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 at 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, and introduce the team and early members.
Kick-off: keep the energy high and focus on the new members. This is not about you but all about them getting to know each other.
- Start with some music (good opportunity to create a collaborative playlist for the community)
- Use fun Trivia to get the chat going. Trivia could be about the members of the community topic.
- Welcome and set the context - what's the community about? why are they here? what to expect from the community? what values and guidelines define the community?
- Use breakout sessions generously (a couple of sessions for 10-15 minutes each) - allow a small group of 4-5 members to introduce themselves and get to know each other.
- Provide details that make it easy for members to navigate the community and if stuck, to reach out for help
- Don't forget to share the next steps or what the new members can expect as you end the kick-off
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 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.
Drive and Listen - Have one person in your Zoom breakout room screen-share this to feel like you are in a virtual carpool 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.