This week we’re delighted to host our 10th Guest Blog; welcoming Andrew Smith, co-founder of independent Aberdeen business development company, nextbusiness.
Following the development of their mentoring service, ambition, the company launched the Aberdeen Business Network site, now Aberdeen’s largest online business community! Here, Andrew tells The UP Blog about pros, cons and eyebrow raising moments he has encountered.
Running An Online Community is Fun!
I’m very fortunate that as part of our business I get to run an online business community. ABNCommunity.com is Aberdeen’s largest online business community, a free, highly-active interactive resource with almost 2500 members.
And it IS fun to run, I’m not just saying that! However, probably best I back up that statement with some evidence….
Ours is just one of millions of social networks – online communities that allow members to interact with each other in a number of different ways such as discussion forums, blogs, videos, private messaging, etc. We’re simply a local version of one of these communities, coming in close to LinkedIn in terms of nature (we’re a business website), but with a collective sense of humour too.
The best bit? It’s great to see new business start-ups at the beginning of their exciting and nervous business journey. And when they ask the community for help, it’s almost always there. One of our newer members recently said;
“It’s not just about getting business though, it’s also a way of supporting each other in business and I think this online community is great tool for that. I’ll definitely be recommending joining to anyone in business.”
The most fun bit? Some of the headings used by members in their posts and some of the interaction within the Forum. I never thought I’d see the day that someone could post ‘XXX Rated Filth’ and have it completely in context and directly related to their business, without any naughtiness! ‘Get an ass like Beyonce’ is another personal favourite…
Worst bit? Sadly it’s new members that join and ‘Sell, Sell, Sell’ straight away (for the record, not many do this but some do). That’s a bit like joining a physical community and immediately going round the doors trying to sell something. And when inevitably this approach doesn’t work, these new members drift away without taking the time to really interact with the membership.
The members that benefit the most from our site and others like it are those that see it as a community and adopt a reciprocal approach. In that sense it’s no different from other social media and traditional (offline) business networking – you help others and give to the community and inevitably good will come back. This can be in the way of support, information or advice, as well as new business.
And for anyone who has recently started running an online community or is about to start, a key piece of guidance would be to make time to listen to what your members think. After all, it’s their content that will build your site, not yours. And at the centre of the community, you’re in the best possible position to ask questions and gain feedback . You can shape and influence the community but it’s the members who will ultimately decide what to post.
In summary, if you’re not yet a member of a local online community, join one; if you’re already a member, get involved; and if you already run one, keep enjoying it.
A little about Andrew
Andrew studied Business Studies at the University of Strathclyde and worked in a number of sales/business development roles before starting his first business in 2000. In 2008 he co-founded nextbusiness with fellow Director Mike Watson, providing a range of business development solutions to the local SME market
ABNCommunity.com is Aberdeen and Scotland’s largest independent online business community with almost 2500 members. Currently growing at a rate of over 100 members per month, this free resource is open to all business owners and staff within all Aberdeen/Aberdeenshire businesses and organisations