Ricardo Nunez made a comment in a previous post, that got me thinking about the transition from “engage and help everybody” to “the community maintaining itself”? A noble goal for cultivating a community. Though, like infinity, it is a goal you can never really reach. But, I wanted to share a few observations I’ve made that help move communities in that direction.
Part 1: Over Eager Greeter
This one took me quite some time to recognize. My own excitement about greeting new members the second they joined the community (most services have the option to shoot off an email when there is a new member) meant that other members of the community didn’t get the chance. Obviously they could have gone up to greet people as well. But 8 (or 8000) “hi, welcome to x, let me know if you have any questions” would be awkward. and overbearing.
Related to this, some people just want to check out a new community. Maybe they don’t feel like they have *joined* anything yet, so pouncing on them the minute they “walk in the door” can throw them off guard and cause them to raise their defenses.
I don’t believe there is a magic number (i.e. 1 day or 386 minutes) of how long to wait before greeting new members. All communities have different cultures and purposes. Some have hundreds of messages/notifications per day. Some only meet once a month. Etc.
With each community (you probably have more than one in each organization) I try to figure out how much time someone might need to get a feel for the place, as well as the average time it takes for members the seize their opportunity to say hello first. Finally, I write the numbers down, and ask a few members if those numbers make sense. With that information in hand, I have a decent guideline for how long to wait before extending my own greeting.
photo credit: Photo Denbow
Part 2: Helping Should be Easy
Part 3: Make it Safe