This post is part of the 30-Day Bloom Your Online Relationships Challenge. If you’d like to play along, you can sign up here (don’t worry — it’s FREE). We’re all working through these small, powerful actions together and sharing our questions, learnings and experiences in a Facebook group. And we’d love to have you join us!

There’s a huge difference between having a big list and having a good list.

To build a community, to have engaged participants is far more valuable for you and your business than merely getting to big numbers (whatever big means to you.)

I’ve been a business coach for over ten years and every single time I do a talk, workshop, webinar or promotion, I collect email addresses and include these opted-in names in my monthly newsletter list.  I also have an “offer” on the front page of my website that lets folks opt-in.  A list is hugely important to me and the success of my business.

I was so pleased to hear about Tea’s Bloom Your Audience challenge because she totally gets this concept of connecting authentically with your community, not just list-building to get big numbers.

The advice I am sharing is to ASK FOR ADVICE.

I figured this one out by doing it myself.  My daughter was about to graduate from high school and I reached out to all of the significant adults who had touched my daughter’s life, from her grandparents (and even great-grandmother) to aunts, uncles, adult friends and her grown-up cousins and I asked them all the same question:  What advice do you wish someone had given you when you were graduating from high school?  The responses were thoughtful and some were quite extensive.  One of my aunts even took it on herself to reach out to her own network and gather more voices and advice.

I was delighted to assemble them all into a photo book which we presented to my daughter at her graduation dinner.

Amy Gallant enjoys her gift

Our family and friends had loved participating in this project and many of them asked if they could borrow the idea themselves.  I was delighted with the outcome and my daughter was completely surprised and broke into tears when she received it.

All of this was going on in my personal life.  My work world is usually quite separate:  I’m a “strictly-business” business coach.   In June of this year, I went out on a limb and shared this project along with some of the wonderful advice in the emailed newsletter.

I gave the newsletter the subject line “What Advice Would You Give?” and that month’s open rate, forwards and thoughtful email responses were amazing.  People took the question to heart and thought about the advice that they wish someone had given them.

This asking for advice angle can work on a whole bunch of levels as you look to bloom your audience.  Use it in social media:  LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter.  One of my favorite maxims for my coaching clients is that there’s no prize for accomplishing business goals on your own.  Superman is a myth.  Everyone needs help and support sometime.

If you have a real business problem, being honest and asking for help makes you a real person.  No one has all the answers and admitting you can use their insight makes you human.  It also gives them a glimpse into you as a person…especially if the advice is not just business-related, like my question.  My graduate school recently used this approach—what advice would you give new students to our school?  And as a recipient, it did make me pause and think about it.

Some final tips:  If possible, thank everyone who responds with a personal email and consider publishing advice/responses in a subsequent newsletter or blog post (at least if the tips are good!)

As you shape questions to put out there, keep in mind your Ideal Client profile—who do you want to reach?  Ask for advice that will interest and engage them!

Today’s Challenge: 

Ask Your Connections for Advice on Something. Bonus points for asking a question that’s also relevant to your Ideal Clients.

Once you’ve taken action, come visit us on Facebook and tell us what you did and how you felt about it. Was it easy for you to find someone to do something nice for? Hard? No right or wrong answers here — we’re all just experimenting!

Illustration credit: Leyton Parker

Photo credit: Deborah Gallant