The Business of Belonging Book Summary - The Business of Belonging Book explained in key points
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The Business of Belonging summary

David Spinks

How to Build Communities that Grow the Bottom Line

4.5 (86 ratings)
27 mins

Brief summary

The Business of Belonging by David Spinks is a guide for building inclusive communities at work. It explains how diversity and a sense of belonging can improve team performance and business success.

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    The Business of Belonging
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    Building a community can give your business a competitive advantage.

    Community. It’s a hot topic right now – all sorts of businesses are talking about creating communities of users. But what are the actual benefits?

    Author David Spinks has been deeply involved in communities since before his career even began. When he was a teenager, he ran an online community for players of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 4, a skateboarding video game, and found himself taking it quite seriously.

    Later, he realized that his passion for online community married perfectly with his interest in business. He eventually launched CMX, a networking platform for community professionals – and hasn’t looked back since.

    Communities aren’t just online phenomena. Spinks’s own CMX platform, for instance, has many online components but also hosts a yearly in-person summit. (At least when there isn’t a global pandemic.) But – surprise, surprise – it was personal computers that prompted the rise of virtual communities. In fact – and this probably won’t shock you either – the company at the forefront of community-building was Apple.

    Let’s go back to 1985. Apple is pivoting to the Mac, but its users are confused by the new product. They’ve grown used to its predecessor, the Apple II. So they write letters (remember, it’s 1985) to Ellen Petry Leanse, Apple’s communications specialist. Leanse eventually spots something weird about these letters: a lot of them feature a mysterious code. She’s amazed to discover that they’re online access codes. 

    That’s right – as early as 1985, Apple users were gathering online to discuss and solve their tech problems, completely independently of Apple! Here’s the thing: Back then, businesses didn’t care very much about users. Once you’d bought a product and leafed through the instruction manual, you were on your own. Customer support was little more than an annoyance to businesses. Customers were a cost, not a benefit.

    But Leanse realized there was an opportunity here. So she set up the Apple User Group Connection, making the online community official. She took the users’ feedback seriously, and she shared updates with them.

    Guess what? This move was good for both the users and the business. Apple’s support costs dropped, and customers ended up spending more and staying loyal.

    Plenty of online communities still give companies competitive advantages in exactly that way – just think of Salesforce’s famous Trailblazer community of users helping and teaching each other about the product.

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    What is The Business of Belonging about?

    The Business of Belonging (2021) explores how businesses can harness the power of online communities for the benefit of both themselves and their customers.

    Who should read The Business of Belonging?

    • Community professionals seeking to hone their craft
    • Businesspeople who’d like to tap into the power of community
    • Marketeers on the lookout for new approaches

    About the Author

    David Spinks cofounded CMX, a network for community professionals that has over 20,000 members. He is also Vice President of Community at the enterprise software platform Bevy, which acquired CMX in 2019.

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