I remembered the movie Field of Dreams. “If you build it, they will come.”
And I built it. I set up a community of practice for my biggest area of focus, internal and employee communications. We meet every other month via Zoom, for an hour. At each meeting we hear from a speaker and then do some mixing and mingling. The format is simple, managing the group is simple, and I have reconnected with dozens of people I adore. It's a start at rebuilding my network, and it's been enriching.
I recycled the idea of a small community of practice, similar to one that I had been part of years back, and it’s a concept that anyone could replicate. In case you’re inspired, here’s what I learned, and a recipe to start your own group…
Tips for starting a community of practice
- Set your scope – In the world of “comms professionals,” this group is focused on internal and employee comms. Just one slice of the pie. We also have some graphic designers and event planners in the mix.
- Define the purpose – My initial goals for creating this group were to have a forum for benchmarking, ideas sharing, and easy networking. We revisit the goals informally at each meeting, to make sure the time is well spent.
- Start small – I wanted to keep the group small as we were in start-up mode. Our initial group was about two dozen people. We have about half of that number in attendance at each meeting. To create the list, I about spent 10 minutes clicking through my LinkedIn contacts, drafted a list of people who might be interested, and invited that group to join as inaugural members. Since then our inaugural members have shared the invite with friends. The group is already growing. With intention.
- Keep it simple – Our meeting format is quite simple. One hour, every other month. Half of the meeting is a presentation on a cool thing (we rotate speakers), and the remainder is for sharing wants and needs. (Also noteworthy: If you set up your own group, you can pick meeting times that work for you!)
Have you ever set up or managed a group like this? What tips do you have?