I think that city and national groups mostly do a good job of prioritising the opportunities that they have available to them. There are a few areas that seem like they have the potential to be high impact, but that I don’t hear much about (n.b., not that I hear nothing about, but less than I’d expect). My confidence level is low, as I think there is a reasonable chance that

  1. These areas would not be high impact
  2. These areas are already happening, and I just hear about them less than I’d expect for some reason

With those caveats in mind, I’d be very interested in hearing community builders’ reactions to the following ideas:

  • Forwarding specific job adverts to specific community members.
    • Why: As of time of writing the EA Consulting network (EACN) has recently placed two people in highly impactful EA roles in the last 2 months, both of which said they would not have applied had EACN not nudged them to do so. There are many people who consistently underrate their own abilities, and being told that they could be good at a job seems like a very valuable service
    • Testability: Seems cheap to test - an hour per fortnight scanning the 80k job board and sending relevant placements to community members. If no placements in 6 months, maybe this isn’t valuable
  • Tabling (not at universities)
    • Why: Tabling has long been used by university groups, to great effect, but I have not heard of attempts to do this in spaces with high potential professionals
    • Testability: Running a 1-off test in collaboration with a workplace or professional group, seems like a cheap test. To act as a point of comparison: In the Netherlands tabling at universities found 50+ people who want to take a book, 20+ sign ups for intro events and 5+ fellowship sign-ups
  • Testing models of community building
    • Why: Each group has its own strategy for community building. Many of these are shared (e.g., here). However it is really hard to compare these strategies, as it is difficult to disentangle the impact of the strategy, luck, local conditions, and the ability of the community builder (among other factors). Tests where community builders try to mentor community builders from smaller groups to use their model would (a) provide valuable insights on community building strategies (b) deliver value via mentorship
    • Testability: Pretty high investment, I don’t see any quick tests here
  • Establishing programs to develop the skills that target hiring managers’ needs, as defined here (some needs are already targeted e.g., AGI SF, but there are still gaps)
    • Why: The main impact of community building comes through the community going on to do cool stuff. It seems sensible to try and build a community that best enables the cool stuff. I already see examples of these, and they often appear very valuable, which makes me wonder why I don't see even more examples. These efforts could either be
      • Community building in areas where you expect to find specific skills (e.g., co-hosting talks with policy groups to attract people with policy skills)
      • Building/identify skills directly (e.g., an internship program to either develop skills in launching new projects, or finding people who are already good at that)
    • Testability: Some groups are already explicitly targeting skills, e.g., AGI SF or EA DC's talks in partnerships with other organizations, and success can be judged of these. There are also some ecosystem wide projects (e.g., CEA’s Launch internship) which could inform the viability of replicating these types of programs

N.b., an earlier version said EA Netherlands were having an upcoming collaboration with Training for Good, although this is no longer planned

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3 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 12:13 PM

Interesting read! Thanks for sharing! I imagine some points might even apply to 

  1. university groups e.g., targeting specific people who could fill talent gaps or doing A/B testing (even though I am very uncertain about this)
  2. myself (and potentially other EAs) e.g., I should probably prioritize looking for open jobs and forwarding it to relevant people even higher. Personally, I keep a list of the top ~10 most promising people I know and who could be open for new positions and try to keep them in my mind, if I stumble across opportunities. This post is a good nudge to potentially think about a more systematic and time-effective approach to this low-effort/passive matchmaking.

For the EACN, we 

  1. have put some thought into tracking metrics of members to make meaningful referrals. Probably it is still not optimal and needs adaption based on your groups circumstances, but feel free to reach out, if this is of interest to your group
  2. did A/B/C/D testing with all the workplace groups at the different consulting firms (Note: the EACN only servers as an umbrella org and includes several workplace groups as well as consultants without a workplace group). We want to spend the summer learning from each other's different community-building approaches after 1 year of trying things. I hope we can share insights and scale what has been working to other groups (both within the EACN and potentially beyond, if applicable)
  3. are currently developing a plan to target social impact student consultancies to address the top 2 (out of 3) EA orgs needs for talent: management and ops. We are currently exploring a potential partnership with 180° degrees consulting, which has 150+ student chapters and want to partner with EA university groups to do some outreach pilots. Let us know if you would be interested in potentially setting up a pilot at your university with a local social impact student consultancy

Looking forward to learning more from other groups

Thanks Jona, I agree that there is potential applicability beyond city and national groups - including for individuals.

I'm excited by the results of the A/B/C/D testing!

Leaving this comment for people who got here and have no idea what 'tabling' is. From one of the linked posts:

Tabling - setting up a table in a high-traffic area and advertising your group, usually with big posters, and free food/books/swag - what you do at club fairs without it being a club fair.