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How to run a successful community

What are your objectives?

Success will depend on your objectives. Hopefully, you’ll have had a chance to think about this in your annual planning review but you might want to consider:

  • engaging with more students and Young Professionals
  • inspiring schoolchildren
  • helping share technical content
  • growing your volunteering pool
  • building your online community
  • engaging with the industry
  • enabling networking and professional development.

Engaging with more students and Young Professionals

On Campus

IET On Campus is our comprehensive approach to working with universities around the world. Primarily run by students, with support from IET staff, Local Network volunteers and a member of their university staff, it can help create stronger links between students, organisations, universities and the local community. Read the briefing [PDF, 105KB] and watch Head of Communities and Events, Alex Taylor, talk you through On Campus in her own words.

Present around the World (PATW) Competition

A global competition for Young Professionals and Students, PATW encourages participants to give 10 minute talks on a subject of their choosing. Going through several round, the Global Final winner wins £1,000. If you’re interested in hosting a regional heat, we can provide you with lots of event management and marketing resources.

Sponsor a prize

Local Networks can offer £250 prizes to students at universities or colleges without an IET accredited programme. The prize winner should be nominated on the official form (please request this from your staff support) by the academic establishment for having achieved excellence on a course that falls within the IET’s scope of interest.

John Lawrence, Chairman of the South Yorkshire Local Network, has put together a case study [PDF, 665KB] which shows how they’ve been using the Student of Excellence Award as a way of improving their relationships with universities and employers in their local area.

Inspiring schoolchildren

Each UK Local Network has at least one voluntary Schools Liaison Officer who supports educational activities, and who can access bespoke support and resources from the Education 5-19 team.

Each year the Gloucestershire Local Network organises a stand at the Cheltenham Science Festival, an ambitious six day event. In 2017, the network developed a series of activities using micro:bits, borrowed exhibition equipment from the Bristol science museum and worked with a local STEM club organiser to equip their stand in the new Maker Shack. They were able to attract over 50 volunteers to run the stand over the week and attract over 8,000 visitors over the course of the festival. If you don’t have a Schools Liaison Officer, contact ieteducation@theiet.org.

Helping share technical content

We encourage Local Networks and Technical Networks to work together. Why not hold a technical event in a specific geographic area together?

Growing your team

Having a pool of willing and active volunteers to help out with activities can be one of the most important challenges for Local Networks. The networks that have a more formal succession planning system tend to be those with the least issues. Read our volunteer briefing on succession planning [PDF, 41.3KB]

The New South Wales young professionals have come up with a great way of recruiting new volunteers and preparing them for a position on their committee [PDF, 108KB].

The Surrey Local Network leave a small volunteer advert on the seats at their events. Tim Brown, who created the idea, told us ‘We find it’s better to advertise for new volunteers at events where there’s a greater mix of ages. Big mainstream events that get a Young Professionals audience are big targets for us’. The Communities Team have recreated Surrey LN’s volunteer forms in Word format [DOCX, 35KB] so feel free to edit them for your network, print them out and use at your events.

Mersey and Western Cheshire Network run a bi-annual volunteer workshop which gets everyone together, reviews the previous session, takes ideas to bring the network forward, has guest speakers and talks KPIs.

There are also lots of resources to help you support new team members, including the Volunteer Handbook, information on inductions, and policies on the Volunteer Gateway. 

Building an online community

Check out the IET Engineering Communities platform and join the Community Administrators Group for guidance on how to build your online engineering community.

Engaging with the industry

Our IET Regional Development Managers work with UK Local Networks to promote and support professional development and professional registration, engage non-members and recruit PRA/PRI volunteers. If you know an organisation that would benefit from our support, speak to your Community Manager.

Enabling networking and professional development

There’s a whole host of networking and professional development opportunities you can offer. From Freshers and graduate events to lifeskills workshops, membership recruitment events and professional registration sessions. See how you can run a successful event.

Other great ideas to consider

Welcoming new members 

Ensuring that new members of your local network feel welcome is a great way of engaging with them from the start. Birmingham Local Network invites their new members to Austin Court for a few nibbles and a chat. Nothing too fancy but it’s a great introduction and an opportunity to network.

Asking for event suggestions/feedback

This one is really beneficial but is often overlooked. Asking your delegates to fill out feedback forms after an event can provide you with great tips to use at future events. Asking for event suggestions can also give a good insight into what your members would like to see more of.

Annual team building

IET Malaysia YPS organised an Annual Team Building event and invited not just the Young Professionals (YPs) committee members but also the On-Campus groups committee members. The purpose was to get to know each other, build stronger teams and to coordinate future events.

Want to add your idea?

Email the communities team.