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How to find the right online communities

The user experience in the big, ungated social networks is getting steadily worse: spam, bots, fake news. There are three main solutions:

  • technology (i.e., anti-bot tools, but that’s an endless battle);
  • gating; and/or
  • curation/moderation.

One result: I think we’ll see people spending more and more time in gated online communities. Particularly in a time of social distancing, when people can’t meet one another in person, but still want to meet new folks.

But…how do you find the right online communities that are worth your while? Filled with conversations worth having and people whom you’d like to meet? With either strict gating or strict curation/moderation?

I list the major online communities focused on VC in my Reading list for  private equity and venture capital. Among the leading communities for fintech are AltDataCommunity; Finbuild; Finnovation; and EmpireFintech. For tech founders in general, I suggest Build Sales Grow Founders Group, FounderCulture, Guilds, Founders Network, Off The Record, and SAAS Founders Club.

First, I suggest search within the major online community platforms for your industries and functions of interest, in particular: 

Second, I suggest using some of the search engines for finding online communities:

Third, look on an internet search engine for all combinations of words from each of the two columns on the right below, e.g., “New York software engineers group” . 

Category Your relevant keywords (examples) Synonyms for community
Location (or leave blank) “New York” “alliance”, “association”, “community”, “conference”, “council”, “forum”, “institute”, “network”, “organization”, “retreat”, “society”, “symposium”
Target industry “fashion”, “health care”
Target function “Software engineers”

Scott Allen, CEO, TheVirtualHandshake.com, and my coauthor, said,

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“There are actually a lot of great industry/peer groups on Facebook. Just also a lot of noise, and discovery can be harder. But they’re typically far more active, more closely moderated, and supportive than LinkedIn groups. Austin has some great examples:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/austindigitaljobs/
https://www.facebook.com/groups/austinstartups
https://www.facebook.com/groups/freelanceatx

“Facebook is also the place to find hyperlocal groups, like Bastrop (TX) Business Owners.”

If you’re building companies in the online community space, Versatile VC is glad to hear from you!

For more ideas, see The Top 14 Ways to Find Open Slack Channels.

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