Community is beneficial for those that share a common ground. People grow when challenged by their peers. Many cities in the US have Support Groups or Communities for nannies to connect, but often times nannies tend to work long hours that are focused on the needs, appointments, and priorities of a family. It is likely that some of us belong to a local group, but struggle with attending all the events. Local groups that have an online presence can serve to connect nannies between the events and others that are unable to attend.
CincyNanny is a local community for nannies in Cincinnati that began less than a year ago. As we got started, it was easy to create a Facebook Group and invite people to join. Since Facebook is such a popular networking tool, I figured it would be a great way to connect as nannies too. After a few months, I found that nannies were rarely posting and discussing. I wasn’t quite sure why. After some conversation, I got the feedback that nannies were worried about privacy. They were nervous that employers or even worse strangers may see posts if they shared. (I decided to close the group and open up a fan page instead).
I decided to go in search of something different. I choose not to do a yahoo group because it felt very black and white. There wasn’t an option for one-on-one discussion, but only one-to group.
I was so excited to finally discover Ning. The picture to the left shows an example of one of their forums. Ning is an online social network that can be specifically designed and formatted to the needs of a group using it. I decided to give it a try since it was free. As I began to set it up, I realized that Ning recognized me because Nanny Island was also a Ning forum, and I was already a member. (If you haven’t visited Nanny Island, yet, you should check it out. It is a national social network for nannies.) I was familiar with how it functioned, and hoped that a simple version may be a great answer to for our community to connect online. I was able to upload the CincyNanny logo, customize the items we would use, and even choose the colors!
We began connecting online. Nannies would ask questions, RSVP for events, discuss conferences, setg up play dates, invite to personal parties, and share photos. Before the forum, nannies may want to connect with other nannies they had met at events, but struggled to remember names. I then would be asked to pass on email addresses for nannies, not knowing if they were OK or uncomfortable with it. Nannies can now send private messages to each other or share openly. Nannies now feel comfortable sharing and conversing, because it is a private forum available only to those that are personally invited and approved local nannies. If they had taken the step to join, other nannies knew that they were there to connect and felt confident to do so.
Nannies can create a profile or page for themselves, similar to Facebook. Ning allows the designer to ask the new member questions as they join, but the new member can choose if they want to answer any or all of them. Questions include what area of town do you work, how old are your kids, and what outings do you like to do? Nannies can easily find other nannies that are near them and have like aged children, allowing them to meet up.
It has now been 8 months that we have been using this method! In July, Ning changed their membership and it was no longer free. They currently have 3 options as you create your and customize your own social network. CincyNanny has signed up for the “Mini” package for $2.95/month. This allows us have up to 150 members with their own profile and pages. Members can share photos, read blogs, and discuss topics in the forum. We have found that we this meets the basic needs of our group for now, and will stay at this level for small groups, until we grow to more than 150 members.
There is an option for a 30-day risk free trial here. You could test it out and see how you like it.
Here are some ideas as you get started:
Set up some rules to insure that this is a positive and professional place. In our forum we have this is a text block for all to see:
1. Have a Good Time! CincyNanny Forum is a private place to give and share resources and experiences. Let’s keep it positive! We will not tolerate unprofessional talk, and reserve the right to terminate your membership.
2. Protect the privacy of your family. Do not use their full names, instead use “B” for “Bob” and “S Family” for “Smith Family. Make sure they are comfortable with pictures you share.
3. You may invite local nannies to join, by clicking on the the “Invite” tab. All Nannies are welcome, but they will be approved by the forum administrator. Please communicate all invites to the administrator.
4. Please, no job listings. If you are looking for a position, go to CincyNanny.
5. Please limit your pictures to 15!
We have not had anyone break a rule or act unprofessionally. We monitor closely to make sure that communication is not negative and degrading.
Connect regularly and use this as a place to hear back for RSVPs. Encourage a few nannies to take an active role and set the tone. It can be set up that you get email responses for your posts.
Invite new nannies often. Encourage nannies to invite other nannies. Make sure you know each person and keep this a private place. You will have more of a following if it is a safe place.
This has proven to be a great benefit to our local group! Support group leaders should think about how your local community could benefit for this type of online community! Think about taking it on a trial run or visiting Nanny Island.