As an entrepreneur, I’ve experienced firsthand the benefits of having the support of a professional network. It's a great feeling when you've found your tribe, a group of like-minded people who support you and have similar interests and goals.
Professional networks are becoming more popular and a more critical component of society. They help people network and open doors to endless possibilities. At Mobilize, we’ve worked with hundreds of leaders of professional networks. These amazing community leaders, like all of you, are always looking to bring more value to their community members. This can be challenging when you’re supporting hundreds or thousands of people. It's easy to get caught up in the day-to-day management of it all.
So...How do you make sure each community member feels part of your community?
Here, I’ve curated a list of seven things every professional network leader should provide for their community members.
It’s important for community managers to stay up to date with relevant news and trends. However, the last thing a professional network should want is their managers spending time researching articles and resources all day. Articles about hiring, growth, business models, are always circulating the Internet. Trends are always changing and emerging. It’s super helpful to your founders if you can sift through the noise and pull out the ones worth reading.
Action Items: Make it a habit to share this content in one accessible place for your members—whether it’s a weekly article roundup email or a live discussion thread.
Throughout your journey as community leaders, there’s a high probability you’re meeting so many thought leaders and experts along the way. From political leaders, sales experts, marketing gurus to influential investors, keep track of these experts and share those connections with your community members.
Action Items: Create a directory of relevant experts, their contact information, and areas of expertise that’s easily accessible to your community. Make it a point to ask them what help do they need and do one-on-one intros on a weekly or monthly basis.
In addition to introducing your community members to experts, it’s just as important to introduce them to other community members. Similar to what I mentioned above, make sure that you make it a regular habit to connect your members to each other. A supportive community where professionals can learn from each other can make your community stand out from others in your space.
Action Items: Create a directory of the contact information for all of your members, including role, industry and expertise. Give them an online space to enable discussions, and make it a habit to introduce them to each other one-on-one or host group AMA sessions.
Take networking to the next level and host live events. Community members in your professional network are going through different things and dealing with different issues from fundraising, recruiting to building company culture. In-person events encourage founders to connect with each other and talk about the challenges they’re facing while building a company.
Action Items: Plan one event each quarter around a specific professional-development theme—for example, how to find a mentor, how to network, or how to ask for a raise. Bring in an expert to give a presentation, and leave the rest of the time for networking.
Many of the members of your professional network are looking to connect with like-minded professionals for mentoring opportunities or potential job opportunities. However, not all professionals have an extensive network within their respective industries. It takes time to build an impressive rolodex. As the manager of a professional network, it’s only in your best interest to help your members connect with the best talent and mentors in your space.
Action Items: Create a registration form on your website to let potential members show interest in your community, and create a directory of talent based on those interested members. Then send a weekly or monthly report of these candidates segmented by role. Make sure it’s also easy for your members to tell you about open positions, ask them to send you the job descriptions to circulate around the directory of talent.
Help your community members build their own professional brands by regularly sharing their blog content, websites and updates on social media. It takes time to build an audience, and your members need help in this area in order to reach the right people and opportunities.
Action Items: Send a weekly request to your founders to share news and content with you and other founders. Then tweet at least one update to support each founder in your accelerator every week. You can also create a spotlight series on Facebook & Linkedin highlighting one member's content or accomplishment.
Reward your community members by giving them perks to better their lives in the industry in which your community exists. This can range from giving community members access to exclusive events, webinars or ebooks. If you have a discount for a training course in the industry, share it!
Action Items: Hire an intern to do research and create a list of all the perks you can offer to your community members. This should include discounts for events, conferences, company outings and office supplies. Make this list accessible at all times and share updates about new perks and when they’re available.
Using Mobilize, we’ve had many community managers help their community members flourish by using our platform to support their professional network. We hope you find these tactics useful, and we can't wait to watch your community grow.