By Marjorie Anderson, Community Engagement Specialist at PMI and member of TheCR Network.
One of the many wonderful things about an association having a member-facing online community is that there’s something in it for everyone. Maybe one of the most challenging things about an association that has a member-facing online community is getting staff and internal stakeholders to see that there’s something in it for everyone.
You’ve probably heard it all:
- I don’t need to be a part of the community
- I don’t want to be inundated with connection requests and e-mails
- I don’t have time!
- I don’t see how it can help my department
It’s the old “if it ain’t broke, don’t try to fix it” way of thinking. Of course, you have ammunition in your back pocket that’s going to settle these concerns, but have you educated yourself with information about staff and other internal stakeholders to find out why they would want to or need to engage?
“Marjorie, what are you talking about? We’ve already demonstrated the value of the community to executive level staff, so people should just be ready to jump on board!”
Not so much.
Let’s just say you want to engage your marketing department. To you, it makes perfect sense for them to create a profile and get a pulse on what’s going on in the community and what your members are saying. After all, this is information they may not be able to gather through normal market research avenues. But does it make sense to them to be there? Do you know what their business goals are and how their involvement will ultimately help them succeed? If your answer to this is “no,” you may want to rethink who you’re trying to engage and why.
Familiarize yourself with your organization’s business goals and departmental goals. If you don’t have access to this information, have conversations. Talk to your peers about what they are working on and then offer solutions. Community is an essential place that can help your organization meeting its goals. But you can’t stop once you have executive buy-in. If you’re not helping your organization see the value in what the community has to offer, you can’t expect much support for future growth.
What are some ways that you’ve helped your organization realize the value in your community?