Using an Online Group to Connect With Like-Minded Locals

Years ago my husband and I moved far away from family and friends so he could pursue a graduate degree at Purdue. I was expecting our first child and transitioning from being a teacher to being a stay at home mom. I needed an easy way to connect with other women in the area.  I wanted to be able to ask someone for recommendations on doctors, realtors, restaurants, etc.  I decided to start a Google Group for women in the area and called it the “TC Corkboard.” (TC stood for the county we resided in.) The online group started with eight women that I knew from church and snowballed from there. I casually stated the group’s purpose as “A place where women in the Lafayette area can share ideas and information about fun local events, where to find a good deal, to sell, borrow, or trade, or anything else! Enjoy!”

Today an online group isn’t anything new. In fact, it may seem old school when there are sites like Facebook and Meetup.com.  However, I like that anyone with an email address can belong to a group. So non-Facebookers (like my husband), can still benefit. I also like that the group is managed by an administrator so topics/members can be monitored.

During the five years that I administered the Corkboard group I was often asked for the basic ground rules. Other women were interested in starting up their own “Corkboard” after moving away. Here are some basics to get you started:

1. Setting up a Google Group is fairly simple. They will walk you through it step by step. Click here to learn more.

2. In the beginning I sent out invitations when I met someone new. After awhile most women heard by word of mouth and I didn’t bother trying to seek out new members on my own. This is the basic invitation I sent via email:

This is your invitation to the TC Corkboard–now you just need to accept it. If you would like to post something to the corkboard you just email it to: tc_corkboard@googlegroups.com

If you would like to view past posts just visit the web page:  http://groups.google.com/group/tc_corkboard/

Before posting please review the guidelines found on the homepage under “Files.”

If you have any questions feel free to email me at:  email address

Thanks!

3. The guidelines were super helpful when the online conversations got out of hand, which didn’t happen too often. Here are the guidelines to help get you started. Create it as a Google Share Doc and share it with group members.

GUIDELINES FOR USING CORKBOARD

  • Please refrain from sending FWDS
  • If you have questions or comments that don’t concern everyone else or that are not related to the original post, it would be best to email that person directly rather than emailing the entire Corkboard. All you need to do is change the address from: tc_corkboard@googlegroups.com to the email address of whomever you are responding to. This way you can still keep the text from their original post if necessary.
  • Sometimes we all benefit from information passed between a few people and if that is the case, then just use your best judgment and use the Corkboard to post. Otherwise, respond DIRECTLY to the author of the email. I hope that makes sense!
  • This group is for any women in the area and is not limited to women of any particular faith, race, etc. That being said, it is fine to post church-related news OR for example, to coordinate for church functions, etc. However, it would be better to exclude anything that is related to doctrine, beliefs, etc. In addition, please avoid any messages conveying political beliefs or opinions. These are things people feel passionately about and are better discussed elsewhere.
  • If you know women who would like to join, please send me their email address and I will gladly send them an invitation! It only takes a minute.
  • Sometimes when emailing we forget that it is a conversation. It can seem sometimes that we are interrupting if we respond to someone’s email, but we change the topic and we don’t make any reference to the original idea. Does that make sense? So, if you have something to say, that doesn’t have anything to do with the original email, please start a new post. That way, the person who sent the original email can get the kind of responses she wants and not feel that her idea/questions were thrown out the window. Let me know if I need to clarify.
  • If you have a question and you’re not sure whether or not it has been discussed, search the homepage (http://groups.google.com/group/tc_corkboard/) first before posting. If you can’t find your answer or it’s not quite what you’re looking for, post away!
  • Remember that if you are bothered by receiving too many emails, there are options you can change for receiving Corkboard messages. Go to the TC Corkboard homepage, ( http://groups.google.com/group/tc_corkboard), then click on “Edit My Membership.” You will then have a list of options as to how you would like to read the group. Select your preferred option (no email, abridged email, etc.) and save. Remember that if you select another option besides “Email” you will probably not be notified immediately of postings.
  • For those of you who aren’t sure how to post something, just email it to: tc_corkboard@googlegroups.com. If you would like to view past posts just visit the web page: http://groups.google.com/group/tc_corkboard/

If you have any other questions/concerns, please feel free to email me (email address) or call me (phone #). I would be happy to help!

4. The Corkboard mostly ran itself. There were only a few times when I had to stop a conversation thread all together. (When this happened I emailed both parties privately reminding them of the Corkboard guidelines and a few times I have had to send a general email to the whole group telling them I removed the thread and why.) For the most part the women knew what the group was for and were good about posting relevant topics.

5. Each online group takes on a personality of it’s own which depends on the personalities of the members and the community. I’ve resided in a new city for a year now and I still miss the Corkboard conversations!

Please let me know if I can answer any questions for you!

 

3 comments on “Using an Online Group to Connect With Like-Minded Locals

  1. Michelle on said:

    Thanks Andrea! These are really useful to me starting one up in my area. I miss your Corkboard! :)

  2. Michelle on said:

    I do have one question though: Do people without a gmail account have to create a google account? Is there any way to bypass this?

    • Andrea on said:

      Good question, Michelle. The last time I checked you did not have to have a google account to subscribe to the group as long as you just wanted to receive the emails. However, if you wanted to check the group postings online or change your status you needed to make a Google account, but you could still use an email address rather than gmail to receive the group’s messages via email. Does that make sense? Here is a great FAQ that explains it as well: https://sites.google.com/site/tomihasa/google-groups-faq#isgmailrequired

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

HTML tags are not allowed.