Making Virtual Networking Work for Business PromotionJanette Toral
It is common for any individual who puts up a website in having a desire to have their own online community or e-community.
An e-community is a virtual forum where like-minded people gather to communicate, share, and trade with each other. By joining forums, communities and bulletin boards, you can meet people that have the same interest as you do and exchange information. Website owners should see community building as a means of building loyalty and gaining credibility to their site.
There are many ways that you can create an e-community. Some of it includes:
1. Create and join an existing community portal
For organizations, creation of a website with community features is considered as a high-value competitive service. Some examples in this area are:
2. Create and join an online e-zine community
3. Create and join an online discussion community
If your organization is just starting and need to establish your identity, one way is to let the people behind it, position and promote themselves as well. This can be done through:
Responsibilities in maintaining an e-community
Creating an e-community maybe easy for some, but it is hard to keep. You don’t create a community for the sake of having one. Remember to note the following when you plan your community:
- It must have a purpose. This will help keep you on track and not be distracted. If your purpose is to increase skill capability and generate business, do not allow it to get sidetracked.
- Campaign for quality membership. Eventually, it is a numbers game of high quality people you have in your club membership roster. Especially if you are using this as an ace in getting sponsorships and resources.
- Quality topics. Keeping a discussion group active is not as easy as it seems. The topics should appeal to the members’ self-interest and benefit. There must be something for them to gain that will make it worthy of their time to be part of the group.
- Empower your community. The people in the community should get to a level of comfort where they could responsibly share their insights and knowledge. Be active in fostering and sharing knowledge.
- Continuously innovate. Offer value added services and activities to your members. Make your community very proud in being part of it. You know you succeed in this area if your community members are already inviting their peers to join the group.
Community Leader’s Role
- Set clear policies. Make sure to have clear policies on what actions shall be taken against abusive members. The lack of policy may get back to you later on when problems start coming in. Note that you can be subjected to law suits as well once copyright violations committed by members happen in your community. Policies in the mailing list should be made clear right from the start. The moderator is the leader and peacekeeper of the community. They are the last person expected to violate e-mail ethical rules or else start losing control. They should set an example and be a role model.
- Be a role model. An important factor as well is for the moderator to keep their feet on the ground and remain humble at all times. An arrogant community leader will never grow and the community will lose relevance in the long run.
- Socialize and network. Visit, seek out, and talk to your members. Find out what they want. What can you do to help them?
Building an online community is a tedious task. The rewards are high if done properly. Focus on your strengths and make a difference. Make your mark online!