Think about community management as tending a houseplant: both require constant attention to ensure that they thrive, bloom, and grow in the right direction. Just as we would add stakes to help a growing plant, we establish a sturdy foundation for the community to support it as it scales.
That is because, as the community grows, it becomes a labyrinth of interconnected relationships and interests that require careful management. And that's where structuring a community through chapters comes in handy - it provides a framework that can help keep everything organized.
If you're new to the concept of chapters, stay a while. This article will dive into what chapters are while giving you a sneak peek into how we implemented them to structure the CMX Community. So, let's get started!
Communities are dynamic, constantly evolving, and growing with each new member that joins. While this can be exciting, it can also challenge maintaining the sense of belonging that initially defined the community. That's why many communities create smaller, more tightly-knit sub-communities, known as "Chapters."
Chapters can take many forms, from groups centered around shared interests or hobbies to sub-communities based on geographical locations. By creating these smaller, more focused groups, community builders can foster deeper connections between members, allowing them to bond over their passions and experiences. This not only creates a heightened sense of intimacy and belonging but also facilitates more meaningful interactions that may be harder to achieve in a larger community.
But the benefits of Chapters don't stop there. They can also help to distribute the workload, ensuring that more diverse perspectives and ideas are brought to the table. This delegation of responsibility empowers members to take charge of specific areas or initiatives, easing the burden of management and allowing for more organic growth.
All in all, Chapters bring many benefits to communities and offer a practical solution for scaling communities, fostering deeper connections, encouraging innovation, and distributing workload, especially those with a membership that spans the globe.
The idea for the CMX Connect program, our chapter initiative, was born from realizing that many community builders can likely relate to the Burden of Attribution. As Samantha Venia Logan pointed out in a recent interview with us, this burden refers to the challenge of maintaining a sense of cohesion and accountability as a community grows, and conversations become increasingly diffuse.
In the early days of building the CMX Community, we faced this challenge head-on. Like many communities, we started with Slack and Facebook groups, where interesting discussions abounded but often lacked structure and direction. To capture these valuable conversations more meaningfully, we launched the CMX Summit, which allowed us to build a reputation for thought leadership and generate high-quality content.
As our community continued to expand across the globe, we knew we needed a more scalable approach. And so, the CMX Connect program was born. This initiative empowered local leaders to create their own Chapters, providing more space for discussion and allowing for a wider range of voices and perspectives to be heard. The result? An even stronger sense of belonging, more opportunities for community-led events and content, and a truly global network of community builders united by a common mission.
Initially launched with just 16 volunteers and 14 events in 9 countries, CMX Connect has since blossomed into a global movement with hundreds of hosts across the world. Our chapters are based on geographic locations, with active groups in countries from Canada to Colombia, Brazil to Germany, Turkey to Lagos, Japan, India, and nearly half of the states in the US.But we didn't stop at geography. We also created exclusive virtual chapters like CMX Book Club and Education and Nonprofit Sector Chapters, where members with shared interests can come together and connect. And, of course, we have our own HQ Chapter, where we host our own Masterclasses.Through the CMX Connect program, we're able to offer a diverse range of events that cater to the interests of our members, whether they're held virtually or in person. By creating these layers of content and building a network of supportive professionals, we've overcome the burden of attribution and made it easier for community builders to create meaningful connections.
But we didn't stop at geography. We also created exclusive virtual chapters like CMX Book Club and Education and Nonprofit Sector Chapters, where members with shared interests can come together and connect. And, of course, we have our own HQ Chapter, where we host our own Masterclasses.
Through the CMX Connect program, we're able to offer a diverse range of events that cater to the interests of our members, whether they're held virtually or in person. By creating these layers of content and building a network of supportive professionals, we've overcome the burden of attribution and made it easier for community builders to create meaningful connections.
And the impact of the CMX Connect program goes beyond just fostering community. It's also been a powerful tool for driving leads to our organization and creating member value. By sourcing leads from our attendee list, we're able to positively impact our sales cycle while simultaneously providing our members with the resources they need to build better, more sustainable communities.
But perhaps the most exciting aspect of the CMX Connect program is the collaborative potential. Our local chapters regularly team up to produce joint events, which not only expand our network but also create amazing experiences for our members. And for those who travel or move to a new place, the CMX Connect program provides an instant network of supportive professionals to connect with. None of this would be possible without the amazing CMX Connect Hosts, who bring an enormous amount of knowledge and expertise to their local chapters. They take ownership of their chapters and bring in amazing events and content to help attendees grow their skill sets and become community professionals.
Looking back at the past 4-5 years of our CMX Connect journey, we couldn't be more proud of the program we've built and the connections we've fostered. With hundreds of active hosts and thousands of attendees, the CMX Connect program has become a truly global network of community builders united by a common mission. And we can't wait to see what the future holds.
As mentioned, chapters are centered around shared interests, passions, professions, geographical locations, or even causes. It's important to have a general idea of what your chapters will revolve around. But don't be afraid to have chapters with different focuses. Just make sure to maintain the central ideology, values, and shared mission of your whole community. After all, your chapters are sub-communities, and they should all be in sync with the overall vision.
Your chapters won't run themselves! They need passionate leaders who are eager to share their knowledge with the world. It's important to really get to know your members and identify those who possess the qualities and passion needed to lead a chapter. When you first start implementing chapters, be sure to convey the value and purpose of these sub-communities and have a couple of potential leaders in mind who you believe would be a great fit.
You can't expect your chapter leaders to just jump right into things without any guidance or expectations set. It's crucial to clearly communicate all the responsibilities and potential outcomes they'll be taking on during the application process. This way, there are no surprises for them once they're on board. Once you've chosen your chapter leaders, it's important to get to know them on a personal level and help them get started on their action items. Having 1-1 sessions with them can be incredibly helpful. At CMX, we've found that creating a playbook for our leaders is also a great way to keep everyone on the same page.
Running a chapter is no small feat, and it's crucial to provide ongoing support and resources to your dedicated leaders. Let them know you're there to listen and offer any additional resources or connections that might help them achieve their goals. It's all about fostering a sense of community and support, so don't hesitate to lend a hand whenever you can. And don't forget to show your gratitude - a little reward goes a long way!
One of the most exciting things about Chapters is the potential for amazing collaborations and partnerships. By connecting your chapter leaders with each other, you're not only fostering a sense of community but also creating opportunities for them to exchange ideas, offer support and guidance, and make some magic happen. Consider creating a private group or channel for these conversations to happen, and watch the magic happen!
Success is the result of time and dedication, but let's face it, there will always be some bumps in the road. Celebrating successes, no matter how big or small, is essential. Recognize your chapter leaders for their hard work and share their triumphs with the rest of the community. At the same time, don't shy away from failures. Take the time to reflect on what went wrong and use that knowledge to improve your chapters going forward. Learning from mistakes is how we grow and become better leaders.
All in all, bringing chapters to your community can be a great solution that will alleviate many of the burdens associated with scaling up. However, starting a chapter can seem intimidating—how do you create a page that accurately reflects both your community's identity and purpose?
Fortunately, Bevy's chapter page builder simplifies the process. With just a few clicks, you can create a page that captures the essence of your community and inspires members to take action.