Earlier this week I spoke to Lizzie who runs the communications for the Shine 2010 unconference.
We spoke about a lot of things connected to the event. I took part last year and didn’t feel a huge amount of community engagement. It’s funny to think that I feel more positive community cohesion in the Local Government scene than in the Social Enterprise scene, even though I’m a prime suspect for engagement, having started a social enterprise with huge potential in my two years in Nigeria and inherently thinking of business in terms of social impact, without the need for fundraising by donations.
Yesterday Lizzie told me about a volunteer scheme which had been put in place in response to my remarks, where half a day of volunteering would enable you to have free entry to the rest of the day’s events.
SHINE is a big event with absolutely loads going on and it takes a lot of people to keep things running smoothly. We think there’s no-one better to help us do that than volunteers who’d love to come to the event. If you’d like to become a SHINE volunteer, help out for a day and then enjoy the rest of the unconference at your leisure, take a look at the kinds of things we’ll need your help with, and enter your details below if you’d like to volunteer during 13th-15th May, in central London. more details here
Thinking along the lines of what we’ve learned about community building, which essentially is aimed at forming a strong group of followers who have such a strong belief in what you do that they use their voice, connections, time, etc to help you further your goals, I’ve been left feeling that this approach lacks in appeal.
It doesn’t even make me feel that I want to take it up, as much as I really want to go and want to get in free (and considering how much I would potentially have to contribute, I think I should.) Consider that these are people who want to come to your event – most of them self-starters, with a fairly high opinion of themselves, and obviouslyfairly interesting views of the world, since they are interested in social enterprise: These are people you want to listen to.
Joining the event under this scheme instantly downgrades them to a lower level of attendee, which doesn’t invite a positive networking experience. I would have volunteered to facilitate conversations, or lead a group of conversation facilitators, but not to join a group girls who “think on their feet” (what a demeaning expression) and point your way if you’re lost.
So today’s community builder lesson is: don’t make your (potential) brand advocates feel like cheap labour. If you have simple signposter jobs – consider paying people to do those. You can’t pay for your ambassadors They are some of the most important assets you have, involve them, listen to them, give them schwag if you can.
Watch this space for a great WorkSnug Ambassador programme we are just about to release