We recommend building up a group of 100 to 150 insiders in the community.
These are influencers that can make things happen. When you want something to happen, you begin with this group. You solicit their advice and ideas then work with them to start doing it.
Yet building relationships is difficult. It’s a time consuming process. You can’t easily remember all the details of all the interactions you’ve had with any individual.
First, schedule time in your week to do this. Proactively initiate discussions with members of influence, ask them for their opinions on various issues. Gradually increase your levels of self-disclosure with that member and towards a stronger relationship phase.
Second, treat this as a sales process. This sounds cynical, but it helps. You begin with a lead, you then go through the stages of the relationship development process until you have a member as an active insider.
This means you need to track your progress with each person. You can’t remember all the details of every interaction you’ve had. You can also extend this across many other areas of the community. For example, dealing with complaints, encouraging content creators, keeping notes on various members of interest.
It might seem a little cynical, but a CRM system (we like Salesforce) can really help with the community building process.