The first perquisite for building a talent community is passion; and that desire is a core factor on which a community is established. If there is not an affinity for your community within your organization, do not attempt to build a talent community. The lesson of the past 5 years is that most communities will fail if there is not the energy or the motivation to keep the conversation going. Building a talent community takes time, nurturing and cultivation; in a world of transactions, talent acquisition people can lose sight of prize.
What happens when there is no passion? My friend, and colleague at Microsoft, Heather Tinguely (@heathertinguely; Program Manager, Global Talent Labs) presented some groundbreaking research at a Social Recruiting Summit concerning the 200+ online staffing communities at Microsoft. Heather pronounced nearly 80% of the communities “dead.” In addition, nearly 50% of the communities had less than 100 members. Heather’s in-depth research, investigated online talent communities on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other platforms. Heather’s findings suggest that “greater engagement is better;” that community members seek the “human” element; and that a group needs to be “large enough to have a quality dialogue.” And she offered one solid piece of advice—“don’t create communities on what you need, create groups based on the interests of your target audience.”
Community thought leader Jakob Neilson suggest that only 1% of people create content and 9% of online visitors comment on content; and 90% are lurkers that read or observe, but to not contribute. It is very important to identify the passionate insiders is a key pre-community factor.
One of the best examples of passion and affinity based community creation is the We Still Serve Community at Microsoft. Fresh off being awarded a Freedom Award, Sean Kelley (@pxkelley), a very astute Staffing Director, seized the opportunity to leverage the 500+ member military affinity group and enlisted them to become evangelists for Microsoft. Sean imagined Microsoft as an employer of choice for military veterans. Sean recruited R.J. Naugle, to lead the effort and assembled a large virtual team comprised of staffing leaders, recruiters and sourcers. In addition to the communities on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter an innovative web site featured a job decoder that translated military experience into Microsoftese (or vise versa) and live chat with veterans that work at Microsoft. What makes the chat unique is the voices on Microsoft side of the conversation are veteran volunteers, recruiters. I believe that We Still Serve is a prototype of how talent communities will be built. It will be interesting to watch this community evolve under the watchful guidance of Joe Wallis (@joewallis). We Still Serve, is a great example of capturing the passion of a group of internal employees and making them ambassadors for the brand.
Identifying internal champions is the first prerequisite for building a community. If only about 1% people that are passionate enough to write about their interests, we must be very diligent in recruiting brand ambassadors. Engaging and nurturing those writers and storytellers will be critical during the first year or so of a communities’ existence. At some point, a community will reach a tipping point and have a life of its own. To live on its own, a talent community needs the right mix of internal champions and external fans. We look for passion and affinity internally; next time, I will discuss how to discover the communities and potential community members that are external to your organization.
Interested in Talent Communities? I am part of a LinkedIn community built around Talent Community Development. I (@talentcommunity) co-managed this group along with some of the leading thinkers around talent communities; Susan Burns(@TalentSynch), Britney Calkins(@bcalkins), Gail Houston (@ghouston), Kristin Kalscheur (@kkalscheur), Michele Porfilio(@mporfilio), Sherie Valderrama (@Svalderrama) and Stacy Van Meter (@sjvconsult). If you would like to join in the conversation about talent community development, I invite you to connect with us at Talent Community Development and join in the conversation.