Alright friend, this is it! The moment of truth. Now it's time to invite your first person into the tribe, and start thinking about how you'll invite people in the future.
However, I urge you not to rush into this.
As much as you might be tempted to start inviting people as quickly as possible, remember, there are a few important criteria people should meet before you consider extending an invitation.
You can see yourself being lifelong friends with this person
They're aligned with the vision and values of the tribe
You've worked with them on at least one project
Once you've got someone who matches this set of criteria, then it's time to invite them. Here are some guidelines to help.
Inviting your first tribe member
The first person you invite into the tribe is going to require a unique approach compared to how you'll invite people in the future.
Once your tribe has a two or more members, the process of inviting new people should be democratic and decided by everybody. But for your first member, you'll have to take a different approach.
So here's what I recommend.
Ideally the first person you invite into the tribe is already a friend. You want it to be someone you've worked with at least once, but preferably multiple times. And you want it someone you're genuinely comfortable sharing ideas with.
That's because inviting your first member is going to require a fairly deep conversation.
Now, you can absolutely have this conversation with someone you've only recently met through your networking efforts. But it's going to be easier, and probably go more smoothly, if you're with someone who you trust and who understands you.
So with that said, here's what needs to happen in this initial conversation.
The "founding member" conversation
Your goal with this conversation is to get your first potential tribe member insanely excited about the prospect of starting this thing with you and getting it off the ground.
Basically, you want to present this as an opportunity be a founding member of something amazing with you, not join something you’ve already started.
After all, it's not actually a tribe until there's more than one person involved, so whoever you invite first will be a founding member right alongside you.
So here are a few guidelines and suggestions for how to have a conversation that accomplishes this.
Explain the idea of a tribe.
The concept of a tribe is going to be foreign to a lot of people. So start by explaining that it's essentially a local filmmaking collective, but more tight-knit and more unified around the pursuit of a larger vision.
Explain the purpose/value proposition.
Why does the tribe exist? What problem is it going to solve for its members? What is the big picture vision that you're shooting for, and how will working together with a group of likeminded people aid in achieving that goal?
But more than just explaining why it exists, be sure to share the big picture benefits that the tribe will provide. Remember the "value proposition" you put together in an earlier lesson? This is the time to use it!
Talk about never having to worry about finding great collaborators again. Talk about the potential for sharing resources. Talk about the potential for growing the tribe into a business and a fixture in the local community (if that's something that interests you). Whatever's going to excite your potential tribe members most, tell them about it.
Make it clear what being a member means.
At this point in the conversation, the person you're talking to should be pretty stoked. This is where you make it real, and bring the conversation back down to earth.
The goal here is to paint a realistic portrait of what it will mean to be a member. What are the expectations and responsibilities that come with membership? How will members support each other's well being? What will members have to sacrifice in order for the tribe to function symbiotically and move towards the big picture vision?
These are tough questions, but I'm a firm believer in the idea that joining something like this comes with plenty of benefits, but also plenty of responsibility. And people need to understand the weight of that responsibility before they join.
Please note, you shouldn't be demanding and dictatorial about this, especially not with your first potential tribe member.
You're co-creating the tribe, so you could say something like... "I think for this tribe to really work like we want it to, we're all going to have to pledge that we'll give as much value as we receive, and work on the projects of other members as much as we can. Do you agree?"
By making this a back and forth conversation about responsibilities, you get mutual buy-in instead of the other person feeling like you're shoving these ideas down their throat. That's important, because all members, especially the first ones, need to feel a sense of ownership over the tribe and direction it goes in the future.
The moment of truth
After all of that, it's time for the moment of truth... the moment when you'll ask this person if they're in.
Although, before you do that, you should make note of their demeanor and body language and overall level of enthusiasm. If they're clearly excited and open to everything you're talking about, make the ask. However, if their body language is closed off, skeptical, or it's clear they're not fully on board, hold off on the ask for the time being.
In the latter scenario, it's a good idea to ask them what they think about the whole proposition. Figure out what objections they might have, and address them before asking them if they'd like to join.
If they do have objections, you'll want to make note of them somewhere. Chances are, more people will have the same objections in the future, so you'll want to find ways to address those objections in your future pitches.
If your first potential tribe member says "hell yeah" then congrats! You've officially got yourself a tribe, and now it's time to celebrate.
And by celebrate, I really do mean celebrate. As we'll cover in the next section, it should feel like a celebration when people join the tribe. They should feel a sense of elation about the fact they just became a member, and they should feel like they belong to something awesome now.
By celebrating (with food or beer or games or anything fun), you can help create those feelings, and you'll immediately reinforce that your tribe is an amazing place to be.
So start early, and find a way to really celebrate this first person joining the tribe. But know, this is just the beginning of something great.
Building a process for inviting future members
Like I mentioned earlier, inviting your first member is a bit different than how you'll invite members in the future.
And as much as I want to tell you exactly how to go about it, all I can offer here is a set of guidelines. Truth is, you'll have to work with your tribe member(s) to figure out a process that everybody's comfortable with.
That said, here are some best practices when it comes to inviting new members into an existing tribe with a few members.
Work with all new potential members (if possible)
Like with your first member, it's important for everyone in the tribe to work with new potential members before they join. There are just so many things you can learn about someone from working with them on a film that you can't learn any other way.
Again, this is where micro films really shine. With a tribe of even just a few members, it's not a stretch to say you could put together a new micro film every month or every other month, even if you're just working on them on nights and weekends. Such is the power of working with a group of people dedicated to a vision.
Anyhow, I recommend using micro films as a way to "audition" potential members. You can work with them over the course of a few days (or even just one day), and you'll learn whether they're a good fit for the tribe.
Now, as your tribe grows, this is going to become increasingly more of a logistical challenge. So at a certain point, you'll have to be ok with adding new people that have only worked with a handful of tribe members. In that case, it's still a good idea for the potential tribe member to have met everyone in the tribe. So perhaps invite them to tribe events so they can meet everyone.
Have a member handbook
Like before, it's essential that new members know exactly what they're getting themselves into by joining the tribe. And while you can do that with a simple conversation for your first few new members, eventually you'll want a way to share this information more broadly.
And that's where a "member handbook" comes in.
This doesn't have to be anything fancy or super official. It could be the main points of tribe membership outlined in a google doc. It just needs to outline what the tribe is, the vision and values of the tribe, as well as the responsibilities and expectations of members.
The goal for this document is to attract likeminded people, and repel people who aren't a good fit. Because by becoming a member, people agree to abide operate by the principles outlined that document. It's not a formal contract, but it's still a meaningful transaction where people are forced to make a “yes or no” decision about whether they want to be part of this thing.
Now, as you get more advanced with your tribe, you might consider putting up the member handbook on the tribe's website (more about that in a future lesson). But for now, just a simple document will do.
Celebrate new members mightily
Like I mentioned before, crossing the threshold and becoming a member should feel like a special and joyous event.
So when people are officially accepted into the tribe, make sure to celebrate somehow, even if it's just food and drinks. That kind of communal fun will kick every new member's experience off in the best way possible, and make them feel like they made a great decision in joining the tribe.
Alright, so those are my guidelines on inviting new members into your tribe. Next up, we're going to talk about nurturing your tribe and keep it engaged. Onwards!
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