Guidelines vs. Recipe for a Talent Community Redux

Editor’s note:  Every have a bad writing day?  I think v1 of this post fell into that category.  This is a revised and expanded version of previous post. 


How do you build a talent community? Is there a step by step method of creating and building a community? Today, I answer those questions differently.


In the past, I described the approach to building community as a recipe. With great confidence, I proclaimed there were six ingredients to the Talent Community Recipe—all you have to do is mix the right elements and your talent community is baked.  My recipe for community included:


1. Strategy: Should the community be about “jobs” or should it be built around a “profession”
2. Brand: Name the community and set up mission/vision/goals
3. Engage: enlist internal champions and show expectations
4. Content Planning: Set up content calendar and select content RSS feeds
5. Measurement of Success: Set up method of tracking activities
6. Conversation: Invite members to the community and begin conversing


I have built communities following the above steps; and I have been disappointed.  I built large communities of several thousand people in which, no one was engaged in conversation.  I built communities where only minimal affinity existed internally or externally.  I build communities that required internal participants to learn a new platform and did not fit into the current workflow.  I built communities that failed to answer the WIIFM (what’s in it for me?) question; in other words-- what value will I receive in this community.  These community initiatives provided me with “experience.”


What that “experience” has taught me is that while the elements and ingredients remain the same, the result can differ from community to community. Because humans are involved, and for the most part uncontrollable; there are some elements to community building that can only be experienced by trial and error.  That is why I now advocate the community building process as Six Talent Community Guidelines.  That is also why I advocate sharing; so that we all can benefit from both success and failure.


Guidelines, not recipe; the reason that that I think in terms of guidelines and not a specific recipe for success is that a recipe presupposes that we have certain prerequisites before beginning the project.  If we thought of it in terms of following a recipe for a baking project, the perquisites could include an oven, a pan, and electricity or gas as well as someone that would be interested in eating the final product.  Without those prerequisites, it doesn’t make any difference if you have a recipe, the baking project will be a failure.  To extend the metaphor to community, there are important aspects of a community that are important to a community’s success; they are things that should be considered before building a talent community. These prerequisites or pre-community success factors are:


Passion: Find a group inside of a company that is passionate or have a shared affinity
Observation: the community inside and outside your organization
Social Behaviors: Note the platforms, customs, as well as your organizations workflows

Unique Promise of Value: Determine how to bring your unique promise of value to this community


I am writing a series of articles that will discuss building communities as I share my experience of the past five years.  I will explore each of the Six Talent Community Guidelines.  But first, I wanted to begin with the pre-community elements or prerequisites.  Today, when I think about building a new community, I want to understand the passion around the affinity group; I want to observe that affinity group inside and outside the organization; I want to better under norms and behaviors on the platforms that I am considering for the community and finally, I want to understand how my brand will bring value to this community.


Next time, the importance of “passion” as a pre-community factor will be highlighted.  I found out that if “No Passion; No Community.”


Interested in the subject of Talent Communities?  I am part of a LinkedIn community called Talent Community Development.  In addition to myself, this group is co-managed by some of the leading thinkers around talent communities; Susan Burns(@TalentSynch), Britney Calkins(@bcalkins), Gail Houston (@ghouston), Kristin Kalscheur (@kkalscheur), Michele Porfilio(@mporfilio), Sherrie Valderrama (@Svalderrama) and Stacy Van Meter (@sjvconsult).  If you would like to join in the conversation about talent community development, I invite you to join Talent Community Development and join in the conversation.

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