Building Community & Connections with Michelle Vroom

November 29, 2021

Hello hello, welcome to this week’s episode of The Ambitious Introvert. Today we’re talking about something that’s close to my heart as an introverted business owner – building community and relationships. My guest today is Michelle Vroom, marketing coach and podcast host. Michelle has more than 15 years of marketing and PR experience which she uses to help small business owners grow their businesses on their own terms. 

Michelle and I discuss:

  • Relationship and community building vs. creating new leads 
  • The importance of a support system as a business owner
  • Gentle, introvert friendly ways to build your online community
  • How human connection will help you stand out online

Michelle helps business coaches and marketing strategists reach their first $100k and beyond without the fluff. Learn how you can work with her here.

Michelle’s book recommendation for the Ambitious Introvert:

Start with Why by Simon Sinek

Connect with Michelle:

Connect with Me:

Click here for a raw, unedited transcript of this episode

[00:00:00] Emma-Louise Parkes: Michelle. Hi, thanks for joining me today. 

[00:00:08] Michelle Vroom: Thank you for having me. I’m excited to be. 

[00:00:11] Emma-Louise Parkes: So, what I really love about what you talked about so much online is this community and relationship aspect, because we see so much of like how to get leads and how to convert people on that. Like very masculine, which obviously there is a place for we’re running businesses.

But I think what struck me most about your message and I know a lot of my audience will agree is. The term community that feels really nice. That feels really supportive. 

[00:00:42] Michelle Vroom: Yeah, absolutely. It has a completely different feel than the, to your point, masculine energy around like, get those leads. Like I got a thousand leads, you know, in, in 24 hours, that feels very much like you in a place of just grabbing what you can get.

And I think that leads a lot of people down, an interesting path where marketing turns into. Chore or this burden versus something that can be really, really fun. And when you have a community of people who want what you have to offer, who are like-minded people, um, there’s something to be said for that.

And I think that can be just sort of like a breath of fresh air for entrepreneurs who feel like they’ve been in a place where they. I have to force things. I think that’s the bet. The biggest thing I would say about that. Yeah. I, I 

[00:01:31] Emma-Louise Parkes: feel you, I tried that early on in my business and it was not the right way to go.

So before we really dig into this and share with my audience a little bit more about your background and how you came to be helping big hearted entrepreneurs with their marketing. 

[00:01:47] Michelle Vroom: Absolutely. So I’ve been in business a little over five years. Um, I started my business when my oldest, I have three boys at home when my oldest, um, was six months old and having, you know, I always wanted to be an entrepreneur, but having a child really sort of accelerated that dream, it was something that I thought I would do.

Maybe when I was in my fifties and the kids were out of the house, like, I’m not really sure why that was my original timeline. Um, but thank God I didn’t like go with that. Right. I really just decided, you know what? My life has changed. I’m a mom now. I don’t feel like I want to continue commuting back and forth.

I have a different lifestyle that I would want to leave and I still want my identity. A business owner, right. As somebody with a career. And so I took that leap of faith. I’ve started my business. It was definitely a very scary thing. Um, it still is scary sometimes by the way, I don’t think that fear ever completely goes away and you know, I, I started it and since then, it’s just evolved.

I didn’t start out coaching. I started out doing full service marketing and then became a coach about a year and a half or so. Into business have added two more children since then, because apparently I love chaos and here we are, you know, and, uh, you know, it just, it, it was like a seed had been planted.

And then as soon as I had a child, like, it just, it might, my entire timeline changed. I couldn’t let go of that dream. And that desire that I had inside of myself for running a business for building something that’s my own from the ground. Well, 

[00:03:23] Emma-Louise Parkes: I’m glad that you didn’t wait until you’re in your fifties 

[00:03:25] Michelle Vroom: because obviously we wouldn’t be hit today.

Right. I’d still be 15 years out from my timeline. So I’m glad I didn’t wait either. 

[00:03:32] Emma-Louise Parkes: I remember I thought about, I had my coaching business as like a sideline. I was doing life coach and, you know, very full, hourly rate in a very kind of small, and I thought about bringing it online for about four years before I took the leap.

And I kept saying, I’ll just wait until I retire. And it seemed like I’ll just wait. I’ll just like see out my corporate Cornell retire at 55 and that’s fine. I’ll do it then. And then I kept thinking that’s a really long time. I don’t think I can cope for that long. And then they changed the retirement age to 57, so it added another two years on it and I kept.

No, I know I need to do this sooner. It’s funny when you get that pool of just like, I 

[00:04:16] Michelle Vroom: need to do this code away, put it away. 

[00:04:19] Emma-Louise Parkes: So obviously coming from like a full market and service background, as you started your business, um, what did you see that was needed in the online space that made you transition into coach?

[00:04:32] Michelle Vroom: Okay. Yeah. I saw specifically among the women business owners. So when I first started my business, I was not just targeting women. It was kind of whoever I could get to be totally honest. And when I started like feeling that desire to help women build this. I was looking at, um, you know, what I was hearing from the different women that I was in contact with, from women that were in other Facebook groups.

That’s where I made a lot of my initial connections. And I was realizing that they didn’t need someone to come in and do their marketing for them. They didn’t need someone to come in. You know, help them run their business per se. They needed somebody to come alongside of them and sort of like, like rally around them, like give them the tips and the ideas to help like get themselves out there, but then also give them the confidence and the courage.

To be able to put themselves out there in the first place. And so when I started realizing that they more so needed a partner, somebody to do it kind of with them, um, that changed a lot of things, for sure. That changed a lot of things. And that’s when I started shifting into coaching, 

[00:05:35] Emma-Louise Parkes: I think that done with you services now are so popular and rightly so, because I think there’s so much information.

Yeah. And like you say, people just don’t go and implement it. But when you’ve met someone, that’s an expert. The thing that you’re not, you know, they’re in their zone of genius, which isn’t yours, but you’re almost like a collaboration working alongside them. 

[00:05:57] Michelle Vroom: So powerful. Absolutely people. Yeah. People need that support system.

And to be honest with you, um, most of my clients have great ideas, right? Like it’s not about them. Not necessarily knowing what to do. It’s about them. Maybe not knowing what to do in what order, like prioritizing and maximizing their time. I work with a lot of busy moms like myself. Um, and then it’s also about them needing that accountability, because if we’re totally totally honest, we do not push ourselves.

As hard as we could on our own, right? Like we let the beliefs and the self doubt come into play. And that’s when we start to pull back. And sometimes we don’t even realize that we’re pulling back and having a coach, somebody who can come alongside of you and kind of call you out on your BS, but also challenge you and see maybe where you are holding yourself.

That is so incredibly powerful. And once I had a coach for myself, like that also opened up doors for me to see an experience in real time, what coaching was like, and that fueled the desire to coach as well. Like 

[00:07:03] Emma-Louise Parkes: when you’re in the jaw, you can’t read the label. Like they always say you’re close to it 

[00:07:08] Michelle Vroom: and what you 

[00:07:09] Emma-Louise Parkes: are.

It, you just, I don’t know. It’s like not being able to see the woods for the trees. Right. Where, and it’s the emotion because you’re emotionally attached to your business. Your 

[00:07:18] Michelle Vroom: business is like a baby, right? It’s like a child. I feel like I have three boys and then a fourth kid, which is my business. Is that 

[00:07:27] Emma-Louise Parkes: business male or female?

Yeah, I 

[00:07:37] Michelle Vroom: love it. Let me know what day you’re asking 

[00:07:41] Emma-Louise Parkes: on a Monday morning. 

[00:07:43] Michelle Vroom: Right? Right. 

[00:07:45] Emma-Louise Parkes: So for anyone listening, that’s thinking great. So this is me. I’ve got this big idea and I know what I want, but marketing. Mike scares the hell out of me. I don’t know what to do. I’m more of an, of, like you said, I, I, I don’t want to go out hunting for leads because this feels like really awful.

What are a few kind of gentle ways I’m going to say that still provide results that they can go about building their own online communities? 

[00:08:11] Michelle Vroom: Yeah. So, um, I work with, with many, many, many introverts. I think that there’s a lot of pressure, number one, that people put on themselves to do it the way that everyone else is saying to do it.

Um, I never advocate for just randomly cold. The somebody’s like sending a cold diem. Hey, Hey girl, how are you? Not, yeah, the Hey girl message. I do not advocate for that. Even if you heard an introvert, right? Like even if we were talking about extroverts here, I still wouldn’t advocate for that because that’s not the way of the world relationships still matter.

I don’t care what fancy. You know, tools or automation come into play, like relationships still matter. People want to be seen, they want to be heard. They want to feel like, um, you see them right. That there’s something personalized here. And so I think a couple of, of gentler ways and ways that I, I always recommend are really just taking the.

Taking almost taking your business out of it for a second and focusing on just getting to know somebody else, like, yes, we need to go out and find where our people are. I think everybody has heard that to some level, but when you go into let’s use an example, another Facebook group, right? Like if you’re trying to make connections in a Facebook group and you have the pressure of, well, I need to get a client now, or I need to get a sale now, then you are going to do or try to do.

Tactics or activities or take steps that feel really, really uncomfortable for you. And so I think if you can remove just first and foremost, the like business aspect and just view these people as humans, as, as connections, and maybe even looking for, um, you know, common. I think things that you might have in common that are outside of business.

Like if I see somebody post another Facebook group, who’s also a boy mom, I’m going to lead with that connection because it feels way more genuine than me being like, oh, how can I get them to talk about their business? Or how can I get them to book a call with me? Like it’s too much right away. And so maybe even just removing that, that business side for a second and looking at them as human to human as somebody that you, you know, might run into in the real world.

I think that changes things for a lot of people and that can, that can remove some of the pressure. So that’s the first thing I would definitely recommend. Um, I think another thing I would recommend or is literally looking at. Who are you already connected to in your personal network? When we start our businesses, I think we believe that we have to keep business and our personal network completely separate.

And to some degree that might be true for some people. Right. But when you think about all of the people that you are connected to, whether through friends, family, Old co-workers whatever you have so many connections, those people all know other people and are connected to many people in their lives. And so thinking about how you can really tap into, um, the network that you’ve already built for yourself can be really encouraging for people who feel maybe nervous about showing up and connecting with new people.

I mean, that’s how I got my first. Like long-term client was literally just posting on my Facebook profile. Hey guys, I started my business. Right. And that might be scary for some people. Some people listening may not have even taken that step. Right. Um, but Hey, I started my business check out my website and I had somebody message me who was, um, you know, a professional contact that I had in the area was going on maternity, leave.

Her company needed somebody to come in freelance and backfill her her spot while she was at. And that led to like a two-year client relationship. So again, like, who are you already connected to? Do you really have to recreate the wheel every single day? I’ll stop there. There’s always more I can share, but that was a lot.

[00:12:02] Emma-Louise Parkes: I, what I loved about what you said though, is quite a lot of my clients work with corporates. Um, whether it’s, you know, employees or employers and they’ve come from that corporate background and they feel like 

[00:12:13] Michelle Vroom: they come from corporate as well. So I get it. 

[00:12:16] Emma-Louise Parkes: So they have these great LinkedIn profiles. Like I didn’t start LinkedIn.

Last year when I started, you know, really went serious with my business, but they have thousands of connections on LinkedIn that are in exactly what they are doing, but they’ve just shifted, you know, they’re not an employee anymore. They’ve now got their own business consultant or mentor and or whatever they do.

And I’ll say. Go there, go to the people that you’ve worked with previously go to late, your old colleagues, you’re all Bhaskar because you’ve got all these people. And there is often a little bit of resistance, but almost everyone has ended up signing a client or get on a call with someone because someone recommended them 

[00:12:56] Michelle Vroom: percent, thousand percent.

And I think the resistance that you’re mentioning. It’s very real. And I think that some of that comes from the fact that our businesses are personal rights. So it almost feels like, well, wait, I can’t go back to the people who know the old me, I’m using quotes for those who don’t video it. But yeah, there’s no video, but I’m using quotes around that.

The old you like as if suddenly you are completely a different person, when you start your. And do you feel like a different person, but you’re actually not right. And I think we are afraid to let the people who knew the old us into this thing that we’re creating, because it does feel so, so personal. And it puts us in a vulnerable position.

But I have found that the people who knew the old us, right, they are so blown away by the step that you’ve taken by this thing that you’re doing. That’s so few people will ever do, like many people will have a dream to run a business and never get. And they’re impressed by it. Right? And so I think sometimes our preconceived ideas of what judgment people might have, like none of that actually happens really very rarely.

And oftentimes it’s the, it’s the judgment that we have against ourselves. And we’re thinking that everyone else is going to think the same way. When some of this, you need to look at like how you’re judging yourself. Right. And what you think others will believe. Yeah. And when 

[00:14:17] Emma-Louise Parkes: we build in an audience from scratch, which I did personally, cause I didn’t have social media presence at all, but when we build an audience from scratch, we’ve got to build that know like, and trust factor.

When you have an audience they’re already in a network, like you say, you already have that. So they already know who you are. They like you. And if you’re connected, hopefully they trust you. So when you go and say, Hey, I’m doing this now. Not only are they going to be like, impressed with that and think, wow, this is great, but they, they already trust.

[00:14:47] Michelle Vroom: Yeah. I come from a corporate, I worked for a health insurance company before I started like a global health insurance company before I started my business. And they hired me to do a couple of like one-off projects for them because they needed freelancers. They need additional people, they loved it. You know, it actually benefited them a ton.

So it’s all in the way you view it and the, and the way you choose to look at it. And so I guess, again, to make life easier and to go for what I call the low hanging fruit. Start with the community that you’ve already built in some form, even before you started your business. And then when you’re thinking about, you know, how do I connect with new people, go to where they are and remove the pressure of, I have to get them to do this and just focus on making that initial connection.

That’s what I did before I even started my own community. To be totally honest is just connect with people in other Facebook groups, have those conversations, find those areas of common ground. And it’s almost like the business side came second was like a follow-up to that 

[00:15:47] Emma-Louise Parkes: human first business. 

[00:15:48] Michelle Vroom: Second, always.


[00:15:50] Emma-Louise Parkes: exactly. So I only started marketing on Facebook last July, I think 2020. So. Yeah, quite new to it. Um, but I also utilized Facebook groups, which when I first went in, I was overwhelmed because I was a new person in the group and I just got spammed. I just got literally dozens of DMS each day because people were like, oh, new, oh, new person, you must be a new coach.

You must need help email all of this. And I was like, whoa, there’s literally people going, oh, Hey, I see you’re new here. So how’s your business.

I was really an owner say triggered, that’s the wrong word, but I was really upset. Like I tell you the first person that I friended on Facebook, someone requested me and I said, oh my God, I’ve got a friend. And it turned out to be bots. I was so disappointed. Um, but I remember being with this group and feeling like, is this it like every day?

Am I just going to get this constant barrage of in authentic copy and pasted, like, Hey girl messages. I wrote out and it was fine. And then, like you say, I started to realize that. Let’s just connect with people. So after a few months I reached out to maybe five or six people that I really enjoyed reading their content.

They just DND to them. And I was like, oh, look, I really like what you do. I just really love everything that you say. I just wanted to let you know. And those have turned into friendships. Nave turned into collaborations and they’ve tended to refer our partners, podcast guests, but it didn’t come from a place of, I’m going to message you and sell to you.

It just came from, let’s have a conversation. 

[00:17:31] Michelle Vroom: Exactly. And if more people had that perspective, like imagine what the online world would be like, because people would say, well, how do I stand out online? You stand out by being authentic because to your point, so many people are doing the exact opposite.

Hence all the messages you received when you started engaging in Facebook. 

[00:17:49] Emma-Louise Parkes: I was really horrified. I was like, first of all, the sensitive and me like, oh, do I have to reply to all of these? And my coach was like, allograft reply. You can just delete them. But it’s like, they might be upset if I don’t reply.

And she was like, oh no, she was like, don’t even check them. Like, if you don’t want to, don’t even check them, but we got a handle on it, but I think it’s so true. You know, whether it’s this market of send a hundred messages and someone might reply and, you know, get your leads and, and stuff. We’re looking at it from a more human point of view.

It may take longer to build relationships that way, but they so much more genuine and longterm. 

[00:18:26] Michelle Vroom: Yeah, absolutely. And there there’s validity to the whole, like when you get in front of a hundred people, you can expect to get, you know, at least one client, like there are, there are marketing conversion rates, but not by DM-ing cold people who you don’t even know really are even the right fit.

Right. We’re talking about if you, and this is what I teach. If you get a hundred people into your own community, whether that be a Facebook group, email, Instagram, whatever, right? If you get a hundred good people like meaning people who could actually, who, who fit the description of who your ideal client is, then you can expect to convert faster because those people have already in some form chosen to be in your world, chosen to be in your community.

That’s why building a community. And from my perspective is essential to running a business in 2018. 

[00:19:18] Emma-Louise Parkes: So for anyone listening, who is at that early stages and they think, you know, okay, so I’ve got my existing network that I can kind of re-introduce myself to with, with what I’m doing now, but they may be, don’t have an audience full of ideal, ideal clients yet, yet.

Where would you suggest that a good place to start? Would you say Facebook groups? 

[00:19:40] Michelle Vroom: Yes, I would. I would say Facebook groups. And the reason for that is because number one, even just engaging. In other Facebook groups, nets, you access to a huge audience. There are 1.8 billion people participating in Facebook groups and seven form.

Like it’s a huge market. Right? Um, and then Facebook groups themselves are being elevated by Facebook. Like content in groups is being prioritized in your newsfeed. So if you are even doing any marketing on. Like you’re already going to be there. Marketing. Why not make it work for you? Why not make your marketing work smarter, not harder by using a Facebook group to, um, build those relationships, bring in that steady stream of leads and get your content seen higher in the newsfeed.

[00:20:28] Emma-Louise Parkes: I love that stat because every so often the client will say, I don’t think my people they’re on 

[00:20:32] Michelle Vroom: Facebook. I know, especially people who target like maybe six figure business owners or seven figure business owners. They’re on Facebook. They’re, they’re not using it maybe in the same way, but they’re on Facebook.

I mean, I think with over to what would say that, that over two point, whatever billion people using the platform, I think it’s safe to say, I think you have to make a case that your people aren’t on Facebook. Like that’s a harder case to make. Right. So hopefully 

[00:21:00] Emma-Louise Parkes: some of them will be done. Yeah. 

[00:21:03] Michelle Vroom: Right.


[00:21:05] Emma-Louise Parkes: Yeah, I do really enjoy Facebook groups. It’s been a great way for me to market my business, but make connections. Like I say, they’ve turned into not just clients, but friends and podcast guests. And it’s enabled me to grow my own group and to grow the podcast. I get a lot of podcast listeners because I post the show notes in other people’s groups.

[00:21:27] Michelle Vroom: Absolutely. Absolutely. And I’ll also say this, you know, it feels the sales process because you don’t have to sell we’re a business owner, right. You’d have to sell the sales process feels so much more authentic when you are selling inside of your own community. So even for those of you who maybe are spending a lot of time in other Facebook groups, I think when you don’t have your own group or you don’t have your own community, you put added pressure on yourself.

Because now you’re like, well, I got to get in front of the people. Yeah. The Facebook that someone else’s Facebook group where I lose them, if I don’t make that initial connection, I think that’s probably why you got a lot of DMS. Well, the Facebook group, like the other Facebook groups, somebody else’s group that’s for you just to establish that initial connection.

If you don’t have a place to bring them back to AKA your own Facebook group or whatever else that looks like, then you are going to feel a lot of pressure because you’re like, well, if I don’t get them now, I’m never going to see them again, potentially. Right. Or I missed the boat. That’s a lot of pressure to put on yourselves.

And I think that we need to make marketing simpler and a little more streamlined if you will. And I think this is one of the ways that you can do that. And you know, if you’re somebody who’s like, well, talking to people feel scary to me when it’s your own community, you call the shots, you get to design what that looks like.

And I think that that is a huge breath of fresh air for many of us. Exactly. 

[00:22:41] Emma-Louise Parkes: I adore my Facebook group. I plan to start it. I started it because I run a challenge. Yeah. 

[00:22:47] Michelle Vroom: That’s exactly how I started mine. Shut it down. After we shut a mine down, 

[00:22:54] Emma-Louise Parkes: I didn’t want to do the challenge. My coach was like, I challenge you to do a challenge because you might have clients that want to do a challenge.

It’s good. That you’ve dies like, okay. And then they kept the group open and get. I just love it. Like it’s the, that in my email list, the first place I go, if I’ve got spots open up and coaching, or if I’ve got a new product or service, that’s where I go to share it with those people first because they might community.

[00:23:19] Michelle Vroom: Yup. Yup. I’m same story. Same story started. My group was going to shut it down after I realized, wait, I love building relationships. What am I doing? Left it open. And thank God. Because it is just a client generating machine for me at this point, like you say, 

[00:23:34] Emma-Louise Parkes: we get to call the shots. So as it is, you know, I, for the longest time I didn’t do lives in my group, but I don’t have to because it’s my group.

So I get to, I get to do what I want and I get to post conversation starters, or I get to say, Hey, the group’s completely promo friendly. It’s like, it’s up to you when it’s your own space. 

[00:23:54] Michelle Vroom: Right? Exactly. 

[00:23:57] Emma-Louise Parkes: So Michelle, before I let you go, I’m going to ask you what to ask all of my guests. Would you please share your recommendation for a book that would help my audience in growing and scaling their online business?

[00:24:08] Michelle Vroom: Yeah. Um, I just read Simon, Sinek’s start with why. And I highly, highly, highly recommend it. Um, I recommend it for a lot of different reasons. I think it can help you just in business in general, but even in talking about a community, if you don’t have a sense of why you are doing your business in the first place, why you want to make this bigger impact.

Then your community, isn’t going to be what it could be, right. It’s not going to reach its full potential. And so this is something that was missing for my business for a while. And even reading the book just recently, it opens up even more doors for me in this next stage of business. Like what do I want my why to be like, why do I care about what I do?

Why am I doing what I do? I think this book also can help you get through the tough times in business, the time. You might want to let your business on fire and you’re not sure what’s going on or things feel really hard. Going back to that. Why that bigger, like yes, making money is great. But what, what, what are we making the money for?

Like where, where is this bigger impact? And that book really challenged me to find that. And I think that it’s going to be a great read for any of you, if you’ve read it before, even just rereading it again, um, because your why changes throughout businesses? And that’s something that I think, you know, going into this next phase of business, I really want to have anything clear or why I want my team to be on board with my why.

And I want that to be reflected in the community that I’m building. So highly, highly recommend this book. It’s amazing. 

[00:25:32] Emma-Louise Parkes: I love that. I haven’t read it for. Four or five years. So I should probably revisit something that I do first session with all my new one-on-one clients is vision, mission values. So same thing once that’s in place, because you’re going to have hard days, like we say, sometimes it’s hard running a business can be tough, but once you’ve got that Y and that vision, and you understand.

That’s the reason that you keep doing it, even when it feels tough or that’s the reason you do it when you know, it’s Monday morning and all of those things, because you’re so connected to that. Why that that’s, that’s more important 

[00:26:05] Michelle Vroom: than everything else. Agreed. Agreed. Yeah. Love it, 

[00:26:09] Emma-Louise Parkes: Michelle. Thank you so much for joining us today.

I’m going to pop all of your details in the show notes, where the listeners can head over and connect with you. And thank you for sharing your wisdom with us. 

[00:26:18] Michelle Vroom: Thank you for having me.