There’s a pizza restaurant in my neighborhood that sponsors a weekly bike ride during the summer months. Anyone that wants to go on an easy 13 mile ride or more challenging 20 mile ride just shows up and joins the ride. There is no cost to participate, the rides have a leader and some support for riders and you get 10% off food that night.
The support, leadership and organization for the rides is provided by several local bike shops, which also offer quick bike fixes on the spot and 20% off gear back at the shop.
Most Wednesday evenings about 60 people show up and by my quick scan most, including myself, stick around and drink some beers and eat some pizza.
The tribe of people that want to participate in group bike rides is enthusiastic about their sport and this clever business has basically created a tribe for his business by enabling an existing tribe of riders to do something they want to do.
That’s what I mean by sponsoring tribes. The notion of tribes has become a commonly accepted way to characterize groups of people that are passionate about an idea, product, company or initiative and I think it applies broadly to the community building that most businesses realize is the key to success.
I further believe this deeper mindset of tribe sponsoring has powerful applications for just about any business.
What if you started looking for ways to be a community resource? What if you found a strategic partner – like the bike shops – that could help you bring together people interested in something that wasn’t necessarily related to your business?
Could a financial planner start offering exercise classes focused on seniors? Could a consulting firm create space for startups to launch? Could a print shop offer free graphic design courses? Could an accounting firm offer business software training? Could a running store offer vegan cooking lessons?
This is a powerful mindset and one that should consume about 1/3 of your community building efforts. If you have a physical space, such as a store or large meeting space, you almost have a community obligation to look for ways to use this space to assemble other people’s tribes.
Even if you don’t have what feels like an obvious way to do this, consider the example above for clues or scan LinkedIn or Facebook for local groups that are already active and formed but that might be looking for a business to host or support the passion they’ve formed around.
Here’s the key to the equation – you can get what you want by helping other people get what they want. It’s really that simple and if you start with that mindset the possibilities for creative tribe partnering and sponsoring are limitless.