You’re going into another year of running your own professional network, hundreds of people have joined your community, made connections, and even bought courses, event tickets,, and other products you offer. You could be making tens of thousands of dollars a month even, but despite things going well, there’s always the worry that the dreaded dip will happen.
First off, a dip in engagement or member interest isn’t out of the ordinary, in fact, you should expect it. It’s what you do once the dip does happen (and it will!) that matters. We talked with some successful community managers and creators about how you can continue elevating your professional network’s experience.
1. Always be starting conversations
One of our very own Mighty Pro Community Strategists, Shannon Paris, is constantly thinking about how to create more dynamic engaged online communities. She is also the Community Manager of the highly popular community The Network (formerly known as The What Works network) which helps people form habits and strategies to build stronger businesses.
A key issue that many people running professional networks run into is keeping the conversations flowing within the community. While it’s ideal to eventually get to a place where your members are the ones driving the most engagement in your community, being very deliberate with the kinds of conversations you start in your community can be highly effective.
Paris has seen a vast improvement in the interactions with her community by zeroing in on creating the most specific, valuable conversations possible. She had this to say, “Getting more deliberate about starting conversations with the community has been fantastic. For example, creating more specific multiple-choice polls has proven more effective qualitatively and quantitatively. And more importantly, it is a much lighter lift than having to write a 500 - 1K word piece of "content" to get the conversation started.”
A key takeaway is that creating more dynamic polls, questions, and conversation topics is a much swifter way of getting your members talking to one another than toiling away creating more content. Paris went on to tell us, “These more specific conversation starters give concrete points for our members to riff on, all tied back to and reinforcing our monthly themes and goals.”
2. Create less, facilitate more
Adam Weber is the SVP of Community at 15five a human-centered performance management platform that creates effective managers, highly engaged employees, and top-performing organizations.
Weber also manages the HR Superstars community on Mighty Pro which bringers together Human Resources professionals in a highly-engaged professional network to share knowledge, problem solve, and learn about all things related to human resources.
HR Superstars uses Mighty Pro to give their members access to a large resource center helping HR professionals to innovate and push the boundaries of their industry thanks to live events, masterminds, guides, and more.
Weber has reflected on his time running HR Superstars and managing communities in general and had this to say “Over time, my biggest growth in leading a community is going from being a content creator to a content facilitator. Early I tried to do (or create) too much on my own and I started to get burnt out.” We all know that constantly churning out content is an exhausting process that can often yield little results when you’re doing it on your own. But if you open up the possibility for creative collaboration, you’ll have much to work with and be more energized.
Weber went on to tell us how this change in approach has affected him, “The more I facilitate, connect the dots and allow collaboration, the more sustainable for me and the more valuable for the community. I also think to become a true community, it needs to move beyond me.”
3.Provide value through outside sources
Gert Jan Huisink is a maritime professional and Co-Founder of the LISA Community on Mighty Pro which brings together hundreds of maritime professionals interested in revolutionizing how they solve complex logistical problems affecting shipping in our world.
Within the LISA Community, maritime professionals from all over the world have come together to create a network of support for one another sharing knowledge not found anywhere else, and problem-solving complex issues within their industry together. Huisink has found success within his community by providing value through monthly meet-ups and collaborating with other companies to add additional value to his member’s premium subscriptions.
Huisink told us a bit about his approach to providing value within his community that increases member engagement, “We have a monthly meet-up with our premium members. Also once a month an outside company that would be interesting to our community visits with our premium members.” This is a very effective way to increase member engagement and also provide value in the form of networking possibilities for their members.
Other low lift, actional tips that have worked for Huisink monthly “Ask Me Anything” events, local meet-ups, and even opening up the space for members themselves to run events within the network.
4.Social media still works to increase member engagement
This might sound counterintuitive, but if you want to increase member engagement within your community, you’re also going to need to spend time outside of your community doing outreach. While there is much to be said about how social media is becoming harder and harder to use for reaching your ideal members there’s still value to be found in it.
Megan Sherer, the Co-Founder of the online community The Self-Care Space launched her community and made over $30,000 through using social media and a creative partnership with her Co-Founder Katrina Wright who also had a large Instagram following. Sherer looks at social media like Instagram as a great resource to get people invested in your brand, and from there it gets people primed to become engaged members of your community in the future.
She told us a bit about this mindset, “We try to use Instagram as a place to just offer free resources and mental health advice as much as possible so that it's a place people want to follow. Even if they're not a member yet, maybe there'll become one, but regardless they're getting value from it.”
5.Create an environment for your members
Finally, creating a culture of contribution means building something that is more than just an online community. Ashley Fox, Founder of the Wealth Builders Community on Mighty Pro is an expert at helping people achieve their financial goals.
But her ambition is to transform Wealth Builders into the Netflix of personal finance. One way she’s doing that is by rethinking how online communities are run by viewing hers as an “environment” her members are navigating.
She told us, “I always had this vision of having a community, but I didn’t want to be everybody’s financial advisor. And I didn’t want to leave people to fend for themselves either. I wanted to create an environment for them to thrive.”
Many online course programs and communities can feel fairly solitary ironically enough. Members may post a question or take a self–guided course, but when it comes to interacting with others outside of the community manager or instructor, it can be slow going. Fox views her community as a house. Each aspect of the community has its own room, and within those rooms are different expectations and experiences.
This may seem like a simple turn of phrasing, but what Fox is getting at is people respond well to specific demands and expectations. When you create specific places for people to visit on different topics, goals, or ideas, then you are creating an environment of contribution where those who are in a specific “room” are highly motivated by a specific interest.
Most importantly, in a house, you should feel comfortable and connected with those you’re around. The same is true in a community. Why is this so important? When you create an environment in your community, your members won’t want to leave when they ’ve completed the material.
In fact, they’ll want to contribute more which means less content generation for you and more member engagement and retention.
Remember, creating a thriving online community where your members want to interact and spend their time is a hard thing to do, but it’s not impossible. A key thing all of these tips emphasize is that being specific with your strategies and being unafraid to collaborate with others is a key component of any successful network's success.