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One of the most major problems in community organization in Ethiopia is participation. Events suffer with very few interested participants, online forums are without topics and topics are without discussions. Blogs can achieves high views, but less comments.
Recently, we prepared great event on Android, from 250 invitations only 65 registered. From the registered participants – even at the last minute confirmation – 45 came to the event. This is not my first experience with community events. In one occasion, from all confirmed 18 participants (Notably, University instructors), none of them came to the event. So what is the problem?
I want to address this issue from the participants side instead of the event organizers – since this problem mostly existed from confirmed participants – rather than poor marketing strategies
Here are few points how to increase your participation.
Find your interest: In most cases, participants want to go for every event available but at the end not sure where to go and what do afterwards. You can only be active participant if you have huge interest on the topic. Finding your interest is the basic concept to push you out of your bed and go to the event on Saturday morning. If you don’t find your interest, it is less likely that you will enjoy the event/community in the first place.
Understand the community: What is the set-up behind the community? what are the goals? what does your participation contributes? if you miss some days, what are you possibly losing? what do the community, online forum benefit from you? Trying to answer such questions help you to understand the community and how important your participation is.
Identify the Benefits: If you don’t see the benefit of the event, it is high likely that you will choose drinking coffee with a friend instead. Most people measure the benefits in terms of money and incentives (lunch, t-shirts, media coverage etc). In most cases, it is not possible to generate money just participating in the community or commenting on a blog entry. Your benefit is measured on how many network you can establish, contacts you make, and pushing your ideas. usually the benefit of participating in community has long term benefits – can even be money-wise.
Plan: Planning is very important to schedule your priorities. Last minute plan cancellation only shows your incompetence and unpunctuality. Event organizers only expect you to come after your confirmation. If you already not sure coming, you don’t need to confirm. If you are not sure of contributing something on the tech forum, don’t need to sign up.
Trust: Community event organizers most likely don’t get what you usually believe they do. Sponsors give limited amount of money and audit it afterwards. In most cases, the organizers are the one who usually pay the pit cash. Trusting the community you are in is very critical for your active participation. If you suspect, corruption or unfair personal recognition in the community, act upon it.
Increase your participation and create a strong community.