1. Understand your users’ needs
Do some research with your users to understand what they want to get out of connections within the network. It’s worth trying to find out more about:
- What makes a good match - do they like random matches or to be matched according to specific criteria?
- Frequency of matches
- Where the people you’re trying to connect are currently gathering. This is important as there are off-the-shelf matching tools that you might be able to use instead. For example, if everyone in your network is using Slack, you could explore Donut.
2. Collect participant data
CAST used Typeform to collect participant data because it’s intuitive for users. It also has an application programming interface (API), which made it straightforward to send the data to GitHub.
You can start much smaller though: for the first few months of Coffee Connections, CAST put names in a hat and sent match emails manually.
3. Set up the database and matching mechanism
Using the Typeform API, you can make sure data flows from Typeform to GitHub to be stored.
Then you need to write a script to trigger matches.
CAST runs the matches every two months, but you can run them more or less frequently.
People are paired up randomly (avoiding anyone they've previously matched with or who is in the same organisation as them). Each pair gets an email addressed to both participants, introducing them and asking them to get in touch.
Make sure an unsubscribe link is included in the emails.
4. Set up Directus
This allows non-technical staff to edit the data and trigger the matches themselves, without having to go into GitHub.
For example, if someone emails and asks to be removed, this can be done in Directus, by editing the database directly.
It’s worth doing some research to work out if this is the right tool for what you need. Understand what features you want out of a platform so you can select one that is fit for purpose.
5. Train staff
Train relevant team members in how to use Directus and manage users’ data.
6. Monitor progress
Look at sign ups and unsubscribes to monitor success of the initiative.
CAST also has a ‘follow up’ email that can be sent to ask participants whether they’ve managed to meet up with their match.
Many thanks to CAST for contributing this recipe.
This recipe is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence.
That means you are free to copy, redistribute, and build on the text of this recipe, but only for non-commercial purposes (if you want to use it for commercial purposes, get in touch with us at [email protected]). You must give credit to both Catalyst and CAST and link back to this page. If you build on this recipe then you must share your version under this same licence.
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