Elizabeth Henson Header

How To Build and Lead Your Community With Elizabeth Henson


TRANSCRIPT AUTOMATICALLY GENERATED [00:00:00] Diane: Hey, Hey, today's guest Liz Henson. And when we plopped down next to each other at an event and didn't stop talking for two days straight, she has a podcast at photographer and coach for creative business owners, and we are going to dive into her super power today, building community. Hey Liz, welcome to the show. [00:00:14] Liz: Hi, I'm so excited to see you. I feel like we can always pick up right where we left off. [00:00:19] Diane: exactly definitely. We were fated to sit next to each other that first day. So let's start off with a little bit about your business journey. [00:00:27] Liz: Oh, my goodness. So I kind of always knew I was going to work for myself. I just didn't know what it was going to look like. I thought about making t-shirts. I was a graphic designer when I got out of college and I ended up doing photography and becoming a wedding photographer. That was my stepping stone into being an entrepreneur that allowed me to quit my day job. I created a photography business, almost six figures, and about three to four years. And, unfortunately it was just a stepping stone and I got completely addicted to the lifestyle of being my own boss and being an entrepreneur. And I eventually. Really fell into teaching other photographers, which led me to falling in love with just helping women grow their businesses in general. And it wasn't like teaching someone how to use their camera. That really fueled my soul. It was that moment where they realized that their life is their own and they can make these scary choices to do whatever it is that they choose to do. Right. And. I always grew my photography business and my coaching business with word of mouth referrals, building community. And anytime someone had to describe, Liz Henson, it was, she brings people together. She's an ambassador of community networking. I was kind of known for all these things. So that led me to figuring out how do I use that super power. To not just help women who are starting their business, but how do I use this superpower to help seven and eight figure CEOs and their business. And that's how I landed in, community growth strategy and community management and really the direction that I'm going today. [00:02:09] Diane: I have so many questions. I almost don't know where to start, but I feel like this is always the case. When we have a conversation that we land up on one thing and we go from like 17 different directions. So let's talk about community. How do you define it? Are we talking about like the people in my Facebook group? Not that I have a Facebook group, but you know, [00:02:25] Liz: Totally. So I think of community as almost a culture and environment, a non-tangible. And when I describe it to people, I say, Think about an event that you went to, that you walked in the room and you just knew that this was big. Like I'm going to take something amazing away from this. It feels bigger than me. And I'm really excited to be a part of it that's community. And we can do that. We can exude that type of energy on our Instagram account inside of Facebook group, walking through the neighborhood. I really look at our ability to build community as an alignment with leadership and that non-tangible ability to see and hear other people. And if we can master that skill, then we naturally build community just walking through the world. [00:03:23] Diane: so how many people are in a community? [00:03:26] Liz: It could be two, it could be. 20,000. I don't really measure community and numbers. It's like, if you're on a stage, how many people are you are you're trying to reach. Are you currently reaching? Are you in a room with 10 chairs? Are you on a stage talking to 500,000 people? It looks different, but something I really like to touch on is like the difference in a leader and an influencer and leaders, like kind of exude this energy that I'm talking about. This non-tangible influencers are simply talking to a lot of people and you can be both. Let me put it this way and influence them. Has a large audience. And, they're usually teaming up with brands, they're influencing their audience to do a certain thing. A leader makes the people around them better creates more leaders and a leader can be a leader in front of one person. An influencer needs to be in front of a lot of people. So I always like to ask people like if you had to choose which one would you want. [00:04:31] Diane: That's such an interesting definition because I feel like so many people in the entrepreneurial space are chasing community. From an influence angle. They're chasing audience, they're chasing eyeballs, they're chasing numbers. And I always come back to, that example that people give, like if only a hundred people, soil, Instagram posts, if you put a hundred people in a room and you got to speak to them, how excited would you be? [00:04:55] Liz: Exactly. Yeah, exactly. And I do think there's a, a lot of people chasing that influencer status. So it's like, well, what does that really mean? Right? Like if you had the choice to get a hundred thousand people to shop at the same place you do, or to change one person's life, like which one would you choose? [00:05:15] Diane: So how does this happen in a business perspective? It's great to lead one person and impact one person, but obviously in a business perspective, we're looking to. Build a bigger community that than that [00:05:29] Liz: Yeah, cause numbers are important, right? Like numbers matter, especially if, if you're converting at the average 2%, you're going to need to reach a lot of people to really create revenue or wealth out of that, or more impact. Right. But if you can master this skill with one person, the ability to see, to truly see and hear other people and give that amazing customer experience to one person while also tapping into their social ecosystem, like that's where the word of mouth happens and that's where the community growth happens. And usually. There's a gap, right? Like I'm posting on Instagram and nobody's responding or I'm posting my sales page and nobody's buying my stuff. And there's usually a gap in that ability to lead, to build community, to truly see and, see and hear other people. And that's how this helps businesses is, ads are great when you already have a business that works and you already have word of mouth that works. Then when you can pour into ads, you're like feeling the fire for something that already works, but it has to work from the inside out. It has to work from the inside culture, like the community culture within a business, and also the community culture from business to customer. [00:06:45] Diane: This is quite an unusual conversation in the entrepreneur space. I'm wondering, and this is not a question I ask often on my podcast, but I'm wondering if there's some framework or. I don't want to say checklist, but like, what are the elements in community that we can be looking for? Because for you, this is just the most natural thing in the world. And I know there'll be some people listening, who are thinking of community of more than one person feels like too many people. Can we break this down into like action or elements or something? [00:07:16] Liz: yes, Diane. And I love that you asked this because I have spent. Eight years in like the feelings side of this, like being in a room and telling people these, these feeling type things. But it wasn't until like the last six months where I realized you can systematize this. And I created like a five pillar system around building community or community management. Big businesses, but it will also work for the solo preneur. And if you follow me, I'm a big component of MSCI success. My podcast is called the messy success podcast and I was like, how can I incorporate messy success into this? Five pillar system and building community. And this is so awesome. The timing of all this, because my team and I just sat down yesterday and, and like figured this out because building community, one of my five pillars is, sharing the journey, the social proof. Nobody's really interested in perfection. People like drama. People like to see us stumble. They like to see how we react to stumbling. And that is messy. And part of building community is building trust, which is sharing a little bit of that, the bumps and the speed bumps in the road. Right? So not only is sharing the journey and being okay with being a little bit messy part of building community, but we created what's called the messy method or the messy system, which is my five points. And we were able to squeeze it into working right. Messy. And Essy a five letter word. [00:08:55] Diane: love it. When an acronym works, know how much I love an acronym. [00:08:58] Liz: Yeah. So, I mean, I can like scratch the surface of what those are. [00:09:04] Diane: Yeah. I think if you can, just because I think conceptually the idea of the community doesn't have to just be this natural thing. It can be something they can focus on. If you could just give them the pillars to actually think about, I think that's a great starting point for people. [00:09:18] Liz: Yeah, absolutely. So it's messy. So the M is sharing your journey kind of building that trust in being okay with being vulnerable, knowing that it's not interesting to be perfect. And if nobody's, reacting to your posts or your friends. Or the way you're showing up online, there's a good chance that you're just showing up a little bit too perfectly, and there's not enough like drama or interest there. The second piece is the environment and culture. So the E is for environment and culture from the inside out, like I said, And then the first S is what I call my scorecard method. And this was really hard. You know, me, you know, I'm super creative. You had to help me with some of my systems back in the day, but I had to figure out if I'm going to work for these six and seven figure companies, how am I going to measure my success? How are we going to attach an ROI? Or KPIs to community management and building community. If I'm in your Facebook group or I'm helping you interact in your Facebook group, how do we measure that? And that's how I came up with the scorecard method, which is whoever's in charge of the community, whether it's a solo preneur, or whether it's head of community or customer service in your business, they bring that scorecard to the weekly meetings they serve as that bridge, from the community to the sea. So that's a really important piece. That's where all the data lives. The second S is strategy. So strategy includes how do you welcome new members, onboarding, offboarding, affiliates, ambassadors, all of those things require strategy. And then the Y is your content plan. So content engagement, what are we looking for? A huge piece of all of this is setting goals. It's not going to look exactly the same for everyone. The scorecard, , is customizable because your goal might be sales. The goal might just be more members, but we have to always keep our eye on what that specific goal is, so that we can tailor this messy system for each business. [00:11:13] Diane: It feels to me like building community with your method is changing your focus to be more intentional on community, in what you're already doing. [00:11:23] Liz: Yes, no, that's a really great way of putting it. And I do like to say it's a way of being right, like being a great leader and having that ability to, to attract community is a way of being it's it's actually not strategy. The strategy is important and the strategy is part of it. And I have to be able to have these strategy based conversations to really be the go-to expert in this space, but you're so right, right. These are things we're already doing, but when there's a disconnect and we're not seeing the growth that we want, we're not seeing the results that we want. It can, 100% be turned around to our ability to attract people, because if we can attract people to our business and we can communicate the problem that we solve, then it should be kind of happening, right? Like the business should be a byproduct of this ability to build community. [00:12:16] Diane: So the minute I hear a business owner talk about community. My initial reaction is like the Facebook group invite is seconds behind me. it's coming. it's going to be in the next message. Like, Yeah. join my group. I'm curious because now you're seeing the behind the scenes of these high level community. And we're seeing people. I'm not saying Facebook, isn't a valid strategy. Facebook is a completely valid strategy, but I'm definitely seeing people being like, I don't want to be in Facebook. So less interested in joining and engaging in that kind of community. People leaving it entirely. The younger gen Z coming up behind us who have no interest in Facebook. Where else do we bring our community together? so I get that one-to-one relationship that you're talking about and being that leader and pulling your community to you, but how do you pull that community together in maybe a different way than we've traditionally done [00:13:08] Liz: Yeah. I mean, there's so many ways. Yeah. Like Facebook is just a chosen platform. This can happen on mighty networks circle there's Patriots. Slack. I mean, there's a million different opportunities on where we can build community, whether it's tick-tock Instagram, it really, that stuff doesn't matter. What does matter is that on that platform, we can see and hear other people and, react to them. They're not going to come back unless they can talk about themselves. Like people are very simple and selfish. Human beings. And if we want our space, Facebook group, whatever that space is to be one of the first five places that they go every morning, because think about, know, we're all creatures of habits. We all have those five platforms, apps, websites that we're checking, and we might be 10, but I'm just saying five about pulling that out there. That we go to first thing in the morning. So if we want our space, our business, our platform to be one of those first five for someone else, they have to have that motivation, that reason to go there, which means it has to serve them in a huge way. And they have to be able to talk about themselves, or if they're a fly on the wall, like see themselves in the conversations of other people. So I love Facebook groups. I think Facebook groups are making a comeback, but I have helped businesses move their communities from Facebook group to another platform. The platform really is going to be different for everyone, and it doesn't really matter. As long as people can come together and connect and member to member connection. To me even speaks volumes to an even better leader. If members are connecting with other members, like how you and I kind of connected, , that is a reflection of a great event, a great leader because you and I were able to connect and then walk away and do our own thing. So that's a whole nother way to kind of measure the success. Are you bringing people together so that they can grow on their own versus just under you? [00:15:18] Diane: So if somebody was like, well, let's use actually let's use me as an example. So I don't have the free Facebook. Yeah. As top of it. Would you suggest that I have one, if you think the tide is turning back towards Facebook. So my ideal client is more established in business. And I talk much more obviously about customizing your business yourself. I talk about leaning into your superpower. I took a lot on Instagram about that sort of thing, but there's not a space where I'm bringing people together to talk about that. [00:15:46] Liz: Yeah. So I would want to hear more about your goals. So if you're going to bring people together how is it going to benefit them to show up in that Facebook group versus. Just paying attention to your Instagram and, or like, how is it going to benefit you? So I like to ask myself a lot of questions in business. Like how can I do what feels light and easy for me, but create more value for my community. And this can look really backwards to what society tells us it should be. So like inside my membership, I asked myself that question. It's a non-content based membership. We essentially just meet on zoom. And I was like, I need this to feel even more light and easy for me, but provide more value to them. So I actually added more meetings because it's easy for me to show up on zoom. I don't have to do anything before. I don't have to do anything after I can put it in my calendar for the exact same time every week. That is so light and easy. But that provides more value for them because it's more opportunity for them to connect with me, in a small group setting where a lot of people would say, oh, that's backwards. That's more of your time. Like automate everything. But I am my best on zoom or in a room with people. So I know that about myself and that feels easy to me. Writing a long blog, post or 10 emails or the perfect social media captions. That's not where I am my best. So I leaned my business into where I'm at best. So my question for you would be, is it super clear where you're your best, how you can best serve your, your people to give them even more value and have it feel light and easy for you? [00:17:30] Diane: Hm, I like that question a lot because no, Facebook, the reason I don't have a Facebook group is because it doesn't feel light and easy. And I hate being in Facebook groups where I'm like, oh, it's Monday here comes the motivation Monday, post didn't even change the background the way to go. Right. Normally I'm just going, oh, let's see what shingling software they use. Right. So I'm quite jaded as a participant in. Very much non-paying Facebook groups. If it's the Facebook group, that's connected to a course or a program that I'm in, then I'm much more engaged in it. So I can see the, importance of me potentially having one with a group style program that I can get down with. But for my free top of funnel, it's always felt crunchy to me. Whereas would you describe, Yeah, I could just turn on. 24 7 and coach people without really needing any form of prep. [00:18:18] Liz: Yeah, and I love that because something, my team is really, really pushing me on is how do we get you on Facebook and Instagram and these other platforms to come across the way you do on these zoom calls. So that's why we're really thinking about if we create a free Facebook group, how do we make it feel as much like it does when someone's on a zoom call with me, that sentence came out funny, but, wait. [00:18:44] Diane: Yeah. This has been really helpful, I think, because even though I follow you, and even though I listened to you talk about community in this way, I think we've all experienced really bad community. And really boring community and really great community, but it can be really hard to think about like, what's the difference and you can just attribute it to that person and think, well, you either got it or you haven't got it. let's say you already have a community and it's doing well, and you're a great leader, but you're ready to hand it off to, I guess someone like you, right. To not hand it off. That sounds terrible. Delegate. [00:19:15] Liz: systematize [00:19:16] Diane: systematize outsource. I don't mean to make it sound like a chore. You, you need a specialist to come in. How do you transfer your leadership? That is the backbone of that community, because you will, we will be known as communities where you sign up and it's one thing and it's magical. And then the main person vanishes and like, it just goes like . Like a deflating balloon. Right. So how do you. do that transfer really well? Cause I'm sure some people listening already have really active communities that they need to step up from. And I thinking about who to hire, how to hire, how to hand it over. [00:19:54] Liz: Yeah, that's such a good question. And again, that kind of comes back to knowing where we show up best. So like, that's one of those things in my business that I probably, I would have help, but I probably wouldn't pass off, but hands down, that's why I do what I do to help these visionaries and CEOs that don't want to be in their Facebook group. But they know how important that is. And I always say, if you, if you run a Facebook group or any kind of community, I keep saying Facebook, but any kind of community and your students or your people, or creating some kind of video, like say it's a two-week challenge. And you've asked them to go live and introduce themselves. You hands down, need somebody on your team that will watch that 10 minute video with their full attention and their full heart so they can reply. And mean it and meet that person where they are. So that person feels seen and heard. And that's not possible for a lot of these CEOs that have these large groups and do these large challenges. So that's why having that support team is so important. And community management is a personality like this is like your Enneagram twos, the people that live. To make someone else happy. Like they, that is all they want in life is to sit there and listen to what people have to say. And that is not every digital CEO and that's okay. And if you, like you said, in communities where the leader just steps out and everything deflates that has 110% a reflection of their leadership, that energy, that culture should be able to stay in groups where you see this happening. I've done a lot of research around this is where you get to know their team. So. Business admin, one business admin too, or just ghost writing from the CEO's education page does not sit the same way with people as like James Wedmore. For example, one of his lead coaches was like jazzy. Everyone knows Jesse. Like they're just as excited to get coached by jazzy as they are by him. And that's how you really want to set those communities up for success. As you introduce these people, you get them just as excited about these team members as they are about you. And they will show up and that culture will continue to grow. Right. And then the CEO always gets to choose, like we're never taking away their ability, but we want them to pop in five minutes here, five minutes there, but like, we want it to truly be there. And there's a lot of controversy around this topic because a lot of people just want the ghost writing. Just pretend to be me like reply to everyone and pretend to be me. And I'm like, first of all, that's not possible. Second of all. You're going to be looked at as so much more of an authority. If you have that MC that person it's like here comes Diane, she's going live today. We're so excited like that assistant that MC versus like everyone just pretending to be you. So, obviously when I'm a little bit of a tangent, I'm extremely passionate about that part, but that is how you get that culture to really vibe and to really work is to humanize your team and humanize the people. [00:23:02] Diane: When you're doing that kind of ghost writing, whether it's in your community, in your emails when I discover that it's not you, it feels like a betrayal of trust. And I would much rather know who I'm actually talking to. Then having that ghost writing if you're asking me to open up, if you're asking me to talk to you and I talked to you and I find it, like, it's almost like you've been talking about me to a third. And so to me, that's always felt really epic. That's what I've always, so I'm very averse to that as well, but for different reasons from you [00:23:32] Liz: Yeah. I mean, and it's, it's a really common topic and a lot of people are like, well, they'll just make the assumption that it's me or that it's a team member, but people want to see other humans. Right? So there's an, it's a sign of good leadership when people can let go. And when people can trust. And that's another like huge difference maker that I see and the businesses that really thrive. They have the ability to trust and let go there, with their team members. And then trust that that person can do that at their best capacity. And once you can eliminate that fear of mistakes, they're usually less mistakes. [00:24:12] Diane: It's an interesting dynamic in the entrepreneur space that I've come across coming from a very corporate background coming from having teams reporting to me teams that I was dependent on that had indirect reporting. And to me in the entrepreneur space. They only see it as like, I need to take responsibility when my team. Messes up and even then that's touch and go let's face it. We've had some cracking examples of not being able to do that, but what they don't seem to see on the flip side is that if you accept, this is where the buck stops. That when your team does well, you get all that credit. And I don't mean taking credit for their work. You get credit because they were so good at their job. I think some of that nervousness to let go that nervousness to trust your team is because you're only seeing that one side of the equation. [00:24:58] Liz: Totally. And I I always notice when CEO is think their team first and foremost, like before anything even comes out of their mouth, they're thinking their team. And I always notice when they point the finger because essentially that's that's leadership and that's an example of a great, great team and a great leader is someone who's willing to, to publicly say like, there's no way I could do this myself. People can sense it. When we have a security blanket, people can sense fear, and it comes across as like resistance or re repelling. But when we're fully open and willing to learn from mistakes, willing to lead through our mistakes, that's when people really become even more attracted to us. Right. Like I even get this, the fear of like, okay, if I'm going to start my own Facebook group and like the group isn't engaging in, like, this is what I do, how do I react to that? And it's okay. What a great content topic to say, what do you do? When something's not working and then you just lead through that versus like trying to hide it or mask it or sitting in fear. [00:26:17] Diane: I love that. So I know that there are people who are going to be like me going like, Hey, I lost this question. I hadn't asked that question, but where can people get started with you to get some help building their own committee? [00:26:27] Liz: Yeah. So my website is just Elizabeth henson.co to knock.com but.co and I'd offer free coffee chats all the time. If you're like a bigger business, I'm happy to meet with like your OPM or your community manager. All the way to like, to like free consultation calls, just to really get an idea of where your business is at and how I can help and we have just made this incredible freebie that is twenty-five conversation starters to use inside your community or on your Instagram platform, whatever it might be. And you can customize them, but you don't really need to. And it talks not only about like, here's just twenty-five icebreakers. Right. But it's like, why are these important, how does this particular topic. Get your audience telling you what's important to them. Because another thing that I do is I help people create content that is screenshot worthy. Right? You want people reacting to what you're saying in a way that is screenshot worthy and a lot of businesses aren't doing that. And if they are, they're not systematizing it and actually using those screenshots. So you can find that freebie on the website as well. Elizabeth Henson. [00:27:38] Diane: awesome. [00:27:39] Liz: core value for me is just being able to operate from that highest. Good. And I have been given really high pace. Positions, but if I'm not in my highest good, I can't stay there and that's, [00:27:54] Diane: So to wrap up, I like to ask all my guests a couple of questions first up. What is your number one lifestyle boundary your business? [00:28:02] Liz: oh, that's a great one. That's a great one. My number one lifestyle boundary operating from my highest. Good. And I know that's probably different than what most people answer. Because for me, I don't really have issues with boundaries with like cell phones or people contacting me at 10 o'clock at night. I really feel like my people show up for me exactly as I, as I want them to need them to, not that there's not always like one little exception to the rule, but I have found that a hard, life and business, but just becoming aware of like, if there's a there's there's no good bad, there's no right or wrong, but I look at it as like highest good on one side of the slider and resistance on the other side. So like really keeping that slider towards my highs. [00:28:50] Diane: It's kind of a positive boundary versus a no, I don't do this or, Hey, finally, what is the worst piece of cookie cutter advice you've been given as an entrepreneur? [00:29:00] Liz: Gosh, these are really good. What is it like give yourself grace has kind of become. Like one of those sayings that I'm just, to me, it lacks accountability. And anytime that we feel like something's hard or heavy or resistance anything that brings up heaviness or resistance is an opportunity for us to learn. It's an opportunity for us to move that slider closer to our highest. Good. And. When our solution to everything is just, I'm just going to give myself grace or give yourself grace. There's no accountability there to, to move that slider. Now, of course there's a time and a place, but it's just one of those like pieces of advice or phrases that I think actually does more of a disservice, especially if it's a coach to client relationship or an authority student relations. [00:29:52] Diane: And I think it also, it's one of those things. Fine. I've decided to give myself grace in this particular space. Do I know why I need that grace? [00:30:02] Liz: Yeah. And just like standing in that decision and everything, like the most successful entrepreneurs are just quick decision makers. It's not about making the right decision or the wrong decision. It's just making that decision because you get more clarity. The more action that you take. [00:30:19] Diane: Yeah. Awesome. This has been So much fun. I knew it would be. It's always amazing to chat with you. Where is the best place for people to connect with you? [00:30:29] Liz: So Instagram is my favorite. It's Elizabeth dot Henson, but to be completely transparent, I do feel like, yeah. Pivoting. And I'm spending more time in my Facebook groups. But yes, connect with me on Instagram and Elizabeth at Henson. And then send me a message. Let me know this is how you found me so that we can. Community together. And I will always like follow people back and continue the conversation. But I need to know where you found me because Instagram and bots, I don't trust people as far as I can throw them. So I always give people that advice, whether you're following me or somebody else, like let people know how you found them, say hello in the DMS and like make it a conversation, not just like a blind follow. And I'd be happy to continue that conversation and let you know all about where to find you're on Facebook. [00:31:15] Diane: awesome. I love it. Thank you so much. [00:31:19] Liz: Yeah, this was amazing. Thank you so much for having me.

Trying to decide if you should try to reinvigorate your Facebook group or drop it altogether?

Liz Henson walks you through the feeling of and the strategy behind community around your business and which platform to focus on.

Key Takeaway

Community is not about size or location but rather about intentional leadership.

We talk about

  • How to define community
  • The intersection of building community and leadership
  • The MESSY method for building your community
  • Which platform is best for community building
  • How to delegate community management without destroying your group
  • Liz’s lifestyle boundary for her business
  • The worst cookie-cutter advice Liz’s been given on her lifestyle business

About Elizabeth

Elizabeth Henson is the owner of Elizabeth Henson Photos INC., founder of The Messy Success Podcast, and Shine The Light Society membership.

Elizabeth has become the go-to expert in community management and leadership. She helps six and seven figure companies become pro's at building and maintaining large communities that turn into marketing machines.

Elizabeth's signature system for building word-of-mouth-based business and getting more referrals has changed the landscape of digital marketing. She gets businesses out of the content generating hamster wheel and into relationships that leverage their leadership. Elizabeth is also a BBD Plus Coach and Sales Pro for James Wedmore. 

You can find Elizabeth working from home while jamming to 90s music! She loves hot yoga, and her core values are simple: To be creative and operate from her highest good every week. 



This page may contain affiliate links. I earn a commission or reward on all qualified purchases made when you use these links. 


The information contained above is provided for information purposes only. The contents of this podcast episode and article are not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on any of the contents of this article or episode. Professional advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from taking any action as a result of the contents of this article. Diane Mayor disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on any of the contents of this article.