Culture is everything.
The internet can be an inhospitable place. Opening up about the challenges you face in your business can seem impossible.
That’s why we’ve made it our business to create a safe space and compassionate culture inside CoCommercial. We actively moderate our community space and coach our members to ensure that posts and comments follow our guidelines.
The result is a small business network that is full of positive (but not pollyanna) feedback, critical encouragement, generosity, honesty, and transparency.
Below, you’ll find the policies that we use to codify this culture. But at the heart of what makes the CoCommercial culture work is our members and their commitment to making the space as valuable as possible.
Be honest about what’s working for you, what’s not working for you, and the results you’re getting. Be honest about the support you’re seeking and the feedback you’re looking for. Be honest about the lessons you’ve learned along the way.
The internet isn’t algorithms, memes, and likes. It’s people. Take care, be compassionate, and remember the person behind the post. A personal touch goes a long way–and creates excellent business results, too.
Share how you do what you do whenever possible. Don’t shy away from the nitty-gritty details.
Take responsibility for finding the answers you need (even if they’re not what you expect them to be). Don’t cede your power to anyone who thinks they know what you should do. Gather the information and make your own decisions.
Share your experience, not advice. Share what’s worked for you, not what you think will work for someone else. Use others’ experiences as information you can use to make better decisions and take intentional action.
CoCommercial is designed to be a safe space for both unabashed celebrations of success and uncomfortable conversations among small business owners.
This agreement is designed to make CoCommercial the most productive, inclusive, and thoughtful space you visit online. Below, you’ll find our guidelines for what to post and how to respond to conversations, as well as our Solicitation and Inclusion Policies.
1) Be thoughtful and respectful.
Debate, disagreement, and critical feedback is an important part of stretching ourselves as business owners. However, keep all posts and responses considerate and compassionate.
2) Be specific.
The best way to get high-quality feedback is to offer as many details about your situation as possible and to get clear about the kind of responses you’re looking for in your post. The same goes for responses.
3) Get things started.
New trends, topics, and questions are always welcome as conversation-starters. Don’t be afraid to jump in and get the ball rolling on something you want to discuss.
4) Give first.
We welcome you to share your own expertise and resources. Feel free to point the community to a blog post, workshop, or even an offer you have that could help others out. But, before you do, make sure to offer some insight, background information, or behind-the-scenes story first so that your share is as rich as possible.
Consider whether your post, repeated by others, would make the community more productive and thoughtful or less productive and thoughtful.
If it feels like spam, it probably is spam. If it feels like a helpful story and a positive next step, it’s probably that. See our Solicitation Policy for further guidance.
If you feel a post or member has violated our “Give first” policy, please alert the Community Team at email@example.com
5) Share your own experiences.
We are here to learn from you (yes, you). Share the story of your latest promotion, offer your analysis of a marketing campaign, tell the tale of your most recent hire. We’d love to get the inside scoop on what’s working—or not working—for you.
6) Maintain others privacy.
Anything posted at CoCommercial is assumed to be private and shared in confidence. Please do not share any stories, training, or results shared here without affirmative consent.
"Give First" Self-Promotion Policy
Self-promotion is natural and a good thing for both you personally and for your business. And, self-promotion serves an important role in our community: our members want to do business with other members and they can’t if you don’t tell them about what you offer.
Of course, there’s valuable self-promotion and then there’s self-promotion that just falls flat.
We’ve never wanted to ban self-promotion here at CoCommercial because we believe so strongly that it’s a muscle you should strengthen–not ignore. To that end, we have a policy for how your self-promotion should occur and it’s one that will serve you well out in the open, too.
We call it the “Give First” policy.
We want you to share relevant resources, articles, podcast episodes, and even offers (free or paid). But before you do, we want to make sure you give a little something extra.
That doesn’t just mean being an active and helpful member of the community. It means on a post-by-post, comment-by-comment basis.
If you want to post a link to a free resource you have to share, tell us 3 mistakes you see people making that inspired you to create it. If you want to post a link to an article, give us a tip or an idea that you couldn’t fit in. If you want to share an offer, share a tutorial or a technique that you use in the offer right up front.
Following the “Give First” policy takes some thought and a little extra time, but it ensures that our community is full of valuable posts–not a link factory! Give First also opens the door to conversation, reflection, and analysis–all of which makes your self-promotion much, much more effective.
We know this might take a little practice to get right. We’re committed to helping you with your self-promotion, and will reach out with coaching and pro tips if we see a post that could push the needle closer to contributing and opening the door to conversation. And to keep our community out of the link-factory category – we may at times remove posts that stray too far from the give first policy (not without offering some coaching first!).
As I mentioned, this isn’t just a policy to follow here at CoCommercial. When you incorporate Give First into your marketing on social media, email, or webinars, you set the stage for much more success.
Use this checklist to ensure your post follows our policy. If you can check at least 3 of these boxes, you’re good to go!
✅ Share something unique and personal in your experience of the offering
Great promotion gives first—there’s always something you can share in addition to whatever you’re promoting. It might be the story of how you created it, the mission behind it, a hard lesson you learned in the process of making it real, or a behind-the-scenes peek. Your “give” doesn’t have to be massive—but it has to be present to make your promotion truly effective.
✅ Be intentional & transparent
Great promotion doesn’t “Spray & Pray”—copying & pasting in every channel, group, or platform you’re on is rarely a good way to engage people who could find what you’re doing useful.
Great promotion also doesn’t diminish or qualify—there’s no need to apologize when you’re sharing something valuable. Calling out your faults, vulnerability, or sense of inadequacy can be a real turn off. Own what you have to offer.
✅ Start a conversation, ask a question, involve the community
Great marketing doesn’t say “hey, look at me!” it says “hey, look at you!” Making your self-promotion valuable is ultimately about taking the “self” out of it entirely and putting the person receiving value in the spotlight. Ask members to comment on their similar experiences; invite them to provide feedback on an aspect of your product, offer, sales page, etc.; offer an opportunity for our members to be a part of your journey in a unique way.
✅ Consider our CoCommercial community members and our culture
Great promotion does take context into account—everywhere you share your message or offer, the context is a little different. Whether it’s in a 1:1 conversation or it’s in an online group, or it’s from a stage, the audience’s expectations are different. Your job is to make it fit into the culture, norms, and expectations of the situation in which you’re sharing it… while also finding a way to make it fresh and exciting
✅ Share more than just a link
Great promotion does incorporate hard-won business lessons—when you see an opportunity to help a member with your service or offer, be visible and vulnerable in how you think you can help. Tell us what’s worked in your experience and how that led you to create the solution at hand.
✅ Think global vs. local
Great promotion does consider locale—know your audience and understand the realities of their global, local, online and real-life access to your offering. Our members represent a global community of online entrepreneurs – so think about access, time zones, and cultural differences.
We know this might take a little practice to get right.
We’re committed to helping you with your self-promotion, and will reach out with coaching and pro tips if we see a post that could push the needle closer to contributing and opening the door to conversation. And to keep our community out of the link-factory category – we may at times remove posts that stray too far from the give first policy (not without offering some coaching first!).
If you ever have any questions as to whether your self-promotional post is appropriate, or how you might make it fit in with the “give first” policy – you can reach out to any member of the CoCommercial team for help!
There is a noticeable difference between helpful sharing of resources, opportunities, and expertise and solicitation. We define solicitation as targeting members of CoCommercial for the express purpose of sales with little or no previous relationship.
There is to be absolutely no solicitation within CoCommercial or between members outside of CoCommercial, including:
- Using the private message function to target members for an offer (free or paid)
- Tagging members in a post to target them for an offer
- Researching email addresses of members and targeting them for an offer
- Using other social media to target members for an offer
There are plenty of opportunities to share your work, your resources, and even offers on CoCommercial without the direct solicitation of our members. Remember our “Give First” guideline and focus on building natural relationships with other members.
If you feel a member has violated our Solicitation Policy, please email our Community Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A message from Tara McMullin, founder & CEO:
I’m a superuser here at CoCommercial, not the guru.
In fact, we aim to make this place a guru-free zone. There is plenty of expertise here but what there is even more of is experience.
Your experience—as a brand-new business owner, as a seasoned entrepreneur with several ventures under your belt, or as a hungry business owner who is working hard every day to make things more awesome—is hard won. It’s also extremely valuable to everyone else here.
When I say that, together, we’re building the most dependable knowledge-base on building a small business in the New Economy, I don’t mean that we’re building resources, training, or education.
Instead, it’s our community—YOU— that is the knowledge-base, the best source of real-world experience, creative ideas, and meaningful feedback.
I am a part of that knowledge-base—not the source of it.
I am a superuser—not a guru.
I have watched business owner after business owner limit their personal access to fresh perspectives, knowledge, and experience because they’ve tied themselves to a particular expert’s point of view.
The small business education market has amplified our natural tendencies to reach for the safety of experts. But each time we choose to glom onto a guru, we shut out other ways of thinking, experimenting, and exploring.
CoCommercial exists to blow this tendency wide open.
All CoCommercial members have something to offer.
If nothing else, you have your curiosity and drive (here, we value that extremely highly). But much more likely, you have experiences, stories, and a critical mind.
We don’t need your advice so much as we need your contribution.
We don’t want your expertise so much as we want your practical knowledge.
We don’t need you to repeat what you’ve learned so much as we need you to explore what it means for you.
If you have something to say but worry you don’t have “the answer,” say it.
If you have a perspective to offer but worry it’s not the “right one,” share it.
Thank you for helping us build something truly unique here. I, for one, am proud to be a member.
Inclusion & Harrassment Policy
CoCommercial is dedicated to providing a harassment-free experience for everyone, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, age, race, or religion. We do not tolerate harassment of participants in any form.
This agreement applies to all CoCommercial spaces, including our community space, events, mailing list, and blog, both online and off. Anyone who violates this agreement may be sanctioned or expelled from these spaces at the discretion of our Community Team.
Some CoCommercial spaces may have additional rules in place, which will be made clearly available to participants. Participants are responsible for knowing and abiding by these rules.
The CoCommercial Community Team works to actively monitor our community spaces and prevent violations of this agreement before they occur but we don’t always catch everything. If you are being harassed or you feel a member has violated the terms of this agreement, please contact the Community Team at email@example.com.
If the person who is harassing you is on the team, they will recuse themselves from handling your incident. We will respond as promptly as we can.
This code of conduct applies to CoCommercial spaces, but if you are being harassed by a member of CoCommercial outside our spaces, we still want to know about it. We will take all good-faith reports of harassment by CoCommercial members seriously. This includes harassment outside our spaces and harassment that took place at any point in time. The abuse team reserves the right to exclude people from CoCommercial based on their past behavior, including behavior outside CoCommercial spaces and behavior towards people who are not in CoCommercial.
Participants asked to stop any harassing behavior are expected to comply immediately.
If a participant engages in harassing behavior, the Community Team may take any action they deem appropriate, up to and including expulsion from all CoCommercial spaces and identification of the participant as a harasser to other CoCommercial members or the general public.
Questions or concerns?
If you have any questions or concerns about how our policies work or how they’re enforced, please let us know.
Also, our policies are regularly evolving. If you see a need for a policy or guideline we haven’t explicitly created yet, let us know that too.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org or complete the form here.