In a community, everyone contributes and shares their opinions. That’s one reason communities can bring such value to associations and their members—everyone is involved and has a space at the table.
In fact, your community is the perfect place to get feedback on topics and ideas for your next event. It’s also a guaranteed way to satisfy your core constituents. Asking their opinion on conference themes and topics shows your community that you (1) care what they think and (2) are open to making changes to satisfy their needs.
But sometimes that same sense of community—where everyone’s voice is being heard—can make it difficult for association members to work together on projects and agree on outcomes. Communities are proof that, unfortunately, collaboration isn’t always the same as consensus. So how do you take your community’s momentum and use that engagement to help members work together towards a common goal? For example, how can you guide community members into shaping your event content?
Smart software moves members
Just because you create a space for people to work together doesn’t guarantee great things will happen. That’s why, if your association members need to collaborate on daunting tasks — like creating content for your next event — you need software that will facilitate consensus building, not just opinion sharing.
When deciding what type of software to use, be sure to look out for these three key features that help community members build consensus:
1. See versions
It’s easy to get caught up in the moment, especially if the project is fast paced or many people are involved. But when building consensus in a group, it’s important to be able to easily look back at old versions of documents and ideas. That’s why you need a platform that gives certain members access to older versions of documents with notes about who edited what. Being able to go back in time helps members see how their thinking has evolved and who originally proposed what idea.
Polls help with all types of tasks. From the mundane—what do people want for lunch?—to the bigger decisions—vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on a session topic—polls are a crucial part of consensus building. Find a platform that has an easy to set up polling feature that can help members take the group’s temperature and make final, hard decisions.
4. Easy document sharing
It’s impossible to work if you can’t easily share documents, both with individuals and an entire group. Look for a platform that has a user-friendly library for members to store and organize documents.
5. Reply by email
Just like a traditional member community, it’s important to give members engagement options so they can find a method that works best for them. Although apps and responsive design are important to consider, don’t forget to look at good old fashioned email. Many people rely on email and access it both from a desktop and via mobile. If members can reply to a discussion or share a document via email, you give them one more powerful tool for consensus building.
Give members the tools they need
Just like any initiative, you need to set your members up for success. And giving them the right tools to collaborate and consensus build is a huge part of making sure they’re successful. Although community doesn’t automatically equal consensus, if you combine those strong community relationships with the right tools, your members are much more likely to make a big impact and be successful. Your event will be more successful as well when you get your community involved in the planning.
Thank you to our partner, Higher Logic, for contributing this blog post. For more information on their services please visit www.higherlogic.com
Higher Logic’s Workspace collaboration tool adds formal collaboration functionality to your current member communities. Workspace helps teams work together more efficiently. Mature, reliable, and configurable, this collaborative tool delivers powerful technology to organizations of all sizes.