I want to be where everybody knows my name
Imagine you have had a tough day in the office, and want to go out for a drink with a colleague after work. He suggests the bar on the corner (let’s call it Keats for sake of argument 🙂 )
You reluctantly agree – it’s not your favourite bar, the drink selection is not that great, and the decor leaves a bit to be desired. But it is conveniently close to the office, and you can be fairly sure you will bump into people you know there.
After a drink or two, you are loosened up and are having a really interesting conversation among a group of friends. But still you think – wouldn’t it be better if we all went to that hip bar downtown. You think you have convinced everyone to go – but as you head down there, quite a few people decide en route to call it a day, and you find a much smaller group has eventually come along with you – and moment for the great conversation you were having has now passed by.
This story might sound familiar, but at the same time you are probably wondering what it has to do with knowledge management.
Well online communities are a lot like bars. People often think that it is the bar itself that is the most important element of having a good time, but in fact it is the people you are with and the conversation you are having that will determine the success of your evening. Similarly in communities its not so much the fancy functionality of the community site, or the the slick and trendy design, it is the people who are there and the exchanges you are having with them.
It’s also worth noting that just as my local bar might not be your local bar, the community where I feel most at home might not be the same as the one where you feel at home. This means that if you want to interact with a particular group of people online, you have to go where those people congregate, even if it isn’t the first choice of where you want to be.
And once a conversation has started, even if it is in the “wrong community”, it’s very hard to move it to a new venue and bring everyone with you, or do it without killing the conversation. Once a conversation has started it’s best to let it continue where it is and bring people to the conversation, rather than trying to move the conversation itself.
What you can do is try inviting them to come to your community next time around. You might have less chance of getting everyone you want to come along, but at the same time you will have the people from your community who you also want to join the conversation. So, if you want to bring new people to “your place” then you need to make it an attractive place for them to come by organizing interesting activities that appeal to them, and by introducing them to your community to make them feel at home.
And remember that its always good to try out different bars, err I mean communities, once in while, since each one will have its unique appeal. [you can tell it’s almost the weekend]