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Christa, you hit the nail on the head. This is exactly what's going on. My audience, more often than not, hails from the world of discussion forums. We've been getting our tech and sense of community from our respective home bases.

These communities are generally based upon specific vehicle models, platforms, or pursuits, and my aim is twofold; to help enthusiasts recognize common ground, and to help them act on the new ideas likely to be generated in the process - to realize the full potential of our differences.

I'm sure they have everything they need right now, but I'm hoping to inspire them to want more (and help them get it from each other). I don't want them to leave their current communities, but to expand their horizons and to share their discoveries with each other.

Methinks I need to get into a little more think-do-write. ;) Thanks for the feedback. I appreciate it.

Brian, I run into the same problem with the little B2B community I help my clients market to. They're a suspicious lot ("You're trying to sell me something? NO.") and while networking is very important to them, they're more likely to do it offline -- in person or over the phone -- for a variety of reasons.

Note that I said "more likely to." They DO converse online; they just have certain communities that they do it in, and joining in is easy enough, and they even have brand conversations... but joining in (or getting busy clients to join in) is the tricky part, again for a variety of reasons.

Is it possible that your audience already thinks they have everything they need in their existing communities? What are you promising to add to or change in their lives that is a good enough reason for them to come on over and join you?

Hi Valeria. I wonder if you might be able to share some insights, anecdotes from your travels on something I've been kind of struggling with in the last year.

I've been trying to get the conversation started on Gearbox for a year, now, but it's spotty at best. In the process, I've made my way back into the trenches of the many discussion forums I frequent, where the people I'm trying to help (my community of more than a decade) tell me the predominant view of blogs is that A) bloggers are only in it for themselves and, B) the only conversations taking place on blogs are petty arguments.

Given the majority of the blogs I've seen in the automotive space, I can see where they get it. It's more of the same build-an-audience-to-monetize, business-exists-to-make-a-profit mindset, but I know what I'm doing is different.

I don't want an active community so I can make money. I want an active community with a strong, mostly-unified voice, which will draw innovators to the space to participate in the discussion and help generate new ideas which genuinely improve the quality of life for all participants.

I've tried suggesting the value of participation through semi-standardized interviews designed to get the readers thinking about things they have in common with one another. I've tried overtly asking questions at the end of every story to draw out specifics. Nothing seems to be working the way I'd hoped.

And maybe therein lies the problem? Could it be I need a chance of perspective? I really believe in what I'm trying to do, here. In the last year and a half in operation, I've made a staggering number of new connections all over the world (Dunbar will be my ticket to the asylum), and many of us have helped each other out as a result, so I know this idea works, but it's not a passive process, ya know? The things we have in common help us realize the potential in our differences, but only when we participate in the conversation.

Over the years, you've shown me what it means to be a Conversation Agent, and your motto of connecting ideas and people drives me to do what I do. It's become my life's work. I've got the ideas. I've seen their potential, but I just can't seem to connect them to people.

You know I'm not in marketing; I really believe products which deliver on their promises become ubiquitous on their own merits, but I've got something I want to more effectively market: "You matter. And you've got the skills and connections right now to build a better life for yourself."

Thanks for the space (and for the life-changing inspiration), Valeria. Ciao.

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