If you want to join an online community rather than build your own, itís important to look at several communities to ensure that you spend your money and/or time wisely before getting too involved. Itís pretty easy to tell quickly if a community is one you want to stay involved in if you know what to look for.
* Uses Real Names Ė You donít really want to waste time in a community where everyone is anonymous. You want to make real connections with real people with whom you can conduct business. When you are dealing with a lot of anonymous people that isnít going to happen; instead you could end up scammed.
* Has Active Discussions Ė The owner of the group should be working hard to ensure that discussions stay active and productive. If no one has started a new discussion in the last week other than to spam the group, itís probably not a very good community.
* Offers Plenty of Content Ė You want to be part of a community that offers informative content to the audience that is helpful to their business. If the content and information that is available is old and outdated, it might not be a community that you want to waste time on.
* Has a Podcast Ė A really good addition to any online community is a podcast where the host interviews members and also experts in the niche. This keeps everything new and fresh for the members and keeps them coming back.
* Community of Customers Ė The best community you can join is a community full of potential clients for you. For example if youíre an authorís VA you might want to join a community of authors.
* Community of Colleagues Ė Alternatively, you might want to learn more about your niche by joining a community full of your actual competition. It can be very enlightening to learn from others who are doing what you are doing.
* Notice Who Is Commenting Ė When a discussion starts, who is starting it and who is commenting on it? You may notice that the same people are always involved in the discussions. That is okay as long as the comments are well formed, intelligent, and there arenít a lot of disagreements without someone checking the discussion.
* How Many Blatant Ads Appear? – Some measure of promotion is okay because itís their community that they started likely to promote themselves, but you want the promotions to be well thought out and not the only thing the community is about.
* Do They Offer Live Events? Ė Webinars, teleseminars, Twitter parties, and even in-person live events speak to a well-organized and established online community that will continue to grow and thrive.
Choosing an online community to become a regular part of is an important thing to consider, because it takes a lot of time and effort to create value from the experience. You donít want to spend your time in the wrong place.