How To Make A Ten Tiered Cake Where Everyone Is Responsible
Making people feel part of something, creates a better experience.
This article is all about when you create collective responsibility.
I really don’t want to make this sound as though I am suggesting something I have read from a textbook. I’ll always share with you the proof. It might sound a bit high brow when using the word ‘collective responsibility’ but in my definition this is when people feel part of something and contribute in their own way.
When you support a community, they can support you back.
You have to make that next step beyond a retweet or getting excited about a post comment. This is about making that next step up, so everyone can enjoy a fuller experience.
This is relevant if you are starting a side project that relates to your main business. This could be anything from a podcast; consulting arm to the business; new blog; events: video series; or a new product. A side project may not show short term financial reward, but the longer term benefits can become something that you know you started and grew. Opportunities open when you endeavour to step forward and chances of success are even more when it aligns to your business.
Things genuinely work better when others see it worthwhile to provide input.
Sharing With You What I Mean
I send the You Are The Media weekly email every Thursday morning.
There is a template in place and what I use it every week. However, I wasn’t aware that with a bit of tinkering over the past month, the mobile version of the weekly email was not as good as it should be. Notably the text was becoming too small and not the best device to read when it is probably someones first point of contact on their phone at 7am on a Thursday morning.
A message from Stewart Gilbert, from LiveWorkVisit said, “I enjoy your emails, they give me something to think about. I did however drop-out opening them because I absorb them through my mobile and found them hard to read.”
If I hadn’t read that message, I would have done nothing about it. Hands up, the mobile version had become hard to read. To a new subscriber, their first experience with the Thursday email is a small font size. The chances of them coming back to opening a further week would be less week by week (some articles can be in excess of 2,000 words).
The Thursday email for this week, has been addressed, it reads much better and what I did was send a test to Stewart, just to make sure all ok and that we both had the best intentions (to make an email easy to read).
Lesson learnt – people make side projects better, not you
The Thursday 29th You Are The Media Lunch Club will be the last Lunch Club where Oli Perron from Lunchd will be there for the whole session.
Oli has been a massive part of this project since the first event in May 2016, where he was the first guest (I was intrigued with his vlog he was investing time and effort in).
Since January 2017 Oli has provided the lunch for every event (even the Christmas awards evening) and the March Lunch Club sees his final bow, for now. Oli is going to be upping his productivity ante by Lunchd working with Deliveroo, this effective turns what Oli does into a full time commitment, which is fantastic.
Everyone knows Oli, he hands the food out, participates and we have all created a sharing environment. Food is a very important part of this. Oli has been a huge part of this and as he says, “After nearly 1,000 lunches for the group, catching up with people on a regular basis, their projects is something that I look forward to, each time. When you stop worrying about networking and just get involved, more contacts and additional work seem to just materialise.”
“I underestimated how helping something grow that wasn’t my own business could be rewarding, and watching new people find other people in this lovely part of the world where we’ve chosen to live and work.”
Lesson learnt – People contributing makes things better.
Taking This To Your Side
You can’t do everything in isolation.
If you are prepared to let other people contribute, add, object, input and advise, the output becomes better for everyone. For instance, the weekly email is improved based on someone’s own experience and the food for Lunch Club has always been more than opening a tray of sandwiches. It is given to people by the hands who made it.
This is why it is important to get other people involved who may not directly be involved with your business but make what you communicate stronger.
It is not just you in the driving seat.
If everything you distributed was just down to you, it can be a pretty lonely place to live. When I first started blogging in 2012, it was me talking to a reflection, no one got involved. When you encourage people to step forward with you, it make everything a far more fulfilling experience. For instance, there are people who are part of the You Are The Media community that have been part of the You Are The Media Podcast. Their involvement has improved the podcast. You have to find a way for others to want to be a part of what you are doing.
Create a sense of involvement for everyone.
I realise that the more people are encouraged to be a part of something (but you’re not begging others), the more people want to be a part of what you create. For instance, during the lunchtime events, there are now more members from the community to share their own side projects and what they are up to. This gives them to opportunity to relate with a wider audience and more importantly, create a sense of kinship (there are people doing the same thing).
Share a sense of reward when it works.
These are the moments when successes are shared, not bottled up for your own self gratification ie. more attendees, more article views, higher email click rates, don’t mean an awful lot when you look at them in seclusion. This is when people are actively rewarded for being a part of something. This can be as simple as a direct email with a thank you, through to creating an awards evening where there is a time to kick back and enjoy the effort of being part of something.
You give a piece to others, but the buck always stops with you.
This isn’t a case of delegating responsibility, so you can kick back but keeping things on the track that it was always meant to head in. For instance, if the majority of articles from You Are The Media were guest posts it would start to lose its voice. This is what happened in 2014 when I started posting more guest posts during a month. Things started to look disjointed in the failed approach by thinking that more articles on my site were seen as more credible. In fact it made it weaker. You always have to be the person at the front directing, not turning what you create into a free for all.
It all becomes part of a wider lens.
When you start small, you garnish interaction, as you grow you encourage participation. What starts as an email subscriber, can become someone else’s contribution to a book. What starts as a low key event, can become other people sharing how they benefit within their own business circles. By building a solid base you can start adding one tier on top of the other. For instance, your website can be a solid base where everything is centred within, over time you start to add solid elements that compliment the cake. It may look smaller, but it still tastes and looks the same.
Promote a culture that encourages participation.
People have to be actively encouraged to join in, if they like what they see then trust becomes something of empowerment. When others contribute, things aren’t isolating. I realise you can’t cheerlead and shout, this is risky where others become unengaged. By participation, I mean joining in and being responsible to. For instance, if you ask for a contribution for an article you are creating and you need it back within 24 hours, then if there is silence, then that person isn’t probably ready yet.
You need to give others a place at your table. The diversity of the community you build strengthens when others want to be a part of it. When people want to communicate, rather than hold back, the whole experience becomes one where everyone takes something. You can’t make a shortcut for the quickest return.
Lets Round Up
I like this proverb, “It takes a village to raise a child.” From a B2B angle, we can all take some form of shared responsibility with a project that means something to us.
When something becomes communal, it moves beyond the organiser. We can genuinely create an extended B2B family. As Oli (from Lunchd) said, “I’ve met at least 20 people I’d now call friends. If you have a product to sell, providing it’s good at some stage it can only lead to business, it’s just a by product of proper local community participation. A great platform for any local business, not what what stage you’re at.”
This is not about working to the same shared goals, but creating outlets that focus on communication, shared ideas and shared responsibility.
If you are about to make that step with a venture that is separate, but connects to your main business the impact you can have on others and their willingness to support is essential to make the step from project to all round commitment.