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Not many realise the power of communities in building and growing a business, but the panels on this at Breaking Barriers 2019 in all 4 cities – Bangalore, Mumbai, Gurugram, and Hyderabad, made this feel intuitive.
In the past 4 years, so many aspiring entrepreneurs have attended the flagship event by Women’s Web, Breaking Barriers. These aspiring entrepreneurs have made valuable connections here that helped them in their careers. Breaking Barriers 2019 was no less of an opportunity to connect, network, and become changemakers.
Breaking Barriers 2019 was held in association with Dell Small Businesses, covering the cities of Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad and Gurugram, kickstarted in the month of April with the theme ‘Leading change as women in business’.
The events explored various areas like changes in your industry and ecosystem, change that new digital interventions bring in business, change that community building can bring, change that comes your way when you return to work after a break.
So here are 10 learnings that attendees of Breaking Barriers 2019 took away with them on the role of community in building businesses.
Identifying your community and staying true to them is what we learnt in the Mumbai session of Breaking Barriers this year.
Neha Agarwal, Community Manager, Quora India, while talking about knowing your community stressed upon how important it is to “identify pain points of customers and staying true to your mission.” She shed light on the importance of knowing the needs of your community, that helps in establishing better communication for your products. Hence, the community is your best and biggest brand ambassador.
Founder of Bare Necessities, Sahar Mansoor, shared her experience about taking inputs from communities and growing a business.
In the Bangalore chapter of Breaking Barriers the ‘zero wastage’ girl Sahar Mansoor mentioned that the first 10 products that their company made were from the customer inputs. She explained that customer inputs from the community help a lot in growing your vision. “Our first employee was a customer. Inputs from the community that believes in you can carry your vision ahead.” – Sahar Mansoor, Bare Necessities.
We agree to that fact that one cannot do all promotions and ‘get to know’ your community just all on your own. You need people who believe in your idea, you need your champions.
In the Mumbai session Vijaya Pastala, CEO and Founder, Under the Mango Tree, talked about identifying champions. She mentioned the importance of identifying people who believe in your idea, forming a community with them, and making them the ambassadors of your product.
“Catch a believer in your idea and make them your champion. Your ambassadors.” – Vijaya Pastala
Asha Choudhary, the Founder & Chief Community Officer, Kids Book Café, and Co-founder, TheRodinhoods at the Gurugram chapter said, “Building communities is not a hobby, it is more than a full-time job.” Building communities, keeping them engaged and relevant, making them inclusive and purposeful is something that entrepreneurs should never downgrade, and should keep on doing.
In the Hyderabad chapter of Breaking Barriers 2019 Dr Vijaya Krishnan, Founder of The Sanctum, Healthy Mother Natural Birthing Center, talked about building communities through social media.
Dr Krishnan spoke about choosing the correct words on social media to increase your connection with your consumers. “Be mindful of the words that you choose to communicate, especially on social media. Ask people questions so that they can think for themselves.” She also spoke about making connections online, and building communities to sell smart.
In this online world, we all rely a lot on social media. As much as online events help in building community, offline events too also play a very important role.
Asha Choudhary, the Founder & Chief Community Officer, Kids Book Café, gave us this very important tip in the Gurugram session. She mentioned that offline events are very helpful. They help you to connect with the community that you form online, in a more personal manner.
“Offline events are very important because you are able to connect with people who you are connected with online. I have seen the magic happen” – Asha Choudhary.
Customers that come together as a community not only help the business grow, but also work towards a greater social cause. A community not just has your paying customers; it’s a network of people who know each other’s needs and work together.
Sandhya Chandrasekharayya, co-founder of India Hikes in the Bangalore session, gave us this insightful learning. She also mentioned that such a network and bonding with your community can only be achieved when you make it a habit of meeting your community, talking to them, and getting to know them to broaden your mission.
“We have made it a point to meet our trekkers. What they want to do. Talk about what our vision is. Community helps us achieve things like keeping litter out of trekking routes. Hence our community helps us keep our hiking trails clean by picking up litter, and it’s because they look at it as a community activity, not as paying customers of India Hikes.” – Sandhya Chandrasekharayya co-founder of India Hikes
“Giving back is a big part of getting back. A community is like a family,” Praveen Dorna, Co-founder of StartUp Byte talked about this. He mentioned the importance of building a give and take relationship with the community. In the Hyderabad session of Breaking Barriers, he mentioned that it’s very important to respond to the inputs from community. It increases communication and gives them what they want rather than what you think they want.
Neela Kaushik, Community Expert, Gurgaon Moms in the Gurugram session gave an important lesson on the art of listening. She mentioned that if you want to know what your community members want then you need to listen to their needs.
“Listening is the most important part to understanding who your members are” – Neela Kaushik, Community Expert, Gurgaon Moms
Debleena Majumdar, Co-founder, Kahaniyaah and Writer in the Bangalore session mentioned the importance of not leaving any opportunity to build a community. Online as well as offline platforms help in forming community and increasing interaction.
“For building community use LinkedIn and twitter plus work with already existing networks like colleges, universities are very useful.” – Debleena Majumdar, Co-founder, Kahaniyaah and Writer
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