Have you ever heard the phrase, “No man is an island”?
It’s actually very old — it’s from a poem written in the 17th century. I’m sure the poet wasn’t thinking about digital agencies at the time (after all, WordPress wasn’t really a “thing” 400 years ago) but he certainly could have been talking about them!
After all, the poem talks about how everybody is important in making something special, and how nobody can achieve greatness without the help of their community. And today, that includes digital communities.
We here at GoWP are huge fans of developing supportive communities. We believe that it is an essential part of digital agency development, no matter what the size.
But wait — what exactly is a digital community?
A digital community is a collection of freelancers and agencies that regularly get together to discuss all things virtual. These discussions include topics such as:
- Software updates.
- New business practices.
- Changing industry regulations.
- Problem-solving techniques.
- And so much more!
There are many industry-specific communities, such as GitHub and Stack Overflow, but some would consider them to be too objective-based and less human-centric. That’s where the digital agency community comes in.
In a community, people are working together to build friendships and partnerships and to convey camaraderie through the screen, all the while sharing valuable resources, insight, and information.
While others might choose to view these agencies as competitors, agencies in a supportive digital community see the benefits of collaboration. They are celebrating others’ successes.
They also embrace what humans do best: participating. Ashley Smith of OpenView Partners put it best:
It’s human nature. People like being involved. They like having influence. They want to be heard and they want to contribute.
With a digital community, agency owners and freelancers alike make a difference in the world at large. At the same time, they’re also able to benefit from the experience.
Here’s why we think it’s important to be a part of a supportive digital community.
You’re getting advice from someone “who’s been there”.
Whether you’ve been in the agency game for a long time or are expanding your offerings as we speak, you’re probably going to encounter a situation where you are completely lost (that’s the beauty of life, right?)
With access to the hundreds, maybe thousands, of brilliant minds and the diverse set of experiences that a supportive online community provides, you’re always equipped with friendly faces and great solutions from across the globe.
You’re also getting recommendations for products and services.
Curious about a new plugin, or having difficulties adapting certain features to your existing websites? Have you seen a product that looks too good to be true, but on the off chance that it’s not, you’re unwilling to put money down?
A supportive community is a great place to find honest evaluations and experiences before you make a long-term investment or switch over to a new system and regret it.
You’re upping your networking game.
“Think of it this way. People like buying things from people they know. Likewise, people like helping people! If you’re doing a good job and good work, why not make it known to people who can help you out.”
We couldn’t agree more.
Communities are an excellent way to build business relationships and expand your network. Other agencies are receiving projects out of their specialties and time constraints. When a project comes up that’s in your wheelhouse, you want to be remembered by the people who received it, so that they can pass it on.
You’re receiving (and giving!) encouragement and emotional support – even from behind the screen.
Mental and social health within an agency are extremely important, especially given the way some industries have become much more remote and isolated over the past two years.
As an agency owner, you have a responsibility to check up on your team members — but who’s checking up on you?
Communities can be an excellent place to vent and receive encouragement during difficult times. They can also be a great place to share resources for bringing positive change and emotional empowerment to your agency.
What it all boils down to is leaning on others to become even stronger. A good, solid, and supportive community of like-minded industry professionals provide all of the tools to lift each other up.
How do I know if I’m in a good, supportive community?
While we are major proponents of joining and participating in a community for all of the reasons listed above, we realize that not all communities (and their members) are created equal.
Make sure to keep an eye out for these “green flags” — and if you’re not seeing these, you might want to reassess your membership.
Community members are participative and friendly.
This is a must! You wouldn’t stay at a party where the hosts and guests are unfriendly and disengaged — try to find a lively community of people enthusiastic about similar goals and with complementary interests.
People are giving you advice when you ask for it—NOT leaving you hanging out to dry.
According to Mark S. Birch of Dev.Biz.Ops, the essential ingredient for creating a successful community is the development of a “trust layer”, which, as he says, “requires encouraging the free flow of information and incentives for positive contributions towards collaboration.”
In layman’s terms, this means that you’ve got to give and receive in equal parts in order to be able to trust each other and develop a successful community.
If you find yourself in a digital community situation without reciprocity and trust, run, do not walk, to the nearest exit. Look for an environment that is all about people ready to care and help others.
The community is hosting engaging events that get YOU fired up about contributing.
One of the most exciting things about a community is the many opportunities to interact and network with your fellow community members. The events range from host to host, so look for the community that offers the most of what benefits and excites you.
While it may take a few tries to find the community that fits you best, your gains from the experience will no doubt allow you to take your agency to the next level, and you’re sure to learn something in the meantime.
Last but not least, remember this:
Part of the magic of a community is what you’re putting into it as well, so make sure that you’re contributing equally and enthusiastically to what’s going on!
For more ideas, support and encouragement from our fantastic Digital Agency Owners community, head on over to Facebook and sign up today.
Looking for ways to best take advantage of your experience in our community? Check out this article written back in the spring of 2020. You won’t believe how much the Digital Agency Owners Community has grown since then!