How being active in a global community empowers your brand by Valerie Forgeard

Automatic Summary

The Power of Community for Building a Brand: A Session with Valerie


Welcome to our blog post where we dive into the enlightening session led by Valerie, a seasoned community builder and brand consultant based in the UK. In her session, she dug deep into the intersection of community building and brand development, highlighting the often underestimated power of being part of a productive community. Let's dissect the key findings together.

Community and Brand Building: Two Sides of the Same Coin

Have you ever thought about the connection between community involvement and brand building? As Valerie outlined, they go hand in hand! A community is about people and connection. Engaging in a community presents opportunities for brand development, strengthening connections, and raising awareness. In essence, it becomes a platform where your brand or business can interact with potential customers and stakeholders on a more personal level, fostering meaningful relationships.

The Multiple Benefits of Community

In her talk, our expert broke down the multiple layers of advantages that come with being an active part of a community:

  • Learning: You can learn a range of skills or niches from marketing to technology.
  • Networking: You get opportunities to connect with various interested individuals.
  • Making a difference: Every community has a purpose, and being involved offers a chance to contribute positively to that mission.

She concluded this section by stating, "communities really are all about connecting, learning, giving."

Understanding Community Members: Active vs Passive

For a deeper connection with your community and reaping more benefits, Valerie advises understanding the two types of community members: active and passive. Active members are the ones who participate in all activities while passive members prefer to observe. Both have unique values and can contribute significantly to your business or brand.

Community Tips for Success

During the session, Valerie highlighted some crucial elements that could help you make the most out of your community membership:

  • Always check the community's mission, vision, and values before joining.
  • Explore how to get involved in the community.
  • Try to balance both social connection and professional networking.

Avoiding Common Community Mistakes

She also underscored some behaviors to avoid when partaking in a community environment, including

  • Not reading the vision, mission, or values of the community carefully.
  • Constant self-publicity, which may feel invasive to others.
  • Creating competition with other community members that might cause unnecessary strife.

The session ended with an interactive Q&A session where attendees asked their burning questions. To delve deeper into topics related to communities, visit [insert links here], where you can access Valerie’s articles on community building.


Community involvement can be a gold mine for resources and connections when leveraged correctly. As Valerie expertly explained, building a brand is not solely about marketing or selling a product; it's also about making genuine connections with people who share a common interest. By participating in a community, you're given the opportunity to engage with a diverse range of individuals, learn valuable skills, contribute to a shared vision, and ultimately, build up your brand organically.

Video Transcription

OK. All right. Let's start. I can see your comments. So if you have any questions during the session, feel free to ask. And if I can answer, I'll answer straight away. Otherwise I will answer at the end of the session.Um So I'm Valerie, I'm from uh France and I live in the UK and I've been part of many communities. I've actually built a community myself and I also have a, a brand consultancy. And it's quite funny because when I meet people and they ask what, what do you do? Um So the first thing is when I say uh I have a branding consultancy, people are like, oh God, I've got to build my brand and it feels like a old weight on their shoulder. And when I say I have a second activity, which is that I'm leading a community. Um People are like, oh wow. Uh And, and, and it's funny because people have a very different reaction when it comes to building a brand and when it comes to a community, because community is about people, it's about connection and it's about people like to see people.

Uh Nobody likes to feel think, oh God, I've got to do my marketing. I've got to build my brand story. Uh It, it feels like a lot of work, but joining a community feels like an easy thing. But when you join a community, there's a lot of opportunities on building a brand and many people are not connecting the two. even if they are very connected because when you build a brand, you need people, you need connections and you need to raise a awareness. And if you don't have those connections, then it's very hard to raise awareness on, on anything. Whether it's your brand, whether it's you as a personal brand, whether it's about your business, it's very important uh to have the connections. And remember there's only six degrees of separation between uh people. So whoever you're meeting, for example, at the Women Tech right now, you're meeting a lot of people and whoever you're meeting have over these people have other connections which could be very useful to you.

Um And there's many people who tend to miss those opportunities because they're just going for one specific purpose. Um Although community has many advantages in a community, you can learn, you can learn. So you can learn from, uh for example, at the Women Tech, you can learn from technology to how to make connections uh or how to do your marketing. There's a lot of different areas in which you can learn, you can even find coaching Um And you can also network and connect uh as you will have seen on hoping there's a lot of opportunities to make connections with all sorts of people. Um And you can also find help and help. If you have skills, you can give a lot. Um And it's an opportunity to make a difference because every community has a purpose. So for example, the community I've been building is completely disconnected with technology. Um However, it does bring sometimes people who are connected with technology uh because we are promoting social issues and humanitarian issues for arts and music. But in the art world, you will have people who are connected with NFTS, for example, who will be using various technologies.

So, so there's a lot of communities out there where you have the opportunity to meet people who can also connect you with the right people. And, and many people think I'm going to join one community because this is what I need. But very often we don't think of all the areas and how many people we can connect with through the one or two people we connect with in one community. So, so if if you're interested in anything, don't hesitate to join communities because you just never know. I mean, I've made connections, for example, in chess clubs, you know, which has nothing to do with any of my activities. And you'd be amazed of, of the people you can connect with sometimes and and that's why communities can be very useful in terms of building a brand. Um Because when you go to a community, you're not, you're not going as trying to sell something. You're just going because people will connect with you on the topic where you have a common interest, which makes it a lot easier to approach people than when you go, for example, to a salon where people know that everybody is trying to connect for professional reasons. And, and that's sometimes where you're gonna see people running away from you because they're gonna think, oh God, you're gonna try to sell me something.

But in a, in a community with a common interest, for example, at the women tech, you're going to have uh the woman intake uh interest. So that's a topic you can talk about. You don't have to talk about um your profession. If you have a good connection with a person, they will connect with you. They will take interest in your, in your uh activity and, and communities really are all about connecting about learning about giving and, and you could also go to a community for which has something to do with a specific social issue. And you may never talk about your professional activity. But by having a common interest about this social issue, this specific social issue, for example, um you might find out that you're going to make friends around that community and, and you might also find out that these new friends have the right connections for you. So there's many people who, who don't see the value of communities because they just think, oh it's, it's just a gathering but it, it's not just a gathering, think of all the opportunities you can find by just connecting with people.

Um So in a community, there are two types of people. You've got the passive people and the the passive types of members and the active types of members. So the passive ones will be the ones um who are kind of invisible, not invisible, but who are quiet, who, who don't really talk about themselves and don't neglect uh the passive members because sometimes they are there as an observer. But observers could be the one who will offer you a job. They could be the one who will bring your clients or be your future clients. They will be usually the people who will ask questions but don't answer much. Um However, they could have a bigger, a bigger role than, than what you may think and then you have the active members. So they're the ones who tend to, to uh participate to all the activities. Um So for example, the women take, they will be global ambassadors. Uh They will apply probably for being a community partner. They will try to be speakers, they, they will, they will um connect with as many activities as possible. Um So it's very important to recognize the both types uh and start to have an idea of why they're here and, and what they're looking for. So, so before we go further, I have a question for you. Um How many communities are you part of? And, and why?

So you can write in the chat box? Hi, Ruchika. Thanks for your message. So here we go, someone who is willing to connect with other members. So making connection is, is um is one of the first thing people will do when they join the community. And there's various ways of of making connection. You can either get people attracted to you because of what you do. Or you can also put something, for example, in a comment box and ask a question with which will engage a lot, a lot more people uh to, to join the conversation. Um There's also other things that, that you can do. Uh But first when you join a community, the first thing that you should do is definitely check the mission, vision and values. Um in my community. For example, there's a lot of people I would say probably uh 20% of people who have not read the vision mission or values. Um And, and this is a loss when you do that. You don't do it because you may miss out on something. Uh You may also miss out on being noticed uh if you understand really well, the vision mission and the values of the community that can take you a very long way.

Um Because if you participate in encouraging the mission and vision, uh and encouraging the values, someone will certainly notice you um in your um participation and you can also check how to get involved. Uh So there are sometimes in some communities, there are some surprising involvement, you could get that you wouldn't even think about that can also relate to your activities. So for example, I've joined some communities where uh I've been offered to, to coach. But if I didn't see the these opportunities, I would have never been able to, to do so. And this coaching at the beginning of my business have given me the opportunity to get reviews. So, reviews that I couldn't have when I just started my business uh because I, when you just get started, you, you don't have uh the first clients. So so communities can be really useful. They can also help people to find a job for example. And, and when you join events, it's been hard during COVID and sorry, I'm just reading the comment. Yes, that many people don't, don't connect um with, thank you, Alicia for your comment. Um Many, many people hesitate to connect, but you have to remember when you're in a community, you're dealing with people as if you go outside in a cafe. The only difference is you're, you're dealing with different cultures.

Uh But it's when, when it's a global community the great thing is it's very rich, you can learn so much. And if you're someone who feel introvert, then you come back to the passive um type of members that I was mentioning about earlier on. And it doesn't matter because um you can, you can, you can be the person who ask questions. People like to be asked questions, they don't always like someone who talks at them. So if you're introvert, you can just ask questions. You don't have to be, especially the, the person will be extrovert and talk at people. You don't have to, you can just connect with people by just asking questions of things that you're interested in when it comes to them. And people will love that they will definitely connect with this and, and be happy to answer and, and this is all a way to make connections. You, you don't have to force things. The, the main thing is really to be yourself. Um And, and you can find opportunities of networking like this and also collaboration. Like sometimes I've met people who were um very shy in, in terms of trying to connect with others. Um But sometimes they're the people who have the most uh success because they're not invading everybody else. So, so I would say give it a try.

Don't, don't stop yourself just because you think that you don't have value, you probably have more value than you think it's just about making that first step. Um And, and also what I would say when you're part of a community because of course, it helps your brand, you know, you, you can put on your social media that you're a member of this community, for example, so straight away it will connect you with all the other members. Um And I see I'm part of different communities and for example, when I make a post on my linkedin, whatever the topic is, I recognize the people from that specific community um who will be commenting on my post or, or will be liking it. Uh And the reason is because they feel associated not with me directly, but with this community and it helps and it helps connecting and it helps with personal messages as well. Then we, you there, there's various ways to, to connect with people. Um But communities definitely the advantage you can have with the community is that you don't have to go and look for connections. The connections are there, all you have to do is to engage with the topics or engage with the mission vision and values. Um Now, let's see on the things that is best not to do that I have observed uh throughout many years of running a community.

Um A lot of people um don't read the vision mission and values carefully and tend to make say something odd or, or, or, or break some rules uh just because they didn't think that there was something important that could be something that they would do. Um that is not help if you end up. So I can give you an example, for example. Uh So, for example, in my community, we're raising awareness about social issues through arts and music and we have a couple of artists to think that we are there to promote them. Well, when we receive this type of emails, for example, the first thing that my team will do is just not spend time on it because they feel that, you know, the, the amount of effort they have made to write, to write about the, the mission vision and values which takes a long time to do um has not been considered.

So when you have a team who don't feel that their work is being considered, then how can you be considered in, in their eye? So, so it's very important to acknowledge uh the message that this community is trying to put through. Um So, um the o other thing to avoid doing as well is self publicity. Um If you join a community, for example, um that is promoting equality, diversity. Um And you're there trying to sell your product um that can be upsetting for some people because that's not the reason why people are joining. So you can join this community, have a chat about the, the topic or about the sessions and connect with them on linkedin, for example, and then on linkedin, you can send a message about what you're doing. But if you do it within the community, uh the chances you might make a few connections, but you, you might also upset a few people. So, so i it's, it's an assessment of the person you're speaking with. Some people are, are straightforward in terms of I'm here to make connections for work. So in which case, that's OK, you can make yourself publicity.

But if someone is speaking about the last session, for example, the last thing you want to do is to start to say, hey, look at my work and that's what I'm selling. Um And, and the same, that's the same for you. You wouldn't want to wa walk into a shop browsing and have people jumping on you and say, buy this. So, so it's very important to consider um how other people may feel in this community. And the other thing that I've observed as well in several communities is when there are um events, networking events, when people are talking to each other is uh the competition with each other. So this, this for me is a no go from the moment you compete with someone else. Well, first you expose yourself because you don't know who you're dealing with. You could be dealing with someone who has a lot more knowledge than you and that would not be helpful to you. And the second thing is people tend to be quite sensitive about people and they always, they will always think well, if it was me, uh so you, you might put people off by trying to competing to compete with others.

So that is also something that I would advise not to do. And, and just remember when you join a community, it's like everything in life. If, if you give something will come back eventually and, and the world will, will will go around. So, so try to, to make the most of it, try to give as much as you can and, and make the connections, don't try to sell when you're within the community and then from the connections you have, they will observe you, you will continue communicating with them and, and things will come up.

But don't, don't push things that, that is uh my advice. So, does anyone have any questions? Ok. Well, thank you very much for attending. And uh if you have any questions, these are my links. Oh, and I've written also of articles about communities if it's something you're interested in. Thank you. Thanks Alicia. Thanks Doris and thank you Rhi and everyone for at and it.