Platform and Community First – Overnight Success

In our latest in the Overnight Success series, I bring up a point that Julien talks about in his recent speeches: that platform and community have to come first before success. People rarely find success while they’re still obscure. Their platform grows after their success, but most successful people have a platform from which to share ideas, and a community around which those ideas hold weight. Watch the video.

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  • lance02

    I have to agree completely with you. It's taken time and effort, but having that platform and community is so key to me being where I am today. And while I think I'm only touching upon the tip of the iceberg, I also believe that when that “success” strikes, I'll have an army of people willing to help and support me. And that's because of the work up front….and work that matters deeply to me – building these connections is not only such a great factor towards attaining success, it's also deeply meaningful to me on so many levels.

  • Sarge

    This is a great reason for people to start blogging NOW. It can be a personal blog, a blog about all your interets – ANYTHING. If you get yourself out there and start a community now, when you're ready to really focus on a specific niche or a new project you will have already made connections with people to kick-start your new project into a positive direction.

    This is the number 1 thing I have learnt from starting my blog, which started out just being an experiment and testing the blogging waters – COMMUNITY. The insane amount of connects I have made over the last few months is incredible.

    So if anyone is still procrastinating getting themselves out there – just start now, focus on building a community. Oh, and listen to Chris Brogan! :)

    Sarge |

  • anthonygaleano

    Chris, you are right about that. Its very important for you to come out of the old school enviroment and go into the social media world without fear. This is where everyone is today. There is no other way to do business. You need to build relations with your customers, clients, friends, followers and potential new people that are all over the web looking for you. Were are you today? I have notice that in my own business, is no longer about who you know, and more about how social you are online. Buidl your presence. Twitter, facebook, blog, youtube, and more. get connected!

    Anthony Galeano.

  • Chuck

    I disagree with this. There are a ton of successes who lack a platform or a community. There are also plenty who have these two things but only as a result of success.

    I think it's dangerous to set up having a pulpit and a community as a prerequisite for building something or doing something of value because that's already the temptation for many people.

  • drireneblinston

    Chuck, there may be some areas of success-seeking for which an established platform is not a prerequisite, but I can tell you it does not exist in the publishing world. I have a Ph.D. and am the only person to write the book I am working on, because it is based on my unique research for which I am the expert. Still, a publishing company wants to know to whom “I” can sell this book. They want to see an established platform beyond small regional areas. So, I use social media and have started a blog along with getting out and doing talks, being a guest on radio and television, and everything and anything else that will build my platform. Without getting these platform building endeavors started, my chances of getting picked up by a large or even medium sized publishing house are very slim.

  • Bettina de Perez

    Greetings Chris,

    Thank you for this concept. I agree! One's present network of professional relationships, and a well-established corporate or brand identity are the solid foundation upon which to comfortably build that community outward. Acknowledging fully the thrilling potential, and proven power of these tools of social media, – it's still about people. One's ultimate success will still come through time-tested relationships forged through collaboration, – and the trust that is built through those shared struggles and triumphs. Launching a larger presence from that place ensures that the adventure of exploring this new territory is grounded in those strengths.
    Skills honed at the micro – serve one well at the macro.

    All the best to you!

    Bettina De Perez

  • Annemieke

    “A big giant campfire to gather around.”

    I love that metaphore. But we would really need some music there!

  • jeffcutler

    Good points on having the established foundation from which to speak, but I think it sways a little to a chicken/egg argument or discussion.

    Without some knowledge, hard work and experience, your platform and your community isn't going to exist.

    For example, those people who are now the experts in this field began their work before there was a field to be an expert of. The early adopters for instance. They weren't even communicators for the most part, just techies who saw the shiny things from which to share their messages.

    Now we've got myriad communities and more platforms than we can identify.

    As with anything, the quality will rise from obscurity and then the community will follow. Reading back, maybe having the platform is more necessary early on and the community is the result.

    Regardless, thanks for making me do some thinking on this chilly Sunday in Boston.



  • Deborah Esch

    Hey Chris, here's me being everywhere I need to be :-) I like your emphasis on working to establisht the platform before you need it. The order of things is all important, no?

  • DianeCorriette

    Very true post! I have a friend who trains in building networks and he always says “build your network before you need it so when you need your network you have it”
    That is very similar – it is all about building your online audience and then offering them what you know.

  • Chuck Smith


    It sounds like the Harvey McKay advice “Dig your well before your thirsty.” That sounds like pretty solid advice to me.

    When I was reading your article on the Amex site about your first year in business, my thought was what if he didn't already have a community?

    Currently I am working with a client who is under capitalized. Not only do they not have enough working cash as capital, they do not have any social capital either. This was my take away from combining the two articles.

    1. Social capital can reduce the need for financial capital in some cases. Particularly in a coaching/consulting centric business.

    2. If you build social capital early, you can as you have written before, be at the elbow of deals and just provide value. That is a far different experience than trying to build it in a desperate attempt to monetize it.

  • bistrobroad

    rethinking my platform now, thanks. do you ever sleep?

  • Denny Sugar

    Good point Chris, but I think you are over emphasizing “build” when many of us (you included) often “borrow” communities and platforms from others. Whether it be guest blog posts, email lists, etc. – the fastest way to a large audience is to use someone else's – wouldn't you agree?

    The bonus is that obviously your audience will “build” as a result – just much faster than slogging it out on your own. Would love to hear more of your thoughts on that growth strategy.

    btw- really liking the new @broganmedia channel, much easier for me to follow.

  • julianna01

    Chuck Smith-

    Your points underscore Chris' points. 9 hour ago Chuck says platform comes later and Jeff says this a bit of chicken and an egg issue.

    I go with it comes from relationships. Build them as you are on your way to your expert status. Create your community as you learn and grow. Waiting until there is a PhD before you start talking about your area of interest will leave you tongue tied in the time of need.

    All good stuff. Great discussion.

  • bkjrecruiter

    I will bring the smores, great video/comments/conent…

    What is you biggest accomplishment thus far?



  • Eric Goldman

    Another interesting post, Chris. Thanks.
    I think the idea is a good one if you know what your field of expertise is. You can't bait and switch: you can't start off talking about sailing because that's your passion, and then shift the conversation around to marketing when you pick that as your field of expertise. I’d follow you, because I share a passion for both sailing and marketing, but even the most enthusiastic sailor won’t read your blog on marketing if he’s an engineer who thinks marketing is snake-oil.
    In these cases, where you are still trying to find the subject on which to build your platform, it will be, as Jeff Cutler said, the chicken and egg problem. These cases are like the Field of Dreams. You have to build it your platform on faith, show up every day and speak to your audience (even if it’s just to no-one to begin with), work on getting the message out the people in your chosen field, and then they will start showing up to hear you.
    And here’s a thought. The conversations on Twitter and Facebook from within B2B organizations are not social in nature: we’re doing this to make money (and have fun, sure, but the connection is formed for a business reason). Would we be better off naming this increasingly important business tool something different? SocBiz media? Business Media?

  • John Paul

    Being a great party host, is bringing people together, sharing stories, making new connections, friendships and having fun.

    Making it a place people look forward to visiting again, now do this with your blog and you are set.

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  • Anne Sauve

    Great point, Chris. I think it is an example of common sense thinking that people often forget, whether in social or traditional media, or whatever…that there are things you need to do as part of the journey of “getting there” – without which you will not succeed. I think these are often called critical success factors. I think the point you make is that if you don't do the basics to pave the way, you won't get what you're looking for?

  • mauryb

    Chris, I partially agree with what you are saying and believe that one should look at syncing the growth curve of ones platform with future plans. I started exploring social medial last year, took baby steps at growing a platform and realized that I was not ready to support a platform at the time and to continue creating the products I plan to start launching the beginning of next year.

    The exercise did give me an insight into how the whole thing works and gave me insights on how I might put it all together in a creative application for my needs.

    The frustrations I found is the ever changing software applications I was using. I was trying to be to creative and pushing things to the limit, this definitely made it more difficult but helps me create uniqueness in many ways. With momentum on my main products I believe I will be able to get the support to overcome all the other issues which come up and build a solid platform.

    I will not have the big explosion in to the market I might have had if I kept working on my platform but actually prefer a steady exponential growth which requires starting smaller. Google as an example does not even contact their customer base when they launch new products. For many of their products one needs an invitation which is often hard to find.

  • prosperitygal

    Chris you continue to do us proud. Starting last year this time I started talking to my tribe with my radio show and it has been a HUGE blessing. Besides meeting great authors, speakers and bloggers it has afforded me a fabulous way to connect to my client base and help them improve their visibility.

    I am forever grateful of the connections I have made by validating others first.

  • Dave Doolin

    I'm with you Dr Irene. My PhD is in Civil Engineering, from Berkeley, and I neglected to “build my platform” while in graduate school. I was “too busy” writing really cool code, going surfing, etc.

    I believed that acquiring the credential was the most important matter of all.

    As it turns out, formal credentials are becoming less and less important. And they aren't important at all in a tech career.

  • Dave Doolin

    I concur. I have the PhD and no community. Working overtime to make up for that now.

  • Dave Doolin

    I really like the “campfire” analogy.

    Since I've neglected building this community or network in the past, I'm having to work overtime to make up for it now.

  • julieannejones

    This is the single greatest shift I made in my business this past year, Chris. I figured out who my community was (target market as well as colleagues) and found out where they were “hanging out” (predominantly on Facebook and Twitter), and then learned a strategy for meeting and building a relationship with them (being active on those two platforms as well as blogging). It has made this the best year ever in my business and set me up for huge growth in 2010. Thanks so much for all you'e taught me!

  • Kris Roxas

    Lol, I sure building myself a platform =) It's kind of hard since I like to go out, but I'm still trying!

  • EvaUlian

    Do you remember that smash hit song: “I knew Jesus, before he was a super star”- this post is what it's all about. I thoroughly believe in this.

  • TimFlaherty

    great idea..develop your platform in a custom/unique enviroment and build the community..that is what we are doing at step by step…this article is a great thing to think about every day in web development

  • sethharwood

    Hey Chris,
    Why are you in your car?


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  • shaunhenriques

    I have read the article based on the Success and the stages to gain it.I like the video which fully demonstrates the vision of the success.It is not always true about the Overnight success.If it planned to be achieve, then the hurdles can be passes through and the person can get success in many ways.

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  • transmetteur fm

    I first heard the word “platform” used in this way from Steve Harrison on how to become a best-selling author. Writing the book was only the beginning. You must learn to build a platform, offering related content in many forms (e.g., seminars, speaking engagements, courses, videos, games).

    Youve shown it also involves building a foundation. Many get discouraged because at this stage: they don't see results yet. Perseverance is critical and will pay off big time later. Im counting on it.

  • Donna L. Johnson

    Thanks for reaffirming what I've struggled with in the past. I started blogging and fell victim to those telling me there was a right/wrong way to do it. Lesson learned. I've tightened up my branding and am looking forward to giving it a go again in 2010.

  • RM – InBoundMarketingPR

    Excellent job Chris.. I totally agree with you that “communities” need to be built in order to grow at a faster rate that other successful companies grow.. If you have your platforms & communities growing, the rest is so much easier!

    Nice work!

    RM – InBoundMarketingPR

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  • Dwayne-Tini

    Personal and business platforms are critical in the new world. Microsoft and Apple are very successful business platform companies. Frankly, is great example of the new hybrid personal/business platform of the future.

  • krabil57

    Love your “campfire” metaphor, Chris. You are right on about the relationship piece. We reap what we sow. When we sow into the lives of others, we reap the benefits of friendship and trust.

  • Tre

    so long as the platforming is built authentically…but then even sayin that I'm cringing. We all know when someone's in our face w/ a hidden agenda. It just has a way of oozing out. So I'd ask back how's building platform (prep stages) any diff from building heart to heart real relationships? Methinks you master that latter and you're all set. (This from a geek who is rock bottom low on real time live events and must get her act together). ;)

  • Tre

    so long as the platforming is built authentically…but then even sayin that I'm cringing. We all know when someone's in our face w/ a hidden agenda. It just has a way of oozing out. So I'd ask back how's building platform (prep stages) any diff from building heart to heart real relationships? Methinks you master that latter and you're all set. (This from a geek who is rock bottom low on real time live events and must get her act together). ;)

  • Jerry Reed

    Chris, How do we follow you the most productive way. I save your daily posts and try to read them. They stack up. I try to print them out and I print reams of paper. Each posts printout has all of the comments. If I print them I loose the links where I could have clicked on and gotten further information. Do we just take the time each day and read them? Again how would you suggest we follow your posts. I have learned a lot but there must be a better way. You have been a lot of help as I struggle to learn all about Media. Saw you at Chapman University in Orange, Calif.

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  • usb flash drive

    It took time and effort, but getting the platform and community to me being where I am today is important. And while I think I'm only touching the tip of the iceberg, I also believe that “success” attacks, I helped an army of people ready and will support me. And before that …. And work that matters deeply to me because of work – not only achieve success by building these connections on such a great factor, it also deeply meaningful to me on so many levels.

  • yuregininsesi

    Youve shown it also involves building a foundation. Many get discouraged because at this stage: they don't see results yet. Perseverance is critical and will pay off big time later. Im counting on it.

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