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When Facebook’s Kara Cronin was a child, her grandparents encouraged her to sell — admittedly — her rudimentary drawings to the neighborhood.
She set up a booth one summer, made a sign and waited on the sidewalk for customers. She sold one to an older neighbor, Mrs. Nancy Curtain, but business was otherwise quite slow.
But Cronin still had fun interacting with the people who stopped by. Like most chatty kids, she asked a lot of questions, but she also listened to their answers. Prospects took note of her sincere interest in their lives, and eventually, sales ticked up. She made $100 that summer. Not bad.
She also learned a lot about what it takes to build a brand.
Now the community manager on the Community Partnerships Team at Facebook, Cronin specializes in uniting people, both in the corporate world and outside of it.
At Inman Connect Las Vegas, Cronin shared four powerful pointers for building a community around a brand.
1. Be relatable
Cronin told the audience that people want to work with who they like and trust. Be online who you are in person.
“You should have a carefully curated local presence that connects back to your brand,” she said. “Ask yourself on a regular basis, ‘Who am I?’ and ‘What do I have to say?'”
It’s important to give people something they expect, and that provides value to the community you’re looking to be a part of.
Cronin said it’s more important for your brand to reflect interests and personality, like the “personal interests” section of a resume. “Lean into who you are,” she said.
2. Immerse yourself in your community
Wanting your community to know you is important, but it’s more important for you to know it.
“Be very active and engaged in your community,” she said. “You should be out there attending neighborhood events, supporting small business, joining local Facebook groups. But you have to really show up — show you care.”
The key, according to Cronin, is to invest in authentic relationships before you need them.
3. Remember your ABCs
Cronin’s “ABCs” represents a way to engage with people through more meaningful conversations, from work to personal life. ABC stands for ask, build and connect.
“Ask stands for ask thoughtful questions,” she said. “B stands for building on their answers, and C stands for connecting with that person, making it personal.”
Cronin suggested that if, for example, your buyers tell you a kitchen island is important, find out why. Do they like to cook? Can another kitchen layout work? Perhaps asking why will reveal that they have a special childhood memory, like spending time with a loved one around the kitchen island.
The client’s answers can then lead to a more invested conversation and eventually, a more long-lasting, connected relationship.
4. Don’t underestimate your impact
“The work you do is not something you should take lightly, especially in a world where community is everything,” Cronin said.
Cronin stressed that agents are helping people create homes through sales and in turn, building actual communities. “You’re the ones helping people take experiences that can often feel overwhelming into something that feels like home,” she said.
Community-building can have long-term benefits, Cronin said.
As the pandemic took hold, Cronin took her drawing habit to the digital palette, sketching in pixels on her iPad. She even managed to sell one — to the same person who bought her first childhood portrait outside of her grandmother’s house all those years ago: Ms. Nancy Curtain.
Craig C. Rowe started in commercial real estate at the dawn of the dot-com boom, helping an array of commercial real estate companies fortify their online presence and analyze internal software decisions. He now helps agents with technology decisions and marketing through reviewing software and tech for Inman.