Wednesday, April 05, 2006

How to NOT build community.

Over the past couple of days, I've had an e-mail dialog with the organizer of a group for marketing. It all began shortly after I added the group to my list. I noticed several very pointed e-mails asking people to RSVP for the upcoming gathering. So, I submitted my RSVP. On the day of the meetup itself, I learned that if I attended the meetup - I would be there alone.

I would like to share with you the dialog I had with the group organizer. This, in my mind, is exactly how NOT to motivated people to get involved with a group.

From the organizer to me:
I am not coming out and hope you get this message since I don't have your number to call. One person is not worth a meetup confirming. Please e-mail me back ideas so we can team up and talk outside of the group. Sorry for any inconvience.For you being dedicated enough to confirm I want to make assistant organizer of you want.

Xxxx Xxxx

From the organizer to the entire group:
I requested a e-mail at XXX@XXX and only got one response. So lets go for next thursday at the same time and hopefully a better response for confirmation. I am not doing this for free and paying 20 dollars literally to make this happen for fun. So next time you say yes and cancel there will be a 5 dollar fee for canceling. To use a place I need headcounts or to want to invite special guests I am not wasting their time either. If you dont pay the penalty fee you will be kicked out. You will be e-mailed my address to mail the fee as well.

From me to the organizer:

I wanted to let you know that this type of motivational approach really turns me off to the group altogether.

I don't know how you would enforce a $5 cancellation fee, but I know that I will never pay one. I understand that you're upset about the lack of participation in your group - but I don't think threatening people who cancel is going to work to your benefit.

I think you'd be more successful if you found positive approaches to attract people to the meetings.

Just my $0.02. Best of luck.

From the organizer to me:
Dear Xxxx,
I run this group and will do what I want. If you want to be a member you will pay or get kicked out. You are a grown man with no fee to be here and I pay 20 dollars a month . So if you take my time and say you will be there . On top of that I make arrangements on a certain head count . In the end I look bad telling an owner one count and 2 show up. I have a busy schedule and am not doing this for fun or paying this fee hoping someone shows up. Thanks for your 2 cents ,but my word is final at all times. You being turned off is the least of my concerns . I need a devoted group not time takers.

You can probably already tell what is wrong with his approach. He's bitter towards the very members he's trying to recruit. His negative energy will continue to push people away from him. I believe his core fault is his attitude of entitlement. He seems to feel that people owe him their attendence because he's invested his time and money in the group. This is the wrong attitude to have, and it will only lead to disappointment.

When you build your communities - either virtual or in the real world - do it for the joy and the fun. If you start with a "this better pay off" attitude, you've already failed.

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