Building a powerful community - recruitment

I am reading this great book from Michael Jacoby Brown entitled “Building Powerful Community Organizations”. This post is a way for me to shape my ideas around a to-be-founded Data Clinic at the University of Amsterdam.

For now, let’s talk about powerful ways to recruit new motivated members for the community (taken from section II: power).

Chapter VI - how to recruit new members & leaders

Who should be recruited?

  • People that face issues
  • People that share the same values
  • People that want to help
  • People that want to make a difference

How to conduct a one-to-one recruiting meeting

Mostly quoting from the book:

  • Talk no more than 20% of the time: listen the remaining 80%
  • Mention clearly the Study Group & Data Clnic organisation
  • Encourage people to talk about themselves
  • Be yourself, be real. Disclose enough about yourself to make the other person feel comfortable.
  • Tell the person enough about the organisation so that he or she gets the general picture.
  • Find out about the person values and where they come from (“do you think the data situation is good in the way it is? How would you like to improve things?”)
  • Look into the person’s network at SILS & IBED
  • Find out if the person has done similar community work before
  • Ask for some specific commitment: lesson development or help at Hacky Hour are good gotchas here.
  • Be sensitive about cultural differences!

Make notes afterwards

Make quick notes:

  • name / institute / research group
  • main subject / interests
  • core values
  • origin of these values
  • main issues
  • tasks that the person like to do
  • how can the person help?
  • how much time is the person willing to dedicate?

Recruit people for a task not money

  • Ask for help
  • Ask what they like to do
  • Provide some context for the task
  • Thank people regularly for their help!
  • Stick to your word: don’t ask for more.
  • “We can’t do it without you”
  • Suggest things that can be done (see mental menu of tasks)

Assigning people to task: the mental menu of tasks

Task: maintaining the Study Group website:

  • advertisement of events (lessons and hacky hours)
  • adding new members
  • modifying bits of the website

Task: heading themed sub-committees

  • 16S rRNA metagenomics
  • RNA-Seq
  • Genomics

Task: helping beginners

  • answering Git & Github issues (including assignees)
  • helping beginners at Hacky Hours
  • become a helper during a Study Group lesson
  • become a helper at a Software/Data Carpentry workshop (half-day, one day or two days)

Task: build teaching material

  • making a lesson once or twice a year on a subject of their choice
  • contribute to the development of SWC lesson materials

Task: scientific watch

  • lead a sub-commitee “task force” on a specific theme (RNA-Seq, Machine Learning, Metagenomics)
  • organise regular update events for a sub-committee

Task: finding support

  • contact Industrial partners for sponsorship

A side note: building a database

As I am not always aware of who comes to which session, I should definitely make a small SQL database to keep track of attendees and members.
This would also be a good way to start learning more about SQL database.

Written on April 23, 2018