Prerequisites are important before launching into many endeavors; essentially it involves have a certain level of knowledge or expertise before engaging in an activity. The second prerequisite for building a talent community is mapping the passionate affinity group to its counterparts outside your organization. If an external community or an unassembled group of people outside of your organization are not having conversations about the affinity you want to advance, do not attempt to build a talent community. Similar to the passion (No Passion, No Community) for the cause that is part of the makeup of internal champions, the external audience needs to have an energy and motivation for discussion. Building a talent community that resides outside your organization may require a deeper trust building with your target audience to identify champions and partners than internal partnerships. Be careful that you do not get caught up in Energized Incompetence.
Now that you are armed with internal champions, a common mistake is to overlook the amount of nurturing, trust building: and art that is required to engage the external community. To me, it is like experiencing energized incompetence—you know the feeling that you have 1-2 days after attempting to use the techniques that you learned in a seminar or training. The methods and process that seemed so easy and unforgettable during the demonstration process turned out to require more skills than one gains from observation. It takes me back to the early days of the Internet late in the 20th Century.
I vividly remember the first AIRS (Advanced Internet Recruiting Strategies) training I attended; I was simply blown away by the potential of implementing their techniques. It was in the late 1990’s and was billed as tap into the secrets of the deep web. For me, it offered an opportunity to actually use the computer that was sitting on my desk.
I was introduced to the X-Ray Search—imagine the powerful feeling of finally being able to see what information was contained on a company’s web site. The CIA or FBI had nothing on us. Then there was the Flip Search—if you went to a search engine (www.hotbot.com or www.altavista.com) and put some key words, the results would show people that were linked to a company’s web site. We learned about finding lists, resumes, and how to search web communities like GeoCities and AOL (America Online). The AIRS trainer was engaging and skillfully moved through the presentation. She made it look easy. She made the audience feel we understood the mysteries of the deep recesses World Wide Web. I could not wait to get back to the office and try these techniques.
The next day, I raced to Egghead Software and purchased Spry’s Internet in a Box. I booted up my PC; installed the software and dialed up the Internet. I pulled out my notes from the training and decided warm up on a Flip Search. Nothing happen; at least I did not have the type of results our AIRS trainer had demonstrated to her audience, just the day before. Then, I attempted to X-Ray search; the skill that I most wanted to use. I put in the “site: “command in the browser and observed the results; nothing like the success that our trainer enjoyed. As you can imagine, I was very frustrated; I had been exposed to potentially game changing techniques and they just would not work for me. I had all the excitement for this new technology and none of the skills required to obtain the desired results—energized incompetence.
[Note: The AIRS example is meant to be an example of my energized incompetence and is no means a reflection of AIRS training. By the way, AIRS listened to their audience and made changes in the method of training–hopefully all AIRS grads and energized and competent.]
The easiest way to find potential community is to “listen” to the web conversations and determine who might be discussing your organization or the affinity group that you desire to engage. A variety of useful and free tools can assist you in your mission. I normally start with Google Alerts; Google’s Blog Finder and use iGoogle as a mash up for the different streams of information. You can add Monitter to observe the Twittersphere and Facepinch to monitor Facebook and you should have a great start on two of the most popular social platforms. LinkedIn Communities can be searched on the handy groups search feature or by using the “site:linkedin.com groups” on Google.
Identifying external affinity groups that can become champions is the second prerequisite for building a talent community. As in the case of internal communities, only about 1% of your community will be writers and creators; another 9% will edit and comment; while the remaining 90% will just join and listen. Without engaging these brand ambassadors, all or your great energy and aspirations will fall into the heap of incompetence. Now that you have identified your community members, how do collaborate effectively together? The third prerequisite for building a talent community is creating Good Citizens.
Interested in Talent Communities? I am part of a LinkedIn community built around Talent Community Development that is co-managed this group by some of the leading thinkers and early adopters of talent communities; Susan Burns (@TalentSynch), Britney Calkins (@bcalkins), Gail Houston (@ghouston), Kristin Kalscheur (@kkalscheur), Michele Porfilio (@mporfilio), Marvin Smith (@talentcommunity), 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