…when there is an overwhelming demand for one.
Most organizations launch their community far too early. They stagger along for years without ever reaching a critical mass of people. You don’t need a big bang launch, but you do need a decent pop. You need to launch and quickly get to a few hundred people within a few weeks. These people should be passionate about the community concept already.
If you don’t have relationships with the top influencers in your sector, an audience of hundreds (or, ideally, thousands of people), or a solid group of 50+ members committed to participating in the community, keep going until you do.
This is what the CHIP process is for. It’s to build huge demand for the community before it exists. You should be constantly out there scheduling coffee meetings, attending meetup groups, and reaching out to potential attendees to get the community going.
You should design a community that breaks new ground, brings together a different group of people, and solves new problems. People should be incredibly excited by the idea of it before it exists.
Few people will casually drift by and join the community. It’s all on you to make it happen. To find people, talk to them, and gradually build your tribe. The time to launch a community (i.e. with a platform for people to chat to one another) is when your audience practically demands it…when you can’t keep up….when there are just too many great ideas to share.