By: David Halverson (Guest Blogger)
When I was a project manager for a large company, I was so impressed with mind mapping and MindManager in particular, that I started a Mind Mapping Community at my work. We started out with a handful of early adopters and grew to over 600 members. Although it was sometimes difficult to maintain and grow a community (because everyone is already busy with many responsibilities), I felt the Mind Mapping Community really helped people be more productive.
Starting a community was a win-win — it was a great way for me to network and show leadership and the many participants really appreciated the opportunity to learn from each other and improve their skills.
Here are best practices I recommend:
- Hold monthly meetings
The best monthly sessions were where we had a couple of employees talking about their best practices using MindManager and showing how they used the tool.
- Attract an audience
Be sure to write a snappy teaser for your session and let your community know at least a week ahead of time.
- Focus on members
It will be easier to attract an audience if your session has broad appeal. Sessions like ‘Secret Tips and Tricks for Using MindManager’ is going to attract a larger audience than a session entitled ‘How to Link Your Mind Map to a Database,” but you need both kinds of sessions.
- Make an online resource and post information
We invited members to share their best maps, favorite mind mapping links, articles and webinars on our website. Use SharePoint, Dropbox or Google Docs.
- Offer to demonstrate mind mapping
We presented to teams like engineers, project management and web development. Tailor your presentation to show your audience how they will use the tool in their role. Use relevant examples to bring the demonstration to life.
- Get a Sponsor
Our executive sponsor was a well-regarded director with an interest in mind mapping. Having a highly-placed sponsor helps your group with credibility, overcoming bureaucratic hurdles as well as provides a good sounding board for your groups ideas and strategies. The best way to communicate with our sponsor was a low-key Friday afternoon meeting once a month.
- Get help to lead
I found that the best approach was to look for likely candidates, then ask them in person if they could help with a specific task and see how it works out. If they do a good job, then ask them if they are interested in community leadership.
Surveys of what topics your members would like hear about will give you some insight into their needs. Ask how they would like to receive information too.
- Work with other user groups
Invite another community group to your meeting or ask to speak at other groups’ meetings.
- Invite purchasers of every new license
In the case of the MindManager user community, I worked with our procurement and IT teams to identify and reach out to new users and invite them to join the group.
Are you interested in starting a user group? We have a Leader’s Forum at MindManager designed for people that run or want to start a user group at work. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Dave Halverson worked for 30 years at The Boeing Company as a systems analyst and project manager for various divisions. Eight years ago he started the Boeing Mind Mapping Interest Group which grew from a dozen members to over 600 when he left the company in 2015. Dave is currently a Customer Success Manager for Mindjet. Dave is passionate about helping people understand how mind mapping, and in particular MindManager, can improve their productivity, assist in their creative process and allow them to move their vision to action and implementation. Dave was graduated with a BA from Evergreen State University and holds a Master of Science in Information Systems from the University of Washington. Feel free to contact him if you have any questions about mind mapping, MindManager or how to create/run a user group. His email is DavidLHalverson@hotmail.com