After operating Inside919 for 3 years I've learned a couple things and one is that larger numbers of members does not a great community make.
So, I will be doing some things to greatly reduce membership.
The fact is that we were a more dynamic community with more participation when we were smaller.
To some we've simply become another place to post a Profile, many have turned off all communication from the network (so no one can contact them) and my mission is really more important to me than those outcomes.
In the time of serving you I've found that my current model is simply not working the way I'd like and as I prepare to launch other networks across the US I must tighten up the value proposition offered a bit more so this becomes more important to others, maybe you.
Pat jumps on soapbox...
To me this is more than a business... I wanted to start a movement with the under-served local micro business person helping each other create an unfair competitive advantage over larger entities trying to take over their local marketplace. [Yes, I own a pair of rose colored glasses.]
We really can create this advantage and I submit we already do if we'll work better together. Inside919 will become a catalysis for this change in 2012 or it will simply go away.
Okay, I'm off my soapbox.
Good news... I've been very busy the past couple months working on creating more value for members and will start sharing these tools and opportunities with those interested soon.
Please pay a bit more attention to my upcoming messages to you - these changes will have an affect on how the network operates and I do not wish to surprise you.
I just wanted to give you a heads up as I prepare for these BIG changes.
[NOTE: This was sent to all members as of Jan 20, 2012]
UPDATE AFTER EMAIL AND INPUT: Just to be clear the upcoming changes
have little to do with Attending Events.
Sorry for the length of this post but it is important that I share as much of my thinking on this before pulling some triggers.
I do not want to ambush anyone with these changes, but a couple big changes are coming and membership will get smaller and in my mind more valuable to those who remain.
First off it's hard and time consuming to attend events and frankly I think many of you are attending too many events and thinking of it as a "Prospecting" activity instead of a "Relationship Building" one - there is a huge difference and once learned it all gets much more productive.
So, I say only attend those events: 1. where you know people [enhance current relationships], 2. see that the person you want to meet will be there [strategically meet those you can help or can help you] 3. agree to introduce others at an event [go to an event with someone you know and have them introduce you to those they know and you do the same for them].
Here is a short video that shares this lesson as good as I ever could - (Thanks Bill Davis :)
Since I think there are too many networking events already, ours are simply a way to give our members an "opportunity" if it works - I know that Inside919 events are located in places that are distant to many of our members, including myself.
I work with whomever will work with me and wants to help you, I'm fortunate to have found some great folks who own businesses and welcome us. Truth be told I'm really not much of an event planner.
I'd love to have events going on all over the 919 - someplace closer to each of you - however, I'd need a bit of help in this area and in frankness have not been able to enlist much - I have a plan for this as well moving forward (Town Group Leaders - want to help? :).
The upcoming changes really have more to do with "dynamic activity" between fellow members and this can be done with 1 on 1s that you set up, emails of introduction, forum discussions, article commenting, sharing other member contributions (that you find of value) on other social spaces or simply helping and getting help from your fellow Inside919er.
My need to take action really comes from the complete "disengagement" with the network for many who had the extra 15 minutes needed to complete a profile. It makes no sense for anyone to join any organization they have no intention of participating in.
I created a question when we first launched "Will you commit to adding 1 positive item to Inside919 each month? (it can be a Question, an Answer, an Invite or really anything positive)" all but about 5 people have said "Yes" to this and yet many never come back or won't even reply to other members :(
When we had 1000 members we had the same number of members attending events as we do today - the number of online members have increased 3 X's yet the number of offline interactions has not increased at all.
Now this has less to do with ones ability to get to an event and more to do with the increase in membership of those who simply view the network as another place to have a profile and "see what happens" - we are not a very good "Advertising or Prospecting" network.
Like all groups of people there seems to be a sweet spot of how many are too few, how many are too many and how many are just right.
I'm going to try to get us back to this just right sweet spot again knowing that upturning the apple cart is always risky - my intention was never to have huge numbers and I might "cap" membership somehow going forward.
I'd rather have a line of folks wanting to join a network that's working than have members trying to reach other members who have completely disengaged and are not even reachable and do not provide the professional courtesy of replying to emails or comments.
I also want to cut back on those who (even when educated) continue to decide to send bulk unsolicited emails to other members or try to use the network as a sales lead tool. We are not that and I'd shut us down if we become that.
Please understand that it's okay if Inside919 is not for you, spend your time in places where you can serve and be served by others and that "fits" you.
In my mind I will be doing many folks a big favor by releasing them to pursue more beneficial opportunities.
Thanks, if you read all of this looks like I might owe you a cup of coffee or adult beverage next time we meet :)
Replies are closed for this discussion.
Agreed that larger numbers aren't always better, and I've always appreciated the local focus.
I've been a sporadic contributor at best, though I've made some valuable connections, and hopefully have contributed some things to some people along the way too.
There's a balance to be struck somehow between smaller numbers and a 'cliquish' feel. At any size, a group can feel like it's a closed member group regardless of stated intentions, and I do think the face to face meetups can help people feel like the network is more than just another forum for posting. But I also know all of this is a lot of work, and that we all only get out of it what we put in.
Looking forward to the changes and announcements :)
Actually Michael you've been a very good contributor - quality over quantity :) and I've been personally/professionally fortunate to have connected with you here.
I just think the network got fat and I have to determine the best way to get it back in shape.
My complete focus will be on delivering huge value to whomever decides to stay.
thank you for the kind words, and the feeling is mutual. While I've not been able to contribute regularly, I've benefited from the quality here certainly, and have given direct business to others as well (insurance, etc).
I agree with the points you mention. Have you considered having a directory approach to finding and connecting to members? I think it would allow people to quickly locate and connect with those that may be able to be a good “fit” for their company or current need that needs to be addressed. Right now it’s set up more like a forum and there are too many “groups”. I don’t think there is a good use of talent outside the group formation idea. I could see using a similar approach that Linked-In has and marriage it with something like a BNI approach. The groups could then be formed based on actual needs rather than just connecting to connect. You could still have forums but set them up based on a specific need, question, or request for help and allow those that can best assist do so.
I personally don’t use it much because I was having a difficult time determining WHO I needed to pursue. The approach is too shot-gun and not enough focus. Having categories for business type could help people know who to connect to for a specific purpose or goal. That’s how the BNI principle is run and it seems to work for them. I don’t know that you need to reduce membership but give the members a way to make the most out of the members that are already there.
I don’t know if I explained it as well “verbally” as it is in my head. Let me know what you think.
@Katherine - I'll not be taking the network in the direction you suggest - but will be able to provide some easy training on how one can accomplish what you suggest - I'm sorry I've not had this available before.
I'll try to get a video on how to do what you've asked soon.
Thanks very much for the feedback.
Hi Katherine, I agree. I have not been active for a while because things just seemed to get overwhelming for me and I didn't know what direction I needed to go in. I think Inside919 is an excellent network and look forward to future refinements and hope I can begin to contribute more consistently.
I'm taking notes :)
I use the network all of the time and find it very easy to connect with the right people using the all members search feature. I'm not sure reducing the numbers is necessary. Sometimes people are dormant and then make a wonderful connection and become active.
From my perspective you have created a wonderful tool and those who are not using it are the losers! A hammer that stays in a toolbox is as good as no hammer at all!
I agree that there are too many groups. Many have very few members and little or no activity. Many groups overlap in focus and could be combined.
You are seeing things that we don't see and are in a much better position to see what needs to be changed. I look forward to seeing what good ideas you have to improve on what you are already doing.
Thanks Carolyn you are a valued member.
I don't simply look at "visible activity" like contributions to make decisions - we have many incredible members who are not visibly active in the sense that they create articles, post events, post videos or the like - they are engaged and use the network to find and make connections (something impossible to track) and attend events.
That is not what I'm trying to move away from.
We have anywhere between 500 and 1000 people who have created Profiles with no intend on ever coming back and who have made it next to impossible to contact them.
This IS a problem and one that we'll address.
I will be working to reduce the membership to those who really see and gain value (they could gain value without being visible) and help those who see this as a place to simply create a profile on the chance that it "might" benefit them move on.
Your vision and mission continue to put us first. I like seeing "active" inSiders almost as much as you do.
The quality and value you give us, is second to none.
The platform you have created is SO appreciated. I look forward to staying involved for years and years!!
Appreciated :) - but we can do more and get better.
I really appreciate those who are sending me emails with suggestions and things that have stopped them from gaining value - I'm taking notes and good will come from this.
Pat, I look forward to learn more about your future plans for inside919.