The Zombieland Guide to Tribe Building

One of the best movies of 2010 offers up several rules for surviving the zombie apocalypse. Good cardio, the “double tap” and always wearing your seat belt are essential tactics for surviving Zombieland. However, in between dodging blood thirsty zombies and looking for the last Twinkie on earth, the four characters of Zombieland teach some of the basic principles of Tribes.

Build trust slowly

You see? You just can’t trust anyone. The first girl I let into my life and she tries to eat me.
— Columbus

Just as Zombieland is filled with brain dead attackers, we are bombarded by content and advertising every day from the moment our clock radio wakes us in the morning until we’re browsing the web before bed. The sheer quantity is overwhelming and causes us to start out with mistrust.

Building relationships with your fans takes time as they learn to trust your expertise and staying power. Stick with it and over time you will see their loyalty grow.

Always be prepared

Don’t kill me with my own gun.
— Tallahassee

In Zombieland, you can’t go anywhere without being prepared. The same goes for building your Tribe. It’s a 24/7 job. Every time you return a reader’s email, do a book signing, speaking event or merely attend a conference, it’s an opportunity to build your tribe. Always be prepared.

It has to be about other people

And without other people, you might as well be a zombie.
— Columbus

The minute the only goal of leading your Tribe becomes selling books or making yourself famous, you might as well give it up. It will never work.

Building and leading a Tribe is about changing the world and making your followers’ lives better.  It centers around an idea bigger than yourself.

No matter how you slice it, building a Tribe is hard work.  By putting in the time, building trust and focusing on making your fan’s lives better, you’ll end up with a group of passionate people that are willing to stay the course with you.

Tim Grahl
Tim Grahl
Tim Grahl is the author of Your First 1000 Copies and the founder of He has worked with authors for a decade to help them build their platform, connect with readers, and sell more books. He has worked 1-on-1 with over a hundred authors including Daniel Pink, Hugh Howey, Barbara Corcoran, Chip and Dan Heath, Sally Hogshead and many others. He has also launched dozens of New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post bestsellers.
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