Lost in the winding streets of Venice and late for dinner, I was in a hurry.
Using the map on my phone, I realized how much technology has eliminated confusion from some of our most challenging moment.
Thanks to the map, I knew 1️⃣ where I wanted to go, 2️⃣ how to get there, and – most of all – 3️⃣ where I was.
On one screen, in seconds, I knew what to do.
Are Your Members Lost in the Community?
In many communities, members feel like I did in Venice – they have a destination (the community’s goals or activities) but lack a clear understanding of where they stand.
The challenge for community builders looking to create sustainable communities is greater than meeting basic needs. It goes beyond just education or events. It has nothing to do with the data you gather for yourself.
Helping members understand their position within the community's journey should be a top priority.
Technology and Community Expectations
GPS technology has transformed our experiences out in the real world. We’re accustomed to knowing exactly where we are at all times.
But it's a human expectation now, and it's no longer about maps. We expect to know where we are all the time.
This includes community experiences. Members not only want to know what's happening in the community; they also want to understand where they fit in.
This doesn't have to be a complicated solution, but it does have to be part of what you build.
Without it, your members will be moving in the dark, attempting to find a way forward. Possible? Yes. Optimal? Nope.
Guiding Members to Their Place
For cohort-based courses, orientation is straightforward, with everyone starting simultaneously and following the same path.
In communities without a structured timeline, it’s essential to provide mechanisms for members to gauge their progress and position.
Action Steps for Successful Orientation
- Conduct a regular introductory session or make a guidebook for new members.
- Regularly assess and communicate the community’s progress, highlighting achievements and milestones of specific members (as role models) when appropriate.
- Use events to create an environment where members can easily connect with others on similar paths.
Infrastructure for a Member-Friendly Experience
- Clear Community Roadmap: Outline the community’s goals, activities, and expected milestones.
- Personalized Checkpoints: Create tools or systems that allow members to assess their progress and engagement level.
- Regular Updates: Provide updates that help members understand their journey in the context of the larger community.
Working With Your People
Don't forget, your existing community plays a pivotal role. It’s not just about documents, landing pages, or structured exercises; it’s equally about the human connections and interactions within the community.
When existing members take an active role in helping newcomers, it does more than just orient the new members. It strengthens the community fabric, making it more welcoming and supportive.
You create a dynamic, self-evolving orientation mechanism by fostering a culture where members assist and guide each other.
You can do this by:
- Introducing new members to the broader community.
- Connecting members with shared interests using DMs.
- Creating opportunities for members to work in small groups.
The Final Word: The Power of Place
Helping members find where they belong and how to move forward is key to a thriving community experience.
Just like a traveler with a GPS, community members who understand their position and direction are more engaged, satisfied, and likely to contribute positively to the community’s growth.
And to stick around longer!