There was a discussion going on the other day in the Facilitators CoP about why do people join and not post to the community.
In the past I have been asked is there a way to force members to post. Another words, some have asked if new members could forced to first introduce themselves before being able to post in other sections of the community..
So would forcing members to introduce themselves be a good thing?
It’s certainly an interesting idea, and one that I think every facilitator should think about?
I’m always using the analogue of the community facilitator is the party host and each community is a party waiting to happen.
Think about when you have arrived at a party and it’s full of people you don’t know.
You want to get involved, but are a little hesitant, a little unsure of yourself. I hope this is normal, as this is how I feel. Also you don’t want to make an idiot of yourself. Been there, done that.
You want to be liked, you want to be popular and you don’t want everyone talking about you behind your back.
So put yourself in the shoes of a new member to your community.
As a new member you need a way in. You need someway of breaking the ice. You’re looking for someone to be introduced to, or you need to feel comfortable about introducing yourself to the others at the party.
So going back to the original question and my response on forcing members to post. Well it’s always the same, no community facilitator should limit the opportunities of members to post, create content and encourage interaction. By preventing members from posting because they haven’t introduced themselves, you’ve lost the biggest opportunity of getting them over that first hurdle. Participation.
Your newest member may not feel comfortable introducing themselves just yet – they may want to make a few posts in the forum first. They may want to add a document, add to a wiki. Who knows what they may want to contribute? You’ll never know if you stop them from posting!
I see many members in the facilitators community get involved long before they ‘formally’ introduce themselves. If I had forced these members to introduce themselves before they could post in other areas, I would have lost their content and perhaps lost them as a member.
Welcome and Introductions
I feel it is important for any online community to have a place where members can introduce themselves, or be introduced.
This allows new members to introduce themselves if they want to. I normally set up an overall thread and encourage members to introduce themselves to the existing community. Try and make it a bit fun if you can.: Ask the new member:
- What they are currently working on, or who do you work for.
- What can you see out of you window? (Or some other fun question)
Try and tailor it to your members
Remember – there is no point in having any kind welcome and introduction forum if you, your facilitation team or your members do not welcome new members.
Not all your members will be of interested in welcoming every single new member to the community. However, some will and some should. At the very least, you need to be publicly welcoming those new members that have taken the time and effort to post in the welcome and introduction forum.
So what do you need to do?
Encourage members to introduce themselves, but don’t force them to. If you want to increase the number of members that introduce themselves, here are some options
- In the welcome email message include a link to the welcome and introductions thread, and invite them to introduce themselves
- Send a private message to new members welcoming them to the community and invite them to introduce themselves
- If new members have accepted an invite send a private message and ask them to introduce themselves as you don’t want to leave anyone out
- Ensure that those who introduce themselves are welcomed at the very least by the community facilitators. Ideally, try and ask other members to welcome your new members
So what are your thoughts?
Do you think members should be forced to introduce themselves before being able to take part in the community? What approaches have you taken to get members to introduce themselves and how did it work?
I would love to hear your thoughts, ideas and any stories of your experiences and don’t forget to Join the Facilitation Now Conference that is open Now but starts on Wednesday 24th February