There are three key elements to set up networking within your online business community: Activities (such as content and events), community members, and connections between community members. Connections are the most important part, and are, of course, essential for community growth.
This is why it’s so important for community owners to foster connections within a community as soon as possible. However, that can be a real challenge when business people don’t have enough time or energy that they can invest into it.
There are three key ingredients that will help you to set up networking within your business community. We collected them by building Intch — a professional networking tool for communities.
Networking is all about people
It’s as simple as that. The people that you meet have the power to change your life. When you have someone introduce you to their high-ranking boss at work, or help you land an important partner, then it all comes back to that person and how he or she introduced you.
Most people know this very well – and that’s why they want to be a part of a community with successful people. The problem of almost all digital community management platforms is that they don’t provide a mechanism to highlight peoples’ background, achievements, and so on. This makes it a tricky thing for community members to evaluate the power of a specific community in terms of other members.
Therefore, it’s important that community owners at least have a list of members with their areas of expertise, channels and rules, and so on.
Icebreaking is the core
Icebreaking is the core of networking, both in traditional offline events, but also online. Traditional offline events solve it via networking parties. Atmosphere, drinks, and personal contacts make it easier.
But everything changes when people meet each other in the digital world. What they see is an avatar, a short bio, and that’s it. All members are in different locations, in different moods, and have different tasks in their heads. So, the key to digital networking is generating emotions. Emotions are what drive engagement and trigger strong relationship building.
Modern community management platforms have a lot of features to set up events and post content, but most of them don’t have anything that boosts engagement between members.
Emotions are typically driven by something in common: The same school, city, common friends, and other shared characteristics. All social media platforms use this psychological drive to find people similar to us. They trigger users’ emotions and involve them. So, make sure that your community’s networking activities do the same.
Save your community members’ time
As community owners, we love when our members generate UGC content. It’s engaging, motivates people to promote it, and invites others. But think about it from the members’ perspective. All the time that people have they already dedicate to something. When you “ask” them to spend more time with you – they need to cut something else.
In the case of networking within a community, you need to meet people with shared, relevant backgrounds.
Modern communities are built on the paradigm of the feed – which means that people need to read a lot of content to be able to find something interesting. But many people don’t have enough time for it.
Social media found a way of how to solve it, by using data. They know what engages every single user. As a result, community owners need to use the same solution and ensure that users are engaged.
Adding a networking component to your community is a complex task. But in all cases that we’ve seen, it pays back. That’s why to set up networking within your online business community professional networking tool can be crucial. Your members will start to refer their friends and peers, because for them, your community not only drives great content and events, but also valuable connections and a way to achieve their business and career goals.