From BToBOnline:

Seven steps to building a social network
1. Consider your target audience. Who and how many people you’re trying to reach will determine the size, type, life span and language of the social network needed.

2. Determine the site’s mission, message or goal. Talent management, project collaboration, new business, mentoring, corporate training support, centralized resources and industry news are only a few of the possible purposes for your site. Consult with your PR department to make sure the site is consistent with other corporate communications efforts.

3. Decide what features are needed. Differentiate your site from a plethora of others by including the features most relevant to your membership, such as the ability to schedule meetings or upload conference photos and white papers.

4. Set guidelines. Creating a user agreement that addresses issues of privacy, security, monitoring, ethics and moderation establishes trust right from the site’s launch.

5. Design a short- and long-term budget. What will it cost to launch, market and maintain the community and who will pay for it?

6. Invite people to participate. Generate excitement among members, and allow users to give feedback on the site.

7. Keep the site active. Steady updates will keep the site fresh and free of out-of-date content.

Source: Interviews with Joe Cothrel, VP of Community Management Services; Mark Sylvester, CEO of introNetworks; and Michael Wilson, CEO of Small World Labs.

It’s a bit light-on, if you really interested in this sort of stuff, you might want to come to my open/public one day course at the University of Sydney on 7 March 2008 (That’s a FRIDAY):

Course description:

Your consumer is spending a lot of time on Facebook and other online communities – find out how to build a social network around your products and services that will engage your customers and meet their needs. Successful corporate sites are now enabling visitors to talk to each other and contribute content using Web 2.0 tools. Benefits include people creating personal connections and maintaining relationships through your site, increasing the number of visitors and length of stay, brand recall and loyalty, and a decrease in technical and customer support. In this workshop we’ll explain how to build and maintain an online community around your business. We’ll examine the various types of social networks and discuss creating spaces for different types of connecting, then look at developing in-depth rules of engagement such as codes of conduct, FAQ, moderating member forums and chat rooms, and encouraging members to implement word of mouth to grow the network. This is not a technical course but a reasonable familiarity with blogs and forums will be assumed.

PDF for more info here: and enrol here on the Centre for Continuing Education page.

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