Specific tactics for building community offline


(Peter Staal) #1

I am looking for tactics to build a community offline. Let’s say for arguments sake, I would like to build a community without the support of digital tools. How would you go about doing that?

(Bas van Leeuwen) #2

Hi Peter,

Can you share some more specifics? I think the question currently is a bit too vague :slight_smile:

I think one of the major goals to achieve in an offline community is to take away the natural habit of people forming cliques.
You’ll need some form of icebreaker and/or force people into groups they wouldn’t naturally join.

If you have someone in your network that organises summer-camps for kids, they would probably be able to help you brainstorm some exercises :slight_smile:

(Nick Emmett) #3

Hey @Peter_Staal,
I agree with @Bas_van_Leeuwen around the detail, abit more would be good - is this specific to a particular industry, company etc? who’s the target audience? Where are they based? Is it an online community at the minute or are you looking at jumping straight in to an offline version?

For me I think that often the exact same principles apply in terms of getting people to come, stick around and come back again.

We just held our first UK User Group, essentially an extension of our online community, but we know that we’re going to get people at those events that see that as the community for them rather than the online version - which is fine, they’ll coming to the online community anyway to see the agendas and register etc so it’s about trying to hook them there for me.

I’d say think about the format, what content will there be, why should I come. My usual question about WHY still applies - what’s the why? What value will people get by being a member?

(Sarah Hawk) #4

@WouterS had great results with an offline series. I imagine he has some good pointers.

I’ll tag in a few others too.

(Kathleen Ulrich) #5

Hi Peter and thanks to Sarah for tagging me in.

Are you talking good old community organizing - where you have a meeting at a coffee shop or library meeting room, and put up posters/flyers and make personal calls and invitations to known community organizers and leaders? If so, obtain the proper permissions and some talking points and best of luck!

If you are hoping for in-person meetings with people who are part of your online community, you have some planning to do. I’m in year 2 of this and have 7 groups on 5 continents - which is where I capped it.

Interview or poll members in large metropolitan areas to see if there is interest.

Get a strategy - to achieve organizational goals or community goals? Get a budget. Who is ultimately doing the organizing - you or members? Who selects and provides the location?

Get your communication strategy and rules in place, and here you have to consider digital tools – but maybe some no cost open-source tools. Can they post on all social media? Can they build their own website? Outline any follow-up requirements such as providing a post meeting report to all members of the community, Figure out how they apply and how they are selected.

Make it easy
I provide a toolkit that has everything from purpose and principals to a facilitator script. I also provide downloadable resources and links to tools such as Eventbrite.

Hope that’s helpful. Finally, you are dealing with people and people always can surprise you. That’s why it is fun, but be prepared!

(Peter Staal) #6

Thanks everyone, This is for a non-profit looking to engage its volunteers. They do not have the money nor the interest in implementing an online community. They are however interested in engaging them offline through events, webinars, etc. What I am looking for is:

  • content formats for meetings that go beyond the traditional meetups (I like the creative format @WouterS used for instance), think festivals, knowledge cafes etc.
  • examples of toolkits, such as the one @Kathy provided, that give members guidance on how to schedule their own series of events (@Kathy do you have a link to the toolkits you mentioned?
    Hope this makes it a bit clearer

(Scott Gould) #7

Hi Peter, great to see a nonprofit engaging volunteers!

I’ve done a lot of work in this area for many years (https://scottgould.me/2017/02/23/what-i-learned-about-creating-advocates-from-leading-a-church/)

I’d be happy to have a chat on Skype to give you some advice if that helps?

(Wouter Schrijvershof) #8

Hey @Peter_Staal ,

Feel free to call/e-mail me if you need more info about the subject. Glad to help where I can :slight_smile:

(chiprodgers) #9

I wrote a blog recently about connecting online and offline communities. You might find it helpful:

Community “IRL” – 4 Ways to Energize Your Online Community With Live Events

Let me know if this is what you were talking about. Also, as has been offered by others, I’d be happy to connect by phone or Skype to talk further.

Good luck!