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18 Tips for Building B2B Communities

How have seasoned community builders launched and grown their communities?

This was what I sought to answer when creating a talk for Social Media Strategy Summit this month, “How to Build and Run a Successful B2B Community.”

While I shared some of my own experience, I mostly deferred to the pros – namely 18 experts who shared advice with me.

You can find the full talk on YouTube, where I got a little punchy and started veering into a Larry David impersonation. The slides on SlideShare are more straightforward, and they include many more quotes, plus links to various resources that could be helpful as you build and engage with your communities.

Here are excerpts of this invaluable advice:

Starting the Community

Perry Hewitt, Colechurch Consulting: “When starting your community, invite customers and prospects intentionally. Start with people you know to be thoughtful problem solvers, and provide incentives (free product training sessions, exclusive offline events) for them to join.”

Alex Taub, Upstream: “Start with friends, and then if they like it, ask them to recommend one person and on and on, and quickly you’ll have a few degrees removed.”

Danielle Letayf, Badassery: “Be very specific in what you’re offering in the community, but at the same time transparent about the fact that the community is in its early stages. The members will be more forgiving and flexible, and the best community is in fact one that is built with members, not for them. They’ll be excited to take on the challenge and be part of the early stages of your community!”

Charlene Li, Quantum Networks: “Use profiles and introductions to create context. Encourage new members to add something about why they are here in the community when introducing themselves.”

David Markovich, Online Geniuses: “Go to relevant communities that are on dead platforms. It’s a great time to convert people from forums to Slack communities now.”

Rob Beeler, AdOpsOnline: “Clever doesn’t always work. I love a play on words and watched as my confused community members not understand a feature I was providing them. It’s sometimes better to call a job board a job board and not something clever.”

Saul Colt, The Idea Integration Company, “Give [the first members] the tools to lay the foundation of your community and have them bring their like-minded friends, so when you start opening this up, you have a real base of passionate people who will welcome the new people as they come in.”

Heidi Cohen, Actionable Marketing Guide: “Make sure that the goals of the community focus on the needs of the community and/or higher social needs. To this end, it helps if a brand is purpose-driven. Getting the early members requires a lot of time and outreach. Don’t expect this to be an easy-to-accomplish and quick-hit project.”

Gesche Haas, Dreamers//Doers: ”The most successful communities are those who are most intimately familiar with their community members’ pain points, who most directly address these pain points while fostering a sense of unity and connection around the shared pain.”

Building Engagement

Lindsay Kaplan, Chief: “Many people hear B2B and think corporate. But people are seeing your ads, people are reading your content, and people are making the decision to work with you. It’s never not personal.”

Loren Appin, Fishbowl: “The most successful B2B communities on Fishbowl allow for social interactions between members beyond transactional business opportunities. Do not treat a B2B community as only a place where members come for economic benefit. Instead, you should allow discussion around topics that, while still professionally relevant, allow members to build relationships with each other. For this reason, the early members need to seed the community with the right kind of content, which might even include icebreakers.”

David Homan, Orchestrated Connecting: “One of the rules of the Orchestrated Connecting Community, comprised of the most super-connected people on the planet, focuses on always following up with gratitude after you receive help. Gratitude without an additional ask subtext reinforces your role in this person’s life and creates a long-lasting imprint.”

A. Walton Smith, We Are Rosie: “When it comes to the first members, my tip is to start with solving their problem. Become their problem solver and they’ll begin to come.”

Rosie Yakob, School of Stolen Genius: ”Light lots of fires and see what catches. Explore the expanse of your creativity, start with breadth. Once you see what’s resonating within your industry, or culture at large, you’ll have an idea of where to focus. Then, you’ll want to turn the breadth into depth.”

Growing the Audience

Jason Berkowitz, Break the Web: ”Make people an authority in the group. They’ll be the ones selling your brand.”

Geoff Bruskin, White Tiger Connections: “Find 2-3 channels for farming new community members. Shapr is great for this. Lead with the value-add: your value proposition should be clear, concise, and center-field in your outreach message. Be consistent: spend at least 10 minutes every day reaching out to a certain number of people.  Over time, your community will grow.”

Michael Cole, Everflow: “Genuinely great customer success leads to evangelical customers that authentically want to promote your brand. That type of evangelism is the perfect tent poles for building a lasting community of engaged users that interact with each other.”

Christine Gritmon, Christine Gritmon, Inc: ”Focus on the places (groups, conversations, people, etc.) where you can bring the most value, rather than figuring out which ones are most likely to lead to money directly for you. Building relationships and a reputation will do you more good than focusing on direct transactional return, because that is how you earn referrals from people who are trusted by others, which will do far more for your business’s longevity than going for the quick, easy wins.”

There you go: 18 experts sourced from one guy who’s trying to learn from the best. Which resonate the most with you?

Watch the talk on YouTube, read and download the slides, and keep building.

And when you have a moment, let me know what you’re making of yourself.


P.S.: Want to meet other great marketers? Join the Serial Marketers SpeedUp #2 this Thursday at 5pm EDT and First Wednesday next week.

Benjamin Sklar, Forage founder, had me as a guest on his Hacking the Hustle podcast which you are free to consume aurally or also with blindingly handsome visuals. I was in a deeper mood amidst writing columns about Black Lives Matter where I’m out of my depth, but I hope that means I didn’t give the expected answers to Sklar’s questions about community management.
-Watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a90Ij33Gvx8
-Listen: https://anchor.fm/benji-sklar/episodes/37–A-Beginners-Guide-to-Starting-an-Online-Community-with-David-Berkowitz-efl1k1
-Stop, Drop, and Roll: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUdxOmHgeZ4

Marni Gordon of the ANA (whose event is featured below) started a LinkedIn series where she gives some networking tips. She features Serial Marketers here, and also my alma mater’s marketing group; I’m fortunate to get to collaborate with her across three organizations, and counting. Be sure to follow her for lots of great advice.





  • Ally.wiki master guide to resources
  • Coursera: learn about race, inequality, and social justice


Please send over any events you’re hosting or attending, and I’ll add them to the list. All events below are virtual, and all times are EDT, unless otherwise specified.

June 25, 5pm
Join the virtual 1:1 rapid-fire speed-meeting event to connect with fellow Serial Marketers, hosted by the Upstream app. It’s iOS only, for now (iPhone or Android). If you can’t make the event itself but want to try it, join the group. Better still, take the one-question survey to share what event times are best for you.

Tuesdays, 3pm
We have an incredible lineup:
-6/30: E-Commerce Trends with Sarah Hofstetter of Profitero
-7/14: Secret Financial Lives with Ben Zeidler and Gunny Scarfo, founders of Nonfiction Research
Request access to RSVP: 

July 1, 6pm
First Wednesday is back! We have dozens of great people RSVPing for this fun NYC tradition that is now open to anyone virtually. Len Bilello might even by you a drink.

July 7-8
Via my friends at the ANA: Register today to attend the 2020 ANA Digital & Social Media Conference virtually on July 7th and 8th.  You’ll stay ahead of the innovations in digital marketing by hearing the latest on personalization, channel optimization, influencer marketing, social listening, measurement, and developing responsive and engaging content from digital marketing leaders from Ford, Mondelēz, Molson Coors, Nationwide, Mastercard, Chipotle and more!  Buy ONE pass and you can register your entire company. Pricing starts at $299.

Events for May and June include conversations between Jack Myers and luminaries such as Ford’s Lisa Schoder and Jim Motavalli, Madison Avenue Manslaughter author Michael Farmer, and LUMA’s Mr. Lumascape Terry Kawaja.

Wednesdays, 2pm
Zeitguide’s Brad Grossman continues his weekly culture classes this week as the start of his 10-week summer semester. He always runs through the need-to-know cultural developments of the week, and features an expert guest each week.


Keep checking out the #jobs channel in Serial Marketers for more. I’ve added some descriptions of top-secret searches there, and others have posted some leads too. I have a couple more secret searches coming.

Senior Content Marketing Manager
From one of my favorite companies, in terms of their products: “We are looking for a Senior Content Marketing Manager to join our B2B Marketing team. You will be responsible for developing and executing a scalable content marketing machine that will engage and guide our target audience throughout the buying journey – from awareness to consideration up to advocacy.” (You can also connect with the poster in Serial Marketers.)

Digital Marketing Manager
Via their marketing lead Jen, who discovered the opportunity in this very newsletter: “I wanted to share a role we have open at Journey and are looking for a great candidate to come and focus on building out the email/push and overall CRM strategy, looking to optimize our customer journey for better growth and conversion. If you know of anyone great, please send them our way!” Apply below, and let me know if you want me to refer you.

Brand Marketing Manager
Philadelphia / Remote
Here’s a great role from an ERA-backed startup: “Stix provides women the products, education, and community they need, starting with a better pregnancy and ovulation test. Founders Cynthia Plotch and Jamie Norwood created Stix because buying high quality products should be easy and delightful, no matter the result you’re looking for… We are looking for a dynamic and creative individual to lead the charge on brand marketing and drive strategy for a rapidly growing marketing budget.

Other job resources:

  • Ad Ops Online: Job listings for ad operations, programmatic account management, sales operations, and more.
  • Advisable: Get instant access to top marketing freelancers
  • AMA Job Board: Listings from the American Marketing Association (maybe you can also ask them anything)
  • Built in NYC: Jobs at a range of levels and functions, as long as you’re okay working in this quaint, backwater hamlet.
  • CareerList: Here’s a form for companies hiring and a form for job seekers; here’s the public list with tabs for both
  • Content Writing Jobs: Content marketers, enjoy
  • CoronaHub: Jobs relating to the crisis response
  • ExecThread: Senior roles spanning a range of verticals and cities; membership is free but fully vetted (this uses my referral ID to get you in faster)
  • GLG: Get paid to share your topical expertise; it can lead to some interesting conversations at a potentially decent hourly rate
  • Grace Blue Transitions: A portal for hirers and seekers with resources from this exec recruiting firm
  • The Hired Guns: An array of jobs in marketing and related fields at brands, agencies, and media companies
  • Hunterz: A way for connectors to get paid to introduce startups to large enterprises
  • Lead5: A paid service for executive roles, plus intel on changes with companies and PE investments; you can try a risk-free weeklong trial to see if it’s any good for your needs
  • Lunch Club: Match 1:1 around predetermined goals with accomplished professionals (free)
  • NYC Ad Jobs & Networking: A popular Facebook group
  • One Club for Creativity: COVID-19 jobs Board
  • Pangea: Where you can hire college freelancers (and college students can get gigs)
  • TechNY Daily: While more technical, there are also some sales and marketing jobs at NY startups.
  • VC Job Boards: AlephEniac Ventures, PearSequoiaUnion Square Ventures
  • VentureLoop: Free startup job listings; their paid option is $15/month and might surface more leads (but it might not).
  • Wanted: Wanted helps top talent in tech and marketing find a job at your desired pay. Plug in your salary, stay anonymous at first, and connect with companies that want to recruit you.

Do you run or enjoy other job listing sites? Let me know, and I’ll share them.

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