Subscribe for Letters From The Interior & discover YOUR brand's Voice Values with our complimentary self-assessment.

The Voice Bureau Asks Reader Edition: Why Do You Want a Tribe?

by Abby Kerr

in Uncategorized

About this column

This is a Reader Edition of The Voice Bureau Asks, in which we hand our readers the mic. We want to hear your 100-word take on 1 provocative brand challenge. Today’s question is . . .

Why do you want a tribe?


Tribes. As business owners and brand creators, we’re “supposed to” have them.

We’re supposed to nurture them, inspire them, empower them. We’re supposed to email them regularly.

We’re supposed to know what to do with them. (This last part has confounded many a smart and enterprising brand creator, so if this part is confusing for you, you’re not alone.)

Most of knowing what to do with your tribe comes with understanding why you even want one — and that’s exactly what we’d like to talk with you about today.

We’re asking this question because in our recent Reader Survey (which is still open for contributions, by the way), contributors have said that one of their Top 3 goals for 2013 is to grow their community, readership, or tribe.

So we want to know — why?

What do you think you’ll get by growing your tribe?

What are you hoping for?

What’s the result you’re aiming for?

In the comments, we’d love to hear:

Why do you want a tribe? Lay it out for us and we’ll talk back.

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Laura December 5, 2012 at 8:17 am

A big part of it for me is simply that I often feel like I work in a vacuum, and a big appropriate tribe would provide me real-world feedback from folks I can trust, so that I know if I’m really hitting the mark or just thinking that I am when I’m in my bubble. I’ve also seen how amazingly word-of-mouth works as a marketing tool when you find just the right people, and I want to multiply that with a bigger tribe so I can grow my sales.


Abby Kerr December 5, 2012 at 10:01 am

Hi, Laura —

A question about the first part of your thought: are you looking for real-world feedback from your peers and colleagues who have a similar skill set as you, or from potential clients?

And yes — I totally agree with you about word-of-mouth. Most of my business is by referral.


Wendie Tobin December 5, 2012 at 11:10 am

Ah, the tribe. When ensconced in MY tribe of like-minded businesswomen, I’ve seen amazing things unfold. It’s as if a current of energy flows through in the form of support, ideas, inspiration, and referrals. I think the key is this: Establish or identify a tribe that is truly authentic; you’ll know you’ve got your people based on results.

I’m seeing a saturation of “tribes” deliberately created around trends-of-the-moment. I think this permeation offers an opportunity for “the others”: developing coteries of folk that share an alternative vision.


Abby Kerr December 5, 2012 at 11:46 am

Hey, Wendie —

Thanks for weighing in here. Same Q for you as I asked Laura above: are you wanting a tribe of likeminded peers and colleagues, or a tribe of potential clients? And do you see them as one tribe or two different ones?


Wendie Tobin December 5, 2012 at 1:13 pm

The tribe of clients is absolutely the priority. It’s one of my key definitions of professional success. The best work (for me) comes from creating content with or for clients who share an aesthetic, principle, SOMETHING that exists within the vicinity of my own realm. I don’t suggest a need for a million mini-Wendies, but some link of connection.

As an aside: Regarding peers and colleagues, it’s nice to have a mix. I grow when exposed to new ideas and concepts, but my closest tribe of colleagues are most beneficial to my business plan regarding referrals. They tend to introduce me to “right people.” Also, I find the best creative energy comes from communicating with other like-minded peers.


Abby Kerr December 5, 2012 at 5:11 pm

I find the best creative energy comes from communicating with other like-minded peers.

Me, too! One thing I noticed earliest in my journey as a business owner is that I spent all my time talking to likeminded peers and not enough to the people who would actually need to hire me. LOL. The outcome of this, for me (NOT saying this is your scenario at all, just giving some backstory) is that I developed a more self-focused, ego-gratifying brand — but was disconnected from my Right People at a core level. I’ve really worked at shifting that over the last year and a half or so.


Wendie Tobin December 6, 2012 at 12:14 pm

Same. Have been working on that shift over the past six months.


Tamisha December 5, 2012 at 1:50 pm

Hi Abby – for me, “tribes”, both peer and potential client, has been about the conversation and someone to have it with. The conversation about the things we both care about, but from two different perspectives. I guess I feel like the more conversation there is, the more creativity there can be. Not that creativity doesn’t already live, but it multiplies with the conversation.


Abby Kerr December 5, 2012 at 5:13 pm

Tamisha (and I’m totally asking for my own curiosity here, so feel free not to respond ;)), do you get fueled by conversation, or does it ever seem to leave you feeling drained of your own ideas and off your center? I ask because I have a definite limit or point of diminishing returns to how much I can TALK about the ideas that light up, as opposed to actually enacting them. Guessing this is a personality-wiring thing.


Tamisha December 6, 2012 at 8:19 am

Hi Abby – I think it may be part personality, but we have that in common. I sometimes find that talking it out too much keeps me out of action and can sometimes even give me TOO many ideas or cause confusion. Definitely not what we’re going for. :-)


Abby Kerr December 6, 2012 at 12:40 pm

Right! Finding that helpful balance is where it’s at. :)


paul December 5, 2012 at 3:24 pm

for my business i like my tribe tiny.

i’m a one-person shop, always busy months in advance, and i’m not interested in hiring more people. so i like a tiny tribe. i’d rather have a handful of folks to work and build awesome things than a cookie-cutter solution that i have to keep sell-sell-selling to generate money.

i also don’t have a “colleague” tribe. i deal with design all day, so if i’m not on the clock i don’t want to talk about it further :) i guess i’m just a lone wolf (which is a misnomer since wolves are pack animals…).


Abby Kerr December 5, 2012 at 5:20 pm

Hey, Paul —

I was hoping somebody like you would weigh in — someone who’s NOT seeking to grow a tribe dramatically, and doesn’t need to feel actively supported by a group of colleagues. I know there are more out there! I also can’t help but think your POV has to do with you having been at your craft for several years now, and not romanticizing ‘entrepreneurship’ or small business ownership. At some point, it’s less about the What Would It/Should It/Could It Be Like To Run a Sought-After Business Online, and it’s more about getting down to doing your great work consistently and solving problems. I get that — and I’m an idealist. :)

BTW — great work on DLP’s new digs!


Jo Crawford December 5, 2012 at 5:34 pm

I have felt the pressure in the past to grow a client tribe and solidify it in some sort of community as that is a very popular business model in field. But recently I notice that my initial reticence (which initially I thought was merely fear-based) is two-fold: 1) I don’t want to develop a guru-vibe where I need to moderate community; and 2) my right people are quiet, private women who do not naturally share in groups.

So I’m letting go this perceived need to create a tribe. What still entices me (on low days) is hearing that my offerings are landing and valued – but this is ego-driven…not the greatest reason for business decisions!

I don’t have a peer tribe per se, more individual relationships which have been invaluable in bouncing off ideas and getting inspired.


Abby Kerr December 6, 2012 at 12:41 pm

Hi, Jo —

So true! Some brands will tend to attract a quieter audience who is not so socially-outward in their expression. It’s important to create opportunities for YOUR brand’s Right People to participate the way they naturally feel drawn to. That, of course, takes understanding them to begin with!


Larissa Heart December 6, 2012 at 11:45 am

Definitely interested in a tribe of like-minded peers, perhaps partly because like-minded peers are also my target business demographic. Mostly it’s because, like Laura said above, oftentimes I can feel like I exist with in a vacuum and it’s nice to connect with people similar to myself.


Larissa Heart December 6, 2012 at 11:46 am



Tara December 11, 2012 at 10:22 am

I resisted the tribe-thing for ages because I don’t so much *want* a tribe (I’m more of a one-on-one gal), but my community of customers DID want one. And they were each so smart, in ways that could help each other that I realized I did, in fact, have to give the tribe a way to exist with each other.
But once I did that, once I built the space where the tribe could gather together (nearly three years ago!) I realized that, as an introvert, that’s where one of my secret superpowers lie: in introducing people to each other, asking questions and then letting them bounce around finding solutions, without *me* always having to have the right answer.
So…the answer to your question is: I want the tribe to grow because that’s what’s best for my people, and what they want. And I’m responsible for bringing the people together for their best experience.
(kinda meta!)


Tea Silvestre December 11, 2012 at 11:00 am

I always seem to gravitate toward a leadership position in groups, so it feels natural to me to want to build a “tribe” of clients/prospective clients. But I find that things are much better when I focus on quality over quantity. Bigger isn’t always better!

To get my fix of interaction with peers, I participate in several other groups built and moderated by other leaders. It’s a great mix.


Sarah December 11, 2012 at 1:47 pm

I was reading “Never Eat Alone” earlier today and had to laugh because Keith Ferrazzi, the master of networking, wrote that all people are motivated by only one of three things: making money, finding love or changing the world… but for me, I’m just motivated by the people themselves (and I think Keith probably is too). I think people are endlessly fascinating, I think the connection between two right people can be the most powerful force in the world, and I want to grow my “tribe” because I always want to know more people – because the more dots I can connect, the more good I do and the more I can help people get those other things they want. It’s beautiful and amazing, and it’s why I love the internet and blogging… I’ve made the BEST relationships (which I then get to cement in real-world interactions.) Win-win-win-win. :-)


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: