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Do you have a large email list? If so, that’s where your community lives and it’s time to start thinking of them as the community they are.

They are not simply people waiting to hear whatever content you push to them, they are your fans, your customers, and the foundation for your business. Even more, they are people and the more you work on building a relationship with them, the more your business will thrive for it.

However, since an email community is different than the more common places where communities live such as forums, Facebook, Twitter, etc, I wanted to give you some advice for making the most of your email list.

Here’s how to treat your email list like a community:

Write About Them. Your email list can include a shoutout area for your readers to share their struggles, ask for advice, or talk about their breakthroughs. When you give them space to share you open it up to let them build more relationships.

Hold Events. You can have a webinar, a Facebook live, a Twitter chat, or a Hangout on Google. These events can be regular, such as once a month, and can feature other readers from your email list sharing their expertise.

For example, one of my favorite coaches is Jenn Scalia, she has a phenomenal Facebook group, email list, etc, she knows several wonderful coaches who specialize in different areas and sometimes she tells her community about them, what a wonderful way for us all to learn about other coaches and possibly share our own businesses someday.

Share A Calendar of Events & News. There’s plenty of space in your newsletter to share upcoming events, allow members to submit their events (your approval is necessary) for the newsletter.

Offer A Place To Followup Online. If you don’t have a site or Facebook group you can offer a Twitter hashtag for your community to connect. When you do this, ask people to share their comments, points of view, and favorite links with the hashtag, announce this in your newsletter and follow up by sharing in future editions what people have said.

Why Have An Email Community Instead Of A List?

It’s actually really simple, when you sign up for an email list and you receive newsletters all about the writer, it just isn’t as fun, engaging, or inclusive as when you join a group and actually get to connect with the owner and others they value.

Think of it this way. Would you rather be invited to join Steve Job’s personal email list or get invited to a Facebook group of his closest business confidants you can connect with? Simple choice, right?

Now offer that choice to your readers. I guarantee they are hoping to connect with you more, and build important relationships for their businesses and lives, give them the opportunity to do that with you and they’ll stick around a lot longer.

As a reminder, think of what you’d like to get out of following someone online, and when you can provide that to your followers, they’ll appreciate it, and the results will speak for themselves.