How Great Groups Help Members Connect
- Robin S. Sharma
Your club meeting just finished. What a success.
You met interesting people. You’re excited about the project. And you met someone with a similar obsession for Star Wars fan fiction.
You’re going to make him your friend.
So, you turn to your phone. But, there’s one problem.
You don’t have his number.
On a personal scale, this isn’t a big deal. You can always wait for the next meeting. For your club, however, this is dangerous sign. For every connection that’s not made, the group grows weaker.
Great organizations help members connect. Sharing contact information with a vCard is a powerful way to facilitate connection.
Please note: being a Sith Lord is not considered a connection
Research from MIT shows that succesful groups have a high density of 1-on-1 relationships. If, for example, your club has 3 members: A, B, and C, there are three potential connections. A-B, A-C, and B-C. If your group has 10 members, there are 45 possible friendships.
Most groups don’t reach that number. Instead, one or two people will know everyone. From there, other individuals will only know a subset of the other members.
If you’ve ever hosted a dinner party, you’ll understand this problem. You know all of the invitees. But, the invitees definitely don’t know each other. Great hosts close these connection loops: introducing guests to each other.
Great organizations do the same thing: providing opportunities for individuals to connect. At Harvard, the Harvard Directory helps anyone in the community find contact information for anyone else. Similarly, companies have adopted software like Yammer to develop internal social networks. These platforms helps employees connect with each other across the company.
How can you help your organization connect?
Here’s one tip: share contact information by creating a vCard.
A vCard compiles multiple individuals contact information into a downloadable format. By downloading a vCard via email, you can add dozens of contacts to your phone at once.This eliminates the need for individual members to ask every other member for their number.
Here’s a brief explanation on how to create a vCard using a mac.
Club leaders should act less like glorified dictators and more like over-involved matchmakers.
Your job is to create a cohesive group on campus. To do so, you need to facilitate as many cross-connections as possible. Sharing contact info is a great first step.
A vCard isn’t enough, of course. You need to run meetings where everyone contributes, leave time for socializing, and create unique experiences for members to share.
But, the first step is that simple number.
So, the next time you meet that boy dressed as a disheveled storm trooper…
Shouldn’t you be prepared?