Pitching a Tent - Building Online Communities

Earlier this week, I read an article that discussed the long pole in the tent concept. Unfortunately, I misplaced the link and the discussion that had to do with leadership.
The essence of the article was as follows (my best paraphrase):
What you most want to be noticed for in a job, that's what you should put on the resume under the job title and dates of employment. Although there may be many other things you did in that job, you focus on the longest pole in the tent...the one that was most visible.

The rationale for this is that people find it easier to remember only ONE thing about someone and that's it. Just one thing.
As I reflected on the veracity of this assertion, I couldn't help but think to all the top 10, 50 or 100 lists Around the Corner blog gets listed on. In some, the focus is on leadership. In others, it's Moodle. Of course, that confirms something Tom Hoffman (TuttleSVC) once wrote in angry comment--"Pick one thing and write about that." Of course, it is advice I chose to disregard because my interest is in many areas, not any one in particular. I like shallow learning, seeing what lies over the horizon.

There are consequences to looking for the next big thing or thinking something easier will come along. For example, in building an online community, I imagined that thousands of Texas educators would flock to the Texas for Technology-Enhanced Education (Texas4TEE) banner.

I imagined Texas4TEE as a free, open group for Texas educators committed to blending technology without the obstacles of membership dues, like other state-wide organizations chose/choose to charge. I started "pitching a big tent" on various networks, beginning in GoogleGroups, Facebook, Linked In, and now, Google Plus Communities.

It feels like members are scattered all over the place, each preferring their own network. RSS feeds make it easy to float content into various areas, but that can be a full-time job...and there are weeks that go by that nothing happens because I've simply forgotten to post something.

Looking back over the last year, I have to ask myself, Should I focus on just one avenue, one way of connecting with folks? If yes, which one? If no, how do I get others to step forward to grow this?


Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin's blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure


Bill Fitzgerald said…
Work in the areas/places that make sense to you.

There needs to be a compelling vision/need that is shared by people that cross multiple groups of tangentially related stakeholders for an online space to be more than ephemeral. Maintaining an online space usually requires the dedicated work of a community manager. Without these two things (at least to start) an online community will have a hard time flourishing.

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