My regular readers will know I participate in several forums – not just Virtual Assistant forums, but also other forums relating to business and/or other topics I have an interest in.
My business has grown with the internet, i.e. I began in business 18 months before it entered the business arena here in Australia, so I have grown in business as the internet has grown also. I’ve seen a lot of trends come and go and things develop and change over the years.
Prior to networking online, I did all my networking face-to-face, attending groups that were well managed in most cases and there was a certain etiquette to how you operated yourself when meeting other business people.
It seems that same etiquette is fading away online as new people join forums and expect that it is their right to do whatever they please. They either don’t realise, or have forgotten, that membership is a privilege, not a right. Over the years I’ve seen members of forums try to take over forums and when they can’t get their own way, they take off and create a new one, taking many members of the first forum with them (this could be seen as poaching, particularly if there is a paid membership involved). I’ve seen members of forums incite arguments, flame other members publicly on the forum and do all sorts of other things. I’ve seen forums suffer and collapse as a result. And now it seems that it is appropriate (in their eyes) to blatantly promote events to members of a forum without checking with the moderator to see if it’s ok to do. If you were attending a face-to-face networking event, would you just jump up on the podium, shout for everyone’s attention and then start promoting an event without asking for permission? It really does amount to the same thing.
Recently I had cause to remind a member of one forum that I moderate that being able to promote on a forum is a privilege and not a right, and that I’ve only ever seen her promote events, but never get involved in the conversations. Fortunately she’s appreciated my position and has decided to get involved in the forum.
This doesn’t just happen in VA forums, I do see it in other forums and I feel for the owners or moderators of those forums when members don’t respect the ‘leaders’ and decide that they know better.
Personality clashes do happen but it’s best taken behind the scenes and off the forum. Airing dirty laundry in public has never been a good thing in business and it not only lowers the opinion of members for the ‘leaders’ but it also does forums a lot of damage, often irreparable.
New forums being developed should be because there is a perceived need not being met elsewhere, not because there’s been a split because of arguments. It’s like starting off a new relationship based on damage from the old one. It’s often doomed from the start.
Some years ago I started up a site specifically for VA Announcements of events so that VAs had somewhere to promote without having to ask permission. A lot of VAs do see the announcements and have either subscribed or check the site reguarly. If you have something to promote, why not make a visit to that site to add your event? VA-Announcements.com.