Community Building: Connecting Your Members

Picture this: you go to a networking event, not know a single person, and for a few moments, feel pretty awkward. The conversations around you are buzzing, and you head straight for the bar, so as to give the appearance you know what you’re doing. Of course, you don’t know what you are doing (yet), but it feels pretty darn awkward to just stand in a room looking like a deer caught in headlights. Fortunately, an observant stranger comes up to you and says, “your first time here?” and you respond, “yea” (while simultaneously LOVING this person for derailing you from having to figure out what to do next once you have
your drink in hand…).

This life saving stranger then asks you a few questions about what you do, what you’re interested in, etc, and introduces you to a few people in the room with overlapping interests, etc. Once you initially break the ice, and you’ve warmed up to the room a bit, you are ready to take on new conversations on your own (libation in your hand helps too, but I’m not advocating for that hehe).

All the initial match-maker had to do for you was point you to one person in the room to get you started, and you we’re off to the races. An Online Community manager can do the same for his/her community. Often,
the hardest part a new member faces upon joining a community, is knowing where and how to break the ice. Often, members never make it past sign-up because of this very reason. There isn’t usually much overhead involved in signing up for something, and so there isn’t much regret in leaving immediately, or never getting involved. While physically attending an event and then immediately walking out may involve
significant regret about wasted time for getting dressed, driving, parking, etc (along with a potential fee to even get it), online community joiners don’t have much initially at stake.

Don’t let your members follow this course. Find out what interests they have, who they may already know, and help connect them. Sometimes a little effort goes a long, long way. Help break the ice for them, and they may soon be your best stakeholders.

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Joan Guilfoyle

I could not agree more. I am certainly interested in govloop as a possible means to help me connect with other like-minded folks in DC. And even possibly find a roommate. Is there a service/bulletin board for this? /s/ Just Joined Joan

Meghan Peterson-McCoy

Smart post. I joined in the past and have just logged back in to see activity picking up. I have not yet found my niche but am happy with the content i do read and of course the potential of the site. I logged in today due to GovLoop Special Edition “It Ain’t Easy Being a Leader!”