Help Key Members Build Their Reputations
Spot potential stars of your community and build their reputations.
Communities need stars. They need leaders they look up to. They orientate around the key figures in the group.
It's a skill to spot potential stars in the community and gradually build their reputations. You can mention them and their contributions in news posts, interview them for the community, invite them to write guest columns, give them areas of the community to be responsible for.
More than this, you need to build strong personal relationships with these members. You need to know what their interests are and how you can support their efforts.
My first online community was for a video game. We used this technique (by accident) to create stars out of many of the top players. It provided a strong boost to the community, provided lots of great content, and encouraged others to increase the quality of their contributions to reach star level.
Once you have stars, you have people you can write about, to support, to pay attention to. If one of your stars has an idea, you can throw the support of the community behind him/her.
The challenge is to first identify who the stars might be (people with unique charisma, backgrounds, expertise, excellent contributions, skill etc…) and gradually grow both your relationship with them and their relationship with the community.