Having members that are excited about helping you grow your community is a huge asset. Besides what Ning has done to provide us with online tools to benefit from our members motivation to form community, What else can be done to take advantage of your members enthusiasm? More then 3000 invitations have been sent by the members of Acoreanos, currently just short of 600 members connected to the Azores Islands have joined. That let's me know my community is built around a topic of importance. But I needed a way to reach more members.I have had success reaching new members by making a downloadable flyer that members can print.
Providing printable materials for members to post around their communities on message boards, at restaurants, schools, and other real world locations has helped to develop a more diverse base of participants. I have received updates from members who are putting the flyer in the local library, social clubs, art galleries, and ethnic grocers. Several of the most active participants have told me they learned about the community after they saw the flyer I have made available for members of Acoreanos to circulate offline.
My primary goal is to connect people with a common cultural bond. Azoreans and their descendants are spread around the globe. As with most ethnic groups there are isolated communities where immigrants have concentrated. I personally do not live in an area with an active Azorean social network, so starting the online network is a way for me to stay connected and grow in cultural pride. The flyer is helping me reach the real world community in hopes of connecting long lost friends and families.
The praise and gratitude I receive from people in similar situations is gratifying and propels me to keep the mission of growing the community. If anyone has other ideas for growing the member base on a small budget, I'd love to hear from you.