Community Leadership Summit Wiki


Andy started with a short introduction on the local community around cloud computing he has build up. From there we discussed the how and what of doing that which resulted in the following 'tips'. Please note that some tips come from other sessions as my head is messy ;-)

short how-to[]

Let's start with a short how-to to build a local community.

  • Start thinking small. Tell friends & family and invite them. 5-7 people at the first meeting is just fine'! Now go:
  1. Find a location and time
    • something small to begin with. A meeting room at your company might be just fine! Try to find a free venue...
    • Best time to begin with is after work, say from 20:00 to 22:00 or so.
  2. Find an interesting speaker - quality of that is crucial
    • Ask somebody who knows what they talk about, an engineer or someone active in a project.
    • Try to meet before the session to get to know them.
    • check their presentation and coach them if needed to make it better.
  3. Make them feel welcome!
    • Present new visitors very shortly to the group before the meeting starts
    • Make sure you talk to everyone at the meeting
    • Once the group of visitors grows, pick someone to do the talking/introducing for you
      • Appoint a 'director of communication' who welcomes people, introduces them to others, etc etc.
      • Let that person put that title on linked-in,
    • In international communities, having a 'welcoming team' and 'personal mentors' works similarly well!

This is a basic start. From here, you have to start building.

The tips[]

How to do that building? The above already has some tips, but there is more.

  1. Ensure interesting content
    • People initially come for the interesting content. Be it speakers at a meeting or technology you write, it has to be good and visible!
      • That means blogging about technology, writing reports on talks, getting good, interesting speakers.
  2. Focus on individual connections
    • People STAY for the people. Interesting people, friendly people
    • So introduce them to people
    • Ensure a friendly, healthy atmosphere.
      • Once your community grows, a code of conduct will be needed
      • Including an anti-harassment policy
      • And a way to deal with rude and/or offending people
  3. Start a 'bring in a friend-program'
    • If you want to grow your community, start a 'bring a friend' program.
    • With small rewards - like a 'featured members' section or small give-aways
  4. Identify and target 'mavens'
    • Most communities have a small number of very active and crucial members. Be sure to give them the attention they deserve!
  5. Support creativity
    • People might come up with funny posters, create a postcard, plush versions of your mascot, use the logo for parody, things like that. Support it!
    • It's good and healthy and fun and provides a way to 'show the love'.
    • Once your community grows and you have to start thinking about trademarks, sub-license them liberally, as much as you can!

Running the event[]

Getting and retaining people is one thing. There's also the "how to actually DO it". Some tips:

  1. Have coffee, thee and cake!
    • You don't have to provide a full dinner at the local meetings but having coffee, thee and some cake makes it all go a lot smoother.
  2. Find sponsors
    • It is important to have sponsors. They can pay for the food and drinks at your local meeting. Asking the visitors to cough up is simply not a good idea.
    • just contact local, large and small companies, be creative. Many have no problem trowing some cash at you once in a while.
    • Don't wear them out. Better to have 20 sponsors only sponsor once a year for an event than 4-5 sponsors who have to cough up a lot!
    • But don't ask too little money. If you ask $250 you might get 3 sponsors and if you ask $1000 you might only get 1 but - well, do the math... You must realize that $250 or $1000 is almost the same for a company, considering how much trouble they have to go through!
      • Handling the monies-tip: use American Express gift checks or let the sponsor pay directly for the things you need. They usually have no problem with doing that!
  3. Get web presence
    • sponsors are really happy if you can put their name on a webpage. Surely a website can be helpful to attract a local community, and it is even more important for an online community, but keep in mind that your sponsors like it too!
      • having a job section will surely help finding sponsors
      • be sure to measure hits on your site! While you care about quality, sponsors usually are more attracted to quantity...
    • have reports from your regular local meetings online, no matter how quick and short. Be careful with pictures, not everybody likes it if he/she is put online without being asked about it!
  4. Find minions
    • You need to off-load work at some point. Find people to help you!
    • It is often not hard to find people interested in specific tasks, as long as you tell them what to do, and how.
    • That doesn't scale but it's a great start. At some point you'll see some of those can take on responsibility and just take over things from you
    • Give them a nice title, present them and their job to the team and make clear they have a responsibility
    • Leave room for mistakes
      • Usually, you don't have to take titles away - if you stop depending on people because they don't follow through, at some point they will notice and admit they can't do their job anymore.
      • Of course you can ask them to step down if they really don't want to...
  5. For local events: have a dinner after the meetings!
    • This will allow those who want to to get to know each other and keeps them active!