I was watching an episode of Shark Tank recently, and there was an investment opportunity that interested two sharks – Daymond John and Lori Greiner. The entrepreneur was negotiating and deciding which of the two sharks to go with.

The entrepreneur was doing what they should do and wasn’t really belaboring the process. But, suddenly, Mrs. Greiner said that if the entrepreneur didn’t choose her immediately, that she would take her offer off of the table. Instantly, I said out loud to the TV, “decision made – you choose John” (or something like that). And sure enough, the entrepreneur did. It was the right choice.

When you are engaging in a good faith manner, and someone threatens you with isolation if you don’t choose them, you should pretty much always not choose them.

Other Communities Shouldn’t Worry You

This is something I keep in mind when it comes to how I act toward other online communities in my vertical. It’s natural for people to join multiple communities. My staff members participate in other communities in my vertical. I don’t have any problem with this. The only thing I care about is if they are happy with me and the community that I manage.

Over the years, I have definitely run into community and forum managers who told their staff members not to visit a particular community. I have never done that. Even with communities that have done nasty things toward us, like spam. My staff knows when someone does something bad – they can make their own decisions.

Since I manage the community, when someone tells me they are a member of similar community, they often feel like they need to say it in a way that doesn’t offend me. Like they need to praise our community before they mention the other one. I always put these people at ease as quickly as I can.

The Positives

If you are really good at what you do, there are benefits to your members being active elsewhere. Often times, they’ll bring new friends back to your community. Not because they spammed or did anything unethical, but because they made a friend and they invited them to your community because they like it so much. I’ve had this happen.

I’ve also had members go away and come back, realizing that our community is really what they want. Sometimes it is tough to know how well something works for you unless you see the alternatives.

There is plenty we can learn from other communities. When I receive feedback about how another community does something, my reaction isn’t “oh my gosh, one of my members is on another community!” It’s “thank you for the feedback, let me see what we can learn.”

What Matters

All I care about is that our members are happy with our community and feel they are treated fairly. That’s the only hope we have of keeping people. I create loyalty by being honest, consistent and respectful. Not by mandating it.

When you tell people not to visit someone else’s community, it betrays an insecurity. It’s a good way to lose people. Those who threaten isolation end up isolated.