Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
A coach knows the effort that goes into building and nurturing an online community. The internet is like an ocean with so much information. In the age of information abundance, only a few coaches and trainers manage to build their own island — or expertise domain — and nurture their tribe of learners into growing.
Remember, your relationship with your customer doesn’t end with the sale. It starts at the point of sale. Community building is essential to differentiate a digital business from usual no-strings-attached transactional companies. Through communities, your customers keep returning for more and become more than just buyers of your products or services.
Many online communities gain immensely from the coaches or moderators supporting the tribe through multi-channel touchpoints such as webinars, e-books, masterclasses, a wealth of informative videos on platforms like YouTube, podcasts, online meetups, digital events and one-on-ones — each adding value in its unique way. Online communities may also use the power of interpersonal communication between members to facilitate tribe-building and engagement.
While it is true that successfully built digital communities have deep connections with no geographic boundaries and no extra infrastructure cost, frequent offline touchpoints for members can help enhance the quality of these connections and help meet group objectives — while exhibiting the culture and vibrancy in a different setting altogether.
Moreover, they can reinforce the group’s mission and build on the value derived by the community as a whole. Taking things to the offline realm through meet-ups, conferences or similar interactive event formats is a great approach to promote meaningful interactions and provide your group’s members opportunities to socialize and strengthen their bond.
While members may already be engaging in knowledge sharing virtually, for online communities, putting a face to a name can help in relationship building. Meeting in person strengthens the relationship because of a shared experience.
Even if you may find individuals online who share your interests and talk about anything for hours, there is a certain magic to meeting someone in person. We frequently forget that we communicate with a complete human being with numerous systems and characteristics. For the young and curious, or those looking to break into a space, an offline event can be an excellent space for vicariously learning from the more experienced. People learn from each other’s experiences. Not just that, it could be possible to pick the brains of a trainer or leader you have admired.
Build excitement among the group
Online communities are usually hosted on a platform where they can thrive, learn and inspire each other. Offline events can take it one notch higher and create a ritual that community members look forward to, especially if the event occurs at regular intervals — monthly, quarterly or even yearly. It also allows hosting events that are best conducted in person: Awards, networking lunches, conferences and summits, or hackathons.
Offline events give everyone a chance
All fingers are not equal. A community member could be an excellent achiever checking all the right boxes. Yet, their virtual engagements could be limited due to various reasons — such as lack of time, especially if it’s a high-impact community. Offline events can block time for meaningful engagement, where there could be a willingness to speak or share that could go up significantly. This is more likely to happen if the event is designed in such a way. What’s more, it could break the ice for the newer members of the community and give them a chance to integrate.
Encourage diverse and in-depth interactions
Along with boosting the sense of belonging, offline meetups can facilitate interactions that might not have occurred naturally in virtual spaces. This can lead to better networking and collaborative opportunities. At the same time, an offline event provides a chance to conduct or plan breakaway meetings to explore fresh opportunities. For many businesses, this could lead to discoverability, visibility and coming across a whole new customer base or clientele.
Gets word out
An excellent way to think your target market into your community is through content. If it is a private event meant exclusively for community members, there are still more eyeballs that your event could be grabbing, simply during the end-to-end process from conceptualizing to hosting an event. It also gives a good chance to get lots of content. Think, photographs, testimonials, after movies, live streams and clips for social media.
If you ask for feedback, you’ll get it from your online community, but seeing what an offline community develop is priceless. You will get a personal look at what makes people tick and why they love the community you are creating. Identify the true drivers of demand for our business and what truly connects individuals.
Increased online involvement
Users will become even more devoted and loyal to your brand and the others in your community if they connect with you offline. Unquestionably, positive human interaction can improve our lives and make us happier. Members will want to interact with you and the other people they have met more if you provide them with a positive offline experience. Meeting offline helps people progress through the commitment curve so you may make bolder asks in the future and increase their level of engagement.
It’s probably time to implement some offline events if you want to drive engagement, especially among new joiners. For the mentors and coaches, offline events make them more accessible, with members forming positive perceptions and linking them back to the same mentor.