Communities of Attraction (Issue 573)

In which we are reminded that developing communities is critical to attracting new clients.

Commencement Day morning could not have been more beautiful.  Rain the previous day had cleared much of the pollen from the air and trees. The day broke a little cool, skies clear, with a delicate,  freshening breeze.

Under a canopy of mature elm, oak, and maple trees bearing school flags, resplendent crimson,  early seat-seekers scurried through campus cast-iron gates at their 6:45 am opening;  by mid-morning as the last graduating students marched to seats and the first rich chords lifted from the University band, we were 32,000 there to cheer and witness their passage into a community of graduates some 300,000 strong world-wide.

By the time the local county Sheriff, by tradition, bellowed “I declare this meeting adjourned,”  I wanted to march, too, to complete a degree and earn my place in that community.   I even thought…. “I would like to give more money to help sustain this.”  (Smelling salts were quickly applied.)

As  I’ve talked to friends about their experiences of the ceremony in previous years, many of them felt this same strong surge of attraction: “I want to march on Commencement morning in this place, I want to be part of this community.”

What this college has mastered in community building and attraction over centuries, we sales people must learn now: Increasingly, our work takes place in the context of communities of interest, virtual and real, and our work is to build our own communities and attract clients and prospects  to us rather than to launch ourselves indiscriminately toward lists of them, sales pitches at the ready.

When we choose our affiliations – colleges, places to live, recreation activities, on-line groups, industry associations, professional groups  – we choose also communities.  Through our individual contributions to those communities – our expertise and energy freely given, we open conversations, build trust,  and attract people who become clients or who introduce us to others who may become clients.

There is no one right way to do this.  Just as my son’s college invented a brand and value proposition to attract students, faculty, and donations, we must invent our own brands and value propositions for attraction and endorsements.  There are two elements. There’s  a “giving” brand – how we’re known to people in our communities,  how we gain their awareness, respect, and trust in the context of those communities. And there’s a “receiving” brand – what we’re known for professionally.

We want to head toward something like this:  Suppose one of the people in our communities hears another community member express a need for business advice.  She responds: “You should talk to Pat Martin.  We’ve worked together on the river clean up project for several  years.  I really respect her, and  she’s the person you need to see if you want financial counsel about your business – I heard her speak at a meeting a while back, she was great!”

The BEST news is:  We get to choose and develop both brands of attraction in our communities.

For additional perspective on this topic (Nick at his eye bulging best!):!prettyPhoto/0/


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