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: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you would like to view past posts just visit the web page: http://groups.google.com/
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
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
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!