🔑 The “it” factor in creating great communities

How talent platforms can leverage community to shape the future of work

The number of talent platforms is ever increasing with 650+ for talent to choose from. With so many choices on the market, platforms are pushed towards employer branding efforts to stay relevant in an increasingly competitive arms race for the best talent. The solution? Community. 

Here are three tips from master community architect, Eryn Peters

A database is not a community.

There’s a big difference between building a database and a community. Most talent platforms maintain databases but the ones that foster community will win.

Talent databases are funnel-driven. They are structured skills and contact information to aid in the candidate search process from a pool of leads. This is a “one-to-many” relationship where a single recruiter interacts with a candidate to filter and match. Databases mimic a relational structure.

Talent communities are connection-driven. They are a global town square where talent interact directly, regardless of the relevance to the work itself. This is a “many-to-many” relationship where members can find, meet, and talk to each other without interference. Communities mimic graph structures.

Source: PhoenixNap IT - What is a graph database?

The best communities are like a social fabric. The more connections threads between members, the stronger the fabric. 

Tip: Build a home base for your community where they can connect and interact with each other regularly. 

Bigger isn’t better.

Many platforms make the mistake of overshooting their supply metrics. By doing so, they are constantly filling their talent pools with as many candidates as possible in the off chance that one person will fit a role in both skills and availability. 

This creates an imbalance in the ratio of opportunity:talent which results in a poor talent experience. Platforms typically then turn to community to make a better member experience but this is near impossible. Social belonging doesn’t put food on the table. Remember that members are joining talent platforms with the primary goal of finding work and earning income. 

Community, matching, and sales functions need to work lock-step in ensuring that there is proper liquidity and balance of both skills AND work opportunities. With the right measurement and communication, you can grow in a more consistently for less overall investment and a more positive customer and talent experience. 

Tip: Focus on a smaller group of more target and engaged individuals rather than opening the floodgates.

Be different.

We know that there is an abundance of choice for talent when it comes to selecting a platform. We also know that not all talent will find work on just one platform. In a recent (unnamed) platform survey of 1000 freelance technologists, 76% of respondents were on more than one talent platform. Of those respondents, the average number of platforms they were on was 4.

All marketplaces are vulnerable to multitenanting, but how can this be reduced? Curated value. Focus on increasing timeshare by making your platform community so obviously valuable to each member that it would be foolish for them to be anywhere else. 

Most talent platforms have events, a threaded chat tool, and the occasional newsletter. What are you doing that is special and unique? 

Here are some examples of platforms that are all in the same space, software engineering, but offer unique advantages. 

X-team has great community branding. They are a lifestyle community that focuses on energy and adventure. When a member is placed with an end-client, they get access to a VIP $2,500 annual lineup of perks and benefits including weekend getaways, gym memberships, pet sitting, office gear, and more. 

Braintrust’s members are owners. Not only do members get access to great group medical and retirement plans, but their activities on-platform earn them BTRST tokens where they earn a portion of revenue. The more work and referrals you do, the bigger the piece of the pie you get. 

Toptal provides one-to-one coaching. All members are eligible to receive coaching and can learn how to advance professionally from experts. Be it skills gap analysis, performance coaching, or rate setting, they cover a whole range of topics that freelancers might encounter.

All potentially have overlapping talent within their communities, but you infer different community culture and identities with very unique offerings. 

Tip: Be unique. Tell people what they can expect about the vibe and culture of your community by doing things differently.

There’s no silver bullet when it comes to community. The “it” factor is intention. Starting small with a well-defined value proposition that sets your community apart from the masses is the best bet.