Are You Building a List or a Community?

By Michele Pariza Wacek (Michele PW)

If you’ve been knocking around this crazy Internet world for any length of time, you’ve probably run into this whole notion of “list building.”
The money is in your list. Your biz success is in your list. How big is your list? What are you doing to build your list? And so on.
Now there’s no question there’s some truth in that. Having a list of people who have provided you with their contact info (typically an email address) and have given you permission to reach out to them on a regular basis, is not only very powerful but also essential to having a profitable, sustainable business.
The problem I have is not with the idea of list building (because I think the idea is a crucial part of having a successful business) but what we call it. A list.
When you have a list of something — a list of names, a list of objects, etc. — it’s easy to lose sight of the fact what you actually have is something very precious. These are living, breathing people who have given you permission to contact them so you can tell them about your products and services.
People. Not walking wallets. Not potential opt ins for an affiliate contest you’re trying to win.
And, even more than that, people who have trusted you with their contact information.
So when you violate that trust by treating them as simply a list of emails, doesn’t it make sense that they would start to ignore your emails? That they would not click or buy? That they would unsubscribe?
Now, what if you instead think of that list of emails as a community? Because that IS what you have — a community of people who have chosen to give you permission to contact them so they can learn from you.
Isn’t that a more powerful way to view your list and your list-building efforts? That you are instead building a community?
And if every time you write an email you view it reaching out and connecting with your community, do you think you would not only be more engaging but also be more likely to share valuable information with your community?
And if you did that enough, do you think your community would be more likely to open and read your emails?
Something to ponder this week.