Online communities

The IET manages an online engineering community that enables users to tap into people and expertise quickly and easily wherever they are. 

Why do we need online communities?

When we ask what members want from Communities at the IET overwhelmingly the answer is a flexible online space to find other IET members, network, collaborate, ask and answer questions and download technical articles.
An online community is a truly collaborative tool, encompassing the full capabilities of discussion forums, dissemination of knowledge, peer to peer networking, libraries, blogs, multimedia and events - all of which are in the hands of the user. With social networks a core part of 21st century lives and IET members want to be able to engage with their professional community online as well as at traditional events.

Engineering Communities best practice

We have produced a briefing that shares real life examples of how volunteers have used the different functionality within the Engineering Communities platform to engage with members of their Local Network. These examples cover the following types of content:
A image illustrating online communities  

  • Discussion forums
  • Blogs
  • Photos
  • Files
  • Videos

These are simple and effective ways of increasing activity within your online community, and the more active your community is the more people are likely to engage with it.

Top 10 tips for maintaining a healthy online community

Anyone can create an online community, but the real challenge is keeping it active and keeping your members engaged. We live in a digital age where an increasing amount of social and professional networking platforms are appearing all the time, and if you want your community to thrive you will need to make it stand out. 

What can you do to add value to your community and provide content and engagement opportunities that will encourage your members to keep coming back for more? To answer this question we have visited a number of websites that provide advice on how to increase engagement in online communities. This blog post is an amalgamation of our favourite top 10 tips and should provide you with some tangible ideas.

SoCal Network online community

In addition to the above best practice examples we also have a more detailed look into how the Southern California (SoCal) Network has been using Engineering Communities to engage with their members. Thanks to Richard Tregaskes for allowing us to publish this presentation that he gave at the 2016 Communities Volunteer Conference.

The orange speech bubble icon in the top left corner of each slide is where you will find the presenters comments.

How an online discussion became a physical event

The Control and Automation Network have provided a great example of how online networking can bring people together for a physical event.

It's easy to get into the habit of limiting strategic input to committee members, but asking the wider membership to put forward ideas on what they’d like to see your network doing is an effective way of making them feel like a valued part of the community. It also ensures that you're meeting a demand and that the topics you're covering, whether in the form of online content or physical events, will be well received.

Read this case study to find out more about how the chairman collaborated with members of the online community to make this happen.

'Requesting an online community' form

Most Local and Technical Networks will already have a corresponding online community, but if you're interested in starting your own online community then please read through these Q&As first. If you are satisfied that you meet the criteria, you will then need to read through the instructions document before submitting your request for approval by the IET Communities Dept.

Further information and support

The Community Administrators Group is a hub for online community owners and administrators to discuss the platform, ask questions, and seek guidance and advice on how to manage and develop your online community.

If you are an existing community owner/administrator then you should have already received an invitation to join this group. However, if you haven't then you can visit the group and request to join.