Want to know your neighbors?  Go Nextdoor 8

Every year, I help organize a 5k fun run/walk to support our local school. Time and again, there is one place I turn to encourage race registration, communicate route logistics and parking restriction, and give shout-outs to event sponsors: Nextdoor.com

This neighborhood-based online community is key to my 5k marketing efforts, but this is only the tip of the neighborhood networking iceberg. Garage Sales, recommendations, neighborhood crime and safety watch, babysitters, block parties…it’s all here and more. A few months ago, for example, a friend shared that her dog was missing on Facebook. Within the hour, another neighbor used Nextdoor to post a photo of a dog she had just found. It was the same dog! Social networking worlds collided, and I quickly put these two neighbors in touch. Happy ending for all.

Studies show that 30 percent of Americans know none of their neighbors by name.

With Nextdoor, neighbors don’t have to be strangers, and they don’t have to be best friends. Instead, it creates a middle ground where strong, friendly relationships can form to build more vibrant, connected communities.

This approach is paying off. Since launching in 2010, Nextdoor has been adopted by more than 122,000 neighborhoods across 50 states, accounting for about 70 percent of all U.S. neighborhoods.

In Carlsbad, our San Pacifico neighborhood was the first to start using the free social network. Now 53 neighborhoods within the city of Carlsbad are connected on Nextdoor, joining more than 1,200 Nextdoor neighborhoods in the greater San Diego area.

To sign up, you just log on to nextdoor.com, and enter your email and home address. If it’s already available for your geographic area, you’ll automatically be invited to join that neighborhood. If not, you’ll be given the option to create one by drawing the boundaries of your neighborhood on a map, naming your Nextdoor site, and inviting your neighbors. Your identity and address must be validated before membership is accepted.

Once you’re logged in, you’ll find house-by-house maps of neighbors who are members. There are also forums for posting items of general interest, like Classifieds, Crime & Safety, Free Items, Lost & Found and Recommendations. Go to the website to view recent postings, or opt to receive new posts by emails or in daily digests. An app is also available for Androids and iPhones.

Your personal information is kept private so that only neighbors can see you, and your identity will never be sold to marketers. Though Nextdoor was originally advertising-free, it is now funded in part through sponsored posts from paying businesses.