Training Stakeholders To Engage In Communities

Recently there seems to be a surge in requests for various types of community training for different community stakeholders.

This seems to be matched by confusion over what type of training is required for each type of stakeholder. Often all types of staff members, regardless of whether they’re going to be directly engaging in the community (or how they’re expected to engage) attend the same training.

This doesn’t lead to the best outcome.

So here is how we advise on training for each group and how we usually structure different training options for different groups.

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It varies a lot by the organisation, but the broad contours of what’s required are usually similar from one organisation to the next.

Essentially:

  • Executives. Train your execs to understand what a community is, why you need one, what resources are required, and what time-frame is realistic (make sure you have lots of examples). Make sure this is participatory so they are ‘co-designing’ the solution with you. This will be custom material we (or you) develop for them.
  • Success/support/product staff. You want to motivate this group to respond to questions, but not in a customer-support style. Teach them to engage with empathy and how to harness the value generated by the community. This will be a mixture of custom material and on-demand material.
  • Community Managers. Train this group in the full process of engaging and building a community. They need to understand the full picture. You can use on-demand training courses people can progress through at their own speed or host intensive in-person workshops to get people rapidly up to speed quickly.
  • Directors of Community. At this level, your challenges become niche and not covered through common training programs. Instead, you need mentors, good relationships with your vendors, and to find a peer group who can share their hard-earned expertise with you. You need a small budget for this.
  • Members. Depending upon your community, this group might mean (your founding members, superusers, or, for private communities, employees/member-based groups). These groups need to be motivated to engage, identify what they want from the community, as well as what they can contribute (along with advice about being a leader).

Pound for pound, investing in training usually delivers the single biggest return for community professionals today. Set aside the time to train your stakeholders. You will be amazed by the results. And if you don’t have time, get help to do it.

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