#STEMConnext: Building a community

Here are my top takeaways from STEMConnext first STEM Networking Event held in Maidenhead.

“connecting people to people, businesses to businesses in your local area”

The first event comes packed with a really great line up of highly experienced panelists, all bringing together a really broad and diverse perspective on starting, running and managing a community.

The panelists on the night:

Kayleigh McHale, Senior Technology Consultant, Mortimer Spinks & Co-Founder #YouEqualTech

Patrick Binchy, Deputy Chief Operating Officer, Three.

Amanda Ayres, the founder and owner of the award-winning Business Girls Network, a dynamic networking community for women.

Siobhan OH Baker, an experienced Community Manager and an Apprentice Software Developer, has had experience working for startups and Code First: Girls.

Amanda Newman, “The Career Mum” and Account Delivery Executive at Microsoft.

So here we go:

  • Just get started. There will never be the perfect moment, you’ll never have enough time, the stars will never just align. Get started and see where it takes you.
  • Have a purpose. Think carefully about the vision/goal of your community. What are you trying to achieve by bringing people together? It doesn’t need to be something that you live or die by, but having a vision will help you focus.
  • Be consistent. Consistency is key, not only with your message but also your cadence in which in send your messages out.
  • Don’t stop. Persistence is a must as there will be a time when only a handful of members will be in your community. But don’t let this stop you, keep going and your community will keep growing.
  • Ask for help. Ask owners of other communities for support when and if you need it. If you’re facing difficulties within your community then ask others for help. You aren’t going to be the first person to experience these issues, so lean on others and ask for help. Don’t be scared to be vulnerable.
  • Use the channels that feel right, but don’t forget about the importance of human interaction. Digital channels are great for growing communities but don’t forget the importance of human interaction. Is there a way your community can exist both on and offline?
  • Don’t reinvent the wheel. If you find another community similar to yours, don’t think of it as competition, this of it as a possibility to collaborate. Reach out and see if there’s a way you can support each other.
  • Success won’t come overnight. Don’t expect to switch your community on and for it to become an overnight success. It will take time.
  • Diversity is about inclusion and a fair playing field for all. It is not about exclusion. So be open to anyone who wants to join your community.
  • A community isn’t about competing with others, it’s about supporting those in your community and raising the bar for everyone.
  • Community and Networking are 2 different things right? Nope. They work hand in hand. Networking is vital to help grow your community. You have to be out there and put yourself in those uncomfortable situations to help your community grow.

If you were at the event and have any other takeaways then please feel free to comment below.

Join our Facebook group here: STEMConnext, follow us on Twitter @stemconnext and Linked In: STEMconnext Linkedin Group to keep up to date with further events and comms.