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Community Give Back

Posted On: November 1st, 2010 by Jane Hiscock

As Farland Group celebrates its first year in business, we have much to be grateful for and much more left to do.  To mark our anniversary the Farland team has decided that we will celebrate every year with a day of service to give back to the communities in which we live.  In thinking about how to give back to our community we started to research different organizations to understand their mission and to determine if each of us were interested to contribute to furthering that cause.   This got me to thinking about our work in building customer communities.  It seems that many of the principles that matter to us in providing  community service and giving back also apply to building a customer community or social network.

Here are three things that may help you as you evolve your customer communities:

1. Charter, Mission, Vision

When looking to find an organization where we could volunteer our services, we immediately went to the mission statement for the group.  Charters and mission statements are very powerful tools and we use them religiously with the communities that we help to build.  Even the smallest customer communities that come together for a limited period to resolve a specific issue will benefit from a Charter.  A Charter serves as an organizing principle – it allows your customers to understand what you are trying to achieve and to ensure it aligns to their interests.  Equally important, the Charter helps to create alignment with the executive sponsors and once written they are often more invested in the community.

2. Give to Get

You only get out what you put in to an initiative.  Our clients get the best engagement – the deepest dialogue, the most comments on blogs, the highest attendance at events – when they share and are open to learning, debate and discussion.  By working with executive teams to do simple things like asking for advice -and acting on the recommendations, or changing their photos in profiles, posting a comment for each comment received – all of these actions will provide for amore meaningful community.

3. Some Risk is Good

What’s the worst thing that will happen?  This is the questions that many of you asked when we were embarking on the adventure of starting Farland.  Farland Group works with many executive communities and we find that the appetite for risk is much lower, because executives – undertandably – do not want to have career risk.  But, we also find that if we push the edges on small risk taking and the can demonstrate high return that we slowly increase the yield.  Overtime community members begin to realize that the risk of participation is worth it given the peer exchange, dialogue and learning that they receive in return.

Share with us the other things you have learned in establishing communities.  We enjoy learning from all of you.

Farland Group has built its own informal community of advocates and teachers.  Many of you have contributed tremendously to our learning, success and growth.  Thank you for giving so generously of advice without asking for anything in return — Vanessa DiMauro, Rachel Happe, Jim Storer and the Community Roundtable gang, David Meerman Scott, Dawn Lacallade, Chris Brogan, Shawn Morton, Aaron Strout, Brian Solis, and Rob Leavitt.