Talent Communities, just like any other online community, follow an established pattern of development.
Talent communities usually begin small, in the inception phase, and can be initiated by the organization, inviting applicants from their ATS systems, inviting their current employees and alumni, and attracting new community members via targeted advertising campaigns.
Communities grow slowly in activity and numbers since at first most referrals and relevant content distribution are usually done by the community owner. Sometimes, however, if the organization is large enough and has invited their databases of applicants and employees, the number of members can grow rather quickly. But it’s important to note that activity won’t grow at the same speed; the focus should be on quality community management and not the quantity of members.
Growth in membership and activity starts to pick up in the establishment phase, once those initial members feel like they’ve become part of the community. That’s when the community begins growing through referrals from members and the level of engagement grows until most of the activity is initiated by community members themselves, instead of the community owner.
Hopefully, if the quality of content distributed is consumed and discussed among the members, it will soon reach the maturity phase, where members have a real sense of community and display the behaviors discussed in the earlier post. If that happens, the next step starts naturally and the community will go through the mitosis phase, splitting into more diverse and specific interest groups, yet still connected and interactive with one another (e.g., HR breaking into Social HR, HR Technology, HR in Non-profits, etc.).
Throughout the entire lifecycle of the talent communities, organizations will be able to manage their talent brand and talent ecosystems by engaging members, following member activity and their improvements in areas of expertise. That will allow them to recruit new talent and analyze internal mobility options while supporting those who are yet to grow professionally. The work will, however, get easier and more productive as the community matures and the quality of interactions increase.
In the next post we’ll discuss the basic principles of talent community participation and how to encourage it.