At Harness, we build online platforms for communities. These communities include universities, colleges, entrepreneur programs, and innovation ecosystems. Additionally, the platforms promote entrepreneurship, innovation and startups.
Do you have a leadership or management role in one of these communities? Are you the director of alumni relations at a university? Or are you the executive director of your college’s entrepreneur program?
Whether you’re leading one of these communities or you simply aspire to, this article is intended for you. Here are three questions to consider when trying to determine if your community needs an online platform.
Are the members of your community struggling to stay connected?
Connection is the marker of a thriving community. What exactly does connection look like, though?
For many, connection is about being in communication with those around them. It’s about knowing what others need, and having others know what they need.
In the world of innovation and entrepreneurship, this has a specific look to it. As the needs of innovators and entrepreneurs develop, it’s critical that the community supports this. If the members of your community struggle to stay connected, then you need an online platform to resolve this issue.
Furthermore, online platforms like the ones we build at Harness provide the members of your community connection. Through authoring their own profiles and connecting with others in and outside their community, connection is enhanced.
The key to connection is in making what’s valuable available.
Does your community have access to valuable resources? The most valuable resources they can access will be in other members of the community. Consequently, it’s important to make access to the greater community easily available.
Is my communication with the members of my community effective?
Leaders constantly face the problem of communication. The problem is not only about relaying information to those you’re leading. Though, that’s obviously important.
The greater problem of communication is ensuring that your message is received and understood. How do you ensure that this happens? Most rely heavily on email for their communication.
They put together a great newsletter, make it aesthetically appealing, cross their fingers and hope for the best. This isn’t necessarily a horrible strategy. In fact, we know that great email campaigns generate great results.
However, effective communication requires frequent communication. People don’t exactly enjoy receiving newsletters or emails—as pretty as they may be—every day.
So how do you effectively communicate with your community then?
Utilizing an online platform enables effective communicating. Ideally, your online platform is the place where all the members of your community “hang out.” It is the place where they go for resource and connection. Additionally, it’s the place your members go to further innovate and create.
As a result, it should be the one of the places you do a lot of your communicating. You can utilize chat channels—a place on our platform for mass communication about ideas—to relay ideas and get feeedback.
You can direct message your community members with important information. Have an event coming up? Publish the marketing materials for it on the platform. Invite your community members (as well as others on the platform) directly to your event.
Online platforms provide a new, effective way for community managers to communicate with their members.
How innovative is my community in reality?
The goal of communities for entrepreneurs and innovators is to inspire more entrepreneurship and innovation. This is self-evident.
What’s not always self-evident is whether your community is actually innovating. What are the measures of innovation? Additionally, how does one track innovation in their respective community?
If your answer to this third question is, “I’m not exactly sure,” two things are in order. First, you deserve a pat on the back for not immediately overstating the success of your community. (This is a legitimate temptation for leaders.)
Second, you should consider an online platform. A quality online platform for your community is one that allow you the ability to track the progress of your community.
For example, you may want to know how many of your members are engaged in a startup. Similarly, you may want to know how many of your community members are engaged in mentorship.
As a result, the quality and amount of innovation occurring in your community is demystified. You can answer this third question with an emphatic “yes!”
In the end, the goal of Harness is to make platforms that add obvious value for leaders and managers of communities. Our chief aim is the promotion of entrepreneurship and innovation. Let’s partner together to make that aim a reality for your community.