IT Ukraine Association is the largest association of IT companies in Ukraine, representing 90,000 skilled IT professionals in over 120 businesses.

One of the Association's goals is to connect member businesses with international partners and business opportunities. Head of International Cooperation Olena Berestetska wanted to maximise the impact of this work by focusing on small and medium-sized businesses that have access to fewer resources and contacts.

Key to her strategy was building an online community to enable members to cooperate with each other, as well as working with the Association. Following a recommendation from a community expert, Olena chose Guild for its user-friendly interface, easy mobile access and flexible structure.

Results in brief

  • Over 50% of association members engaged in the community within 6 months
  • Structured conversations enable conversations in Ukrainian, English and other languages
  • Effective 2-way communication between the Association and its member companies
  • Easy creation of new community for external partners and supporters

Why did IT Ukraine Association want to build a community and who is it for?

''We wanted to improve how we communicate with our members about our international activities, and encourage them to communicate with each other.

When you move from a two-way conversation to a networked one, you multiply everyone's potential – and that's what a community does.

We found that the familiar methods of communication like email and Telegram channels just weren't as effective as we needed.

We also wanted to focus on our small and medium business (SMBs) members. They often don't have the resources and contacts that bigger businesses enjoy.

SMBs share so many of the same challenges and a community allows them to support and learn from each other, as well as the Association.

Community is the best way to communicate. Especially in today's very separated world where we are all in different countries, time zones and companies.

A community allows us all to come together even when we have to be apart.''

How have you launched and grown the community?

''We were able to invite each member individually because we'd focused the community on our SME members. It's a fairly exclusive or ''boutique'' feel so I meet with each member to talk about their plans, target market, and their activities.

We created a simple onboarding process, and we try to communicate and reinforce the potential value to our members.

Simply joining in a conversation to say ''this is what our company did in that situation'', or sharing an idea, can have a huge impact.

It's not just about the people involved in a single conversation. A community is full of potential business partners.  

Every post is a chance for them to get to know you.

It does take courage to step forward and ask questions or share your insights. Members who do get involved have seen real results, reaching markets in the UK, Germany and Scandinavia, so we keep building on that and sharing successes with those who are more cautious.

It's been very effective - around half our members are now engaged in the community and it continues to grow.''

What features do you and your members appreciate most on Guild?

''The ability to structure conversations is especially helpful. We have separate threads by geographical area so that people can join in the conversations that are most relevant to them while still being able to observe and learn from the rest.

Event Conversations have been useful in making the most of our busy programme. We add an event to the events listing and it instantly begins a conversation. Everyone knows from the start where to ask questions or find more information and updates. That saves time but it also means members feel much more involved in the events.

The Visibility Boost feature means we can publish our news, and requests from the Association and from our partners, and know that everyone will see them. But it's not just about broadcasting announcements – it's easy for our members to send back their own requests and news and to share them with each other.

As an international association, we've found Guild very easy to use. We have conversations in different languages in the same community and it all works very smoothly.

Finally, the mobile app has been great. Our members find it easy to use, but I also love it as the community manager. It makes it easy to check in on the community whenever I have spare time. A little and often approach works well and that flexibility is really helpful.''

What would you say to other associations thinking about creating an online community on Guild?

''Encouraging your members to communicate in the same space, the same place, same platform offers so much value. They have the opportunity to make connections, but you can also learn from simply listening to the conversations.

Ask around and make sure you pick a platform that's right for you. We got some advice from a community expert – they suggested Guild and it felt like a great fit from the start.

It's also good to start small. Make sure you know who the community is for and what you want it to do.

If you have a good foundation, you can build from there.

We're still growing our community with our existing members and partners but in future, we plan to invite international businesses to join so that they can communicate directly with our members.

There's so much potential in building a community – the important thing is to take the first step.''

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