I’m conducting a seminar at the National Home Furnishing Association’s Conference in High Point, NC in two days and I’ve been gathering my thoughts for the past three. The working title is “Managing Online Communities: Getting YOUR Message to the Masses.”

Since launching WRAL.com’s online community GOLO last summer, I’ve seen the phenomenon of social networking unfold before my very eyes. It was quite intriguing, and it’s still amazing to watch as we continue to grow. We are now well beyond 6,000 members and I must say that a real community has formed. As the Managing Editor, it is my job to provide vision, determine strategy and engage the community. It is more than a full-time job.

My goal through this seminar is to offer ideas on how businesses can successfully interact within communities like GOLO and get their message across without being shunned, ignored or worse…labeled as spam or marked as abuse.

It’s a delicate balance, but it can be done. It takes time and commitment and I’m sure my message won’t be accepted by all in attendance. I do plan to provoke thought and introduce new ideas that will hopefully infuse new life into an industry that’s seeking new information and ideas.

The powerpoint I’m preparing has promise. I just gave it another once-over and it’s quite convincing. I just hope that I can open their minds and encourage a new way of thinking.

I believe in the power of online communities and I know what they want. It is now up to those who want or even need to reach them, to do it on the community’s terms.

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