Helping Your Members Connect

26 Jul

Getting connected with other people who share your interests and aspirations is arguably the most valuable aspect of professional networking technologies, and the most compelling argument for their deployment in an association.

Professional networking technologies take their cue from social networks such as Facebook. Those networks, and others, have taught us that very powerful social connections can be achieved between people when a critical mass forms around a common interest, and is supported by appropriate communication tools. Likewise, professional networking technologies support professional interactions among people who share common professional interests (for example, members of the same profession).

Discovery is one of the primary (if not the primary) benefits of professional networks. Discovery, in this context, means finding something or someone of value to you in your job or profession, which you would not likely have found were it not for the professional network technology deployed in your association.

The reason this is so important is because there are often natural barriers to communication and interaction. Your members may be physically distributed, so that it is hard for them to get together in person. Even when there are enough members to actually get together for a meeting, it can be challenging to find times and places that work for everyone.

AssociCom supports discovery in a very direct way. AssociCom tracks all content added or modified in the system. For example, it records when someone adds new content to the library, or when someone answers a question. AssociCom’s relationship browser then allows this information to be viewed in an intuitive graphical fashion. The relationship browser view is centered on a particular item of content or a person. Around that central item, the browser shows other people or content that are related to it.

For example, you can focus the relationship browser on a person and you will then see all the content they have added, questions that they have asked or answered, other users they are connected to, etc. By clicking on one of those other items, you refocus the browser on that particular item and you then see all of the items and users it is related to.

In this way, you can very quickly explore both the content in the system and the users participating in the community. The discovery process is driven by your interests and focused on a small enough set of items and people, that it is not overwhelming. The relationship browser provides a powerful tool to help your members connect with one another, and that’s what community is all about.

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