start looking at what the, what the, the value is to that person. You know? And I mean, we’ve talked about this and I know this is what you’re good at too, is kind of coming up with these personas. Right. Of, of who is that customer that you’re, you’re looking to send that message to. So, you know how to talk to ’em. Yeah. Well, in, in addition to talking to ’em it’s how are you delivering value? How are you giving them what they want out of being part of? Because not everybody in your community needs to be somebody who’s going to purchase from you.

Nathaniel Schooler



Tim McDonald


Like we’ve talked about, they can be referral traffic for you. You know, they can do word of mouth with their network to get people to buy from you. They can help promote you if they’re good online or good in the local community, or have, have an, an email list that they can, they can send out messages about your product or service that they can do. So, your community, isn’t just your, your consumers. It’s a lot broader than that. So, start looking at all those different personas of those people that you can have that would be interested. But the key is, and this is what most people forget is it’s not about what you want, it’s about what they want. And when you can switch that around and take that 180 degree, turn, and start saying, this is what they want. I know this because I talk to them, I understand them.

Tim McDonald


I listen to them. Yep. And, and then you start saying, what do we have that we can give them that fits what they want. And you start enabling people to do that. Because at the core essence of every human being, it’s a sense of belonging that we all want. And most businesses always think it’s a transactional thing. It has nothing to do with being transactional. It must do very much with being emotional, that sense of belonging that I belong to something I am part of this company. I am part of this organization. I know other people in this that, that you know, are like me, that I don’t have to feel alone out there. And that’s at the core of everything. That’s what you want to create. That sense of belonging for people.

Nathaniel Schooler


Nice. I think we’re going to end on that because that is, that is the fundamental point. There’s nothing more to add really. Is there,

Tim McDonald


Well, imagine your story, right. That you were sharing of the video you watched and imagine if, if that girl, instead of just thinking that it was all about how many likes and how many followers she had started feeling a true sense of belonging with other people that were around her, that she could truly be enjoying those things with. And regardless of how many people were liking it and engaging with her.

Nathaniel Schooler


Yeah. It’s a tough one. But I think, I think we should come back to this when you’ve got more time and I’m not so tired. I’ve just done. I just did this other interview. It’s very tiring. It’s amazing when the brain really works that hard. Yep. You know, it’s incredible, but you’ve shared so much value, Tim. I that’s why I just thought it’s, it’s just such a great idea to do an interview with you and go through all of these amazing pieces of advice really. And I will give it some thought as to what I’m doing, whether I to try and build a community around here. But thing is, I’m more, I’m more focused on global. Yeah. Because you know, my, my goals are to work globally. Yeah. So, but I quite like the buzz of, of local.

Nathaniel Schooler


I enjoy the local buzz. Yeah. But the thing is sometimes they’re not ready for you. Right. So, and it all depends on what you’re trying to help them with. Yeah. If anything it’s, if anything at all, cause they may not be the right customers, I suppose it’s like a bit like putting your foot in a, in a, in a, and I see water and saying, mm it’s a bit cold right now. Let’s, let’s wait a little while till it warms up, you know, so, but, but we’ll get there and thanks ever so much. So you’ve, you’ve got a website, right?

Tim McDonald


Yeah. I don’t do too much on it lately, but I do. I’m mostly online though. You know, just about anywhere, Twitter Facebook, LinkedIn

Nathaniel Schooler


I’ll if people want to speak to you, they can contact me and I’ll, and I’ll you up with Tim.

Tim McDonald



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