The world we live in and do business in is changing – fast.  That means two things; first, our customers have changed, and second, we must change to keep up with them.  While business fundamentals like systematizing, getting organized and measuring key indicators remain constant, just about everything else is in flux.

What does this mean for you?  Even compared to just 10 years ago, the digital age has forced a transition to much more informational vs. ideological thinking.  Now more than ever price is commoditized and value de-emphasized.  Prospects come into your world armed with square footage or unit pricing that rarely matches the value you deliver, leaving a huge gulf to bridge on the way to a sale.

But most of you are likely not in the commodities business (think selling widgets vs custom homes and remodeling). Therefore you cannot compete on price and survive.  So how can you adapt – or better yet, how must you adapt to stay in business and thrive?  The answer lies in community.  If today’s world is informational, it is also much more relational!

Today’s community at large is the internet.  And most (if not all) of your prospects already belong to it.  Mini-communities include Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Houzz.  To adapt, your business, regardless of size, must behave like a mini-community or tribe within the community at large.  You must be visible and participating in a way that allows prospective customers to find you and become interested enough to want to know more.  In other words, for a prospect to trust you enough to reach out to you, you must first be perceived as a community member.

In his book “Exponential Organizations” Salim Ismail notes that “ Today …the internet is producing trait-basedSmiling Group of Professionals --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis communities that share intent, belief, resources, preferences, needs, risks and other characteristics, none of which depend on physical proximity.”  Translated; today’s virtual communities consist of people with shared values who trust one another, even without traditional personal contact.  Taken further, if you want to attract the right prospects into your community, you must connect with the community at large via shared values.

Your story and your purpose must be crystal clear and compelling; even to the point of being perceived as tribal.  Tribal does not mean adversarial in this case.  It means more inviting and set apart from the community’s status-quo.  Your value statement should resonate with a select group within the community at large and draw them to you.  You must learn how to connect.

The building industry (among many others) today is primarily a service industry.  The ability to design and build great homes and projects is assumed.  What will set you apart and enable you to deliver real value while earning consistently great profit is the ability to nurture trusting relationships throughout the entire design, sales and production process.  But none of that can happen in today’s world if you cannot connect.  No value or service can be delivered without trust.

In our fathers’ world trust and value were largely assumed, and transactions were a logical next step.  But this is not your father’s world.  It’s fast, and requires a community of trusting relationships for organizations to connect and succeed.  Your prospects more than ever want to know you are trustworthy.  And once they do, then, and only then will they willingly join your community.

Question: Have you and your organization taken the necessary steps to build community and if so, what does it look like?  What has worked or not worked for you?  I would love to hear your thoughts.

Legacy Business Leaders: striving to build your legacy of success, significance and prosperity!