Communities that thrive over the long term don’t start with a flash. They begin as a small gathering and grow into a fun party. The right way to start isn’t with a mass email and a broad appeal. It’s with exclusive invitations to a select few who you know will talk and communicate—and eventually attract a bunch of friends.
You don’t need too many of those VIP seeds to get your community up and running. Twenty can be enough, even a dozen. They just have to be chosen well.
The first place to look for them is among people you know. It’s likely that you’re already part of a community so tell your friends and the people you’ve met at conferences what you’re doing and invite them to participate.
It’s possible that those contacts alone will be enough to seed your community.
If you need to look further, hit bloggers. Avoid the top bloggers in your field. They already have a community. Try to bring in the mid-rankers, people who have a way to climb and will want to work with you to reach more people.
You can also contact commenters on those blogs. You know they have opinions so invite them to share those opinions in your community where they’ll be seen and discussed instead of hiding them away in a comment section.
Amazon book reviewers can share their knowledge with your members, and if you still need more people, contact the biggest contributors to targeted Facebook pages.
It shouldn’t take you long to sign up your first twenty members and because they’ll be knowledgeable and opinionated, they’ll be real contributors who build conversations and attract more people.