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For more than a decade, the CPNP Annual Meeting roundtables have provided the opportunity for members to have high-level discussions with others of similar practice settings and interests. After the meeting, members have only been able to continue the discussions one-on-one or on the general email discussion list, and those unable to attend simply missed out.

As part of our 2014-2016 strategic plan, CPNP has committed to expanding networking opportunities and to improving support for collaboration between members. The key step in the process is the formation of CPNP Communities. Communities will provide a basic infrastructure to facilitate email discussions, online resource sharing, and a convenient venue to interact with others in your niche practice setting or around a common area of professional interest.

The concept of online communities is hardly new in 2014, but only with the strong membership growth in recent years have we become large enough to support such efforts. The CPNP Email Discussion List has been such a valued member benefit for so long that we wanted to ensure that we are actually ready to attempt multiple online communities rather than just the one.

With 1/6 of CPNP members contributing time to the organization, it is important to distinguish the role of communities as we move forward. As part of a standing committee, volunteers are working to serve the rest of the membership outside of the committee. The Student Committee reaches out to students, the Program Committee plans the Annual Meeting for other members, and so on. On the other hand, communities exist primarily for the benefit of those involved in the community. The Research Community provides a support network for researchers, the CMM Community connects those interested in CMM, and so on. This inward focus can really improve effectiveness since the group can discuss what they need rather than guessing about what others need.

Fortunately, we have a strong technology portfolio available to us because of our established volunteer structure. To allow all of our members to participate, the communities will initially use some well-established technologies that our members already know and grow from there as communities grow.  Each community will have an email discussion list. Each community will have a workspace filled with member-contributed resources. And each community will have the option of conference calls to discuss hot topics in real time. The email list discussions and resources will be archived on the web site for all members to access.

As the communities mature and members upgrade their technology, we will continue to invest in the communities initiative to give CPNP members all the best professional networking opportunities.

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