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 :)