Before you start a group, go to the Groups Directory and search for groups in your subject area or area of expertise. Scan them to see if one of them fits your approach or specific area. Sometimes you’ll find that you have a special niche, and none of the other groups addresses it.
Think about the people you want as members, and what you want them to gain from membership in your group.
Jot down the purpose for your group, and guidelines for the members. For example, your group may be a place for people with common interests and business challenges to “talk” and share ideas, brainstorm, and keep in touch with the trends in the industry. Or perhaps it’s an area to share resources and recommendations that other members would be interested in.
Guidelines might include that it’s a resource exchange, and self-promotion and job-related postings are not acceptable.
Active content is critical to the success of the group. If people come to the group once, and then return a week or two later, and nothing has changed, they’ll leave and never come back. At the same time, it’s not always easy to produce new content consistently.
I’ve managed several groups, and we’ve solved this challenge by having a committee post new material regularly. It’s worked best to have a schedule where one person posts comments or starts a discussion the first week of the month, and someone else posts the second week, etc. That way the burden of creating content doesn’t fall on you as the group manager.
We’re doing new things now for the NSA-NYC (National Speakers Association-New York City Chapter), and I’ll let you know how they work.