New members kick-off is one of the key events for communities of all kinds as it sets the tone for future interactions and how the community shapes itself. It is the equivalent of rolling out a new feature or product launch - there are three phases to it: build-up, kick-off, and follow-through.
Build-up: a week or two before the kick-off event, start engaging with your new members and give them a sneak peek on what to expect. Involving them in shaping the kick-off event is also a great way to get the community up and running early on. Share kick-off details with a rough agenda, snapshots from past kick-off events, have a theme, crowdsource fun one-liners, introduce some of the team and early members.
Kick-off: keep the energy high and the focus on the new members. This is not about you but all about them getting to know each other.
Follow-through: share any highlights from the kick-off and materials that'd help the new members (Community Wiki, Guidelines, Schedule etc). Include a note around what new members can expect in the coming week(s) and a way for them to reach out or ask questions. Prompt them to post their introductions (if not done already) on the community space which could be on Slack or Discord.
Gatherround (previously Icebreaker.video) - a fun way to connect people together online. Pick one of their several meeting templates to get started.
Maps by Luma - capture where your new members are joining in from on a world map and share it online.
Kahoot - create fun trivia quizzes for members to play and connect with each other.
Drive and Listen - Have one person in your Zoom breakout room screen-share this to feel like you are in a virtual car pool with your mates.
Tips from On Deck - a great open source playbook on how you can activate your community online
How to run virtual icebreakers that actually work - a guide to virtual icebreakers put together by the folks at teambuilding.com.