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Community Club Weekly

Issue #94 | Sep 23rd 2021

Community Club Weekly is a newsletter about building and growing communities, featuring collected tweets, posts, and thoughts from various Community Managers.

🤓 The Real Reason We Keep Learning? To Build Confidence


By Noele Flowers

If you’re reading this newsletter, you already know a lot about community management. Whether you're an industry expert or just “community curious", I’m willing to bet you know more about professional online community management than 90% of the population.

That’s pretty cool. And, that’s way ahead of where I was when I started my career in community management — totally unaware that there was a community out there already writing, thinking, and sharing about this field. I learned pretty well through trial and error in my first community role, but ultimately, I learned best directly from other community pros sharing their wisdom: either in informal settings like networking and communities, or formal ones, like workshops, books, and blogs. But, the reason those learning experiences were so valuable to me, in comparison to mere trial and error, might be surprising.

What I really gain from professional development in community management is as much about validating my existing knowledge and learning tested ways to communicate my current expertise as it is about gaining “net new” knowledge. I hear the same thing from some Community Managers going through C School’s Coaching Track. It may not be their first exposure to engagement and moderation, stakeholder management, or community strategy, but engaging with these concepts in a structured environment with other professionals helps them practice speaking knowledgeably about the experiences and expertise they may already have.

Here, I want to break down some of the less-talked-about benefits of professional development, which all ladder up into the bigger headline: building confidence.

Leaning on examples and case studies

One of the biggest challenges I faced within my first year as a Community Manager was gaining organizational buy-in to bring my ideas to fruition. I had a lot of ideas for community programs I felt confident would help my organization meet our goals, but I always left pitches feeling like I hadn’t successfully transferred my enthusiasm to decision-makers.

At a certain point, though, I stumbled across a “magic” cure for this: giving examples of other companies who had already implemented programs I wanted to replicate. With the help of case studies from other organizations (which I often learned about through professional development), collaborators could better visualize what I was trying to achieve.

What’s interesting about this is that the core idea of the project often didn’t change. I already had the creativity and knowledge to actually build the program — what I really lacked was exposure to the community industry that allowed me to lean on other’s work, gaining confidence and credibility.

When building C School, showing lots of examples of existing community projects, not to mention those of the other students in the room, became a crucial component of learning. For students, walking away with examples of other communities is often just as important as their actual strategy.

Practicing communicating existing ideas

Another turning point for me in building confidence in my work as a Community Manager was simply practicing communicating like one. Part of this was leaning on the words other community professionals already used to describe their work. In conversations with stakeholders, it was often more effective for me to say “in the community industry, our community is considered a community of practice” than “our community is a place where people come together to learn a skill.”

Again, this wasn’t an issue with shifting the core idea — just the way it was communicated. This might seem silly, but using agreed-upon industry terms tells your listener that you’re an expert — that you’re keyed into the industry, connected with other professionals, and on top of best practices.

Another element of building confidence in this way was sharing my ideas on community management proactively, before I had to come up with them for a particular project. To me, this often meant sharing on my blog. One of the biggest benefits of that was that it gave me time to think about, articulate, and edit my ideas before speaking them out loud, for example, in a meeting.

After publishing something on my blog, I often felt much more confident communicating the same idea verbally. A student from C School’s Coaching Track expressed something similar — when giving his capstone project, a community strategy pitch, he shared that he was actually expected to share a similar pitch with his company’s executive team the following week. Taking time to practice communicating his ideas prior to “the big event” gave him a big edge (and, in case you’re wondering, the pitch went well!).

Portfolio-building

Professional development often comes with creating owned, templatized work you can lean on when you discuss your approach with current or future employers. A big component of my own growth in the community world has been creating work samples, for projects real or imagined, based on the programs I’ve learned of through blogs, workshops, and informal conversations with other pros.

After learning of a feature ideation program a friend had launched at work, I spent time gaming out a similar program for my company at the time. Even though my company never actually launched that program, I’ve still gotten to use that work with consulting clients, and spoken about my approach in past job interviews. In this way, I have real experiences I can speak to in the community world that extend beyond actual roles I’ve held.

In building C School, I’ve folded in similar opportunities for students: all students work on producing a community content calendar, a platform implementation/migration pitch, and finally, a capstone strategy presentation that they pitch to peers. For students, this is often less about doing something they could never have done without a course, and more about entering a structured environment for producing re-usable assets for their own portfolio that will support them throughout their career.

So: while professional development can be about learning “net new” information (and many folks totally new to community management go through C School for this reason), in my career, it’s been equally valuable to build confidence through structured practice, experience, and exemplar cases to lean on. You can’t have one without the other, but gaining the confidence to communicate your work in credible formats can be as valuable as the knowledge you have to begin with.

🍨 C School Scoop

We've got two new cohorts launching soon! Here are some details on how to apply and learn more.

Coaching Track Cohort

Who it's for: Current Community Managers at the individual contributor level with between 0-3 years experience.

What you'll master: Up-leveling your current contributions, producing a community strategy.

Classes start: October 25, 2021

Find out more on our site or join our info session TODAY at 3 p.m. ET

Submit an application by October 1st here.
 

Career Track Cohort

Who it's for: Career changers looking to pivot into community management.

What you'll master: Foundations of community management and all the skills you need to find your first job.

Classes start: November 8, 2021

Find out more on our site or watch our info session here (password: @Gf%k8?S)

Submit an application by October 8th here.

✨ If you have any questions, pop them over to cschool@community.club.

📆 Upcoming Events

Upcoming events, from the club and its members

Community OPServations with Cassie Mayes & Tiffany Oda — Sep 23 @ 1 p.m. ET

C School Coaching Track Info Session — Sep 23 @ 3 p.m. ET

Fireside Chat: How Slow & Steady Growth was the Right Way to Build Dreamers & Doers with Gesche Haas — Sep 23 @ 3 p.m. ET

Building Customer Community to Drive Growth — Sep 24 @ 1 p.m. ET

The Virtual School House: The Opportunity and Challenge of eLearning — Sept 30 @ 12 p.m.

Future Developer Summit Episode #3: Defining Success & Metrics — Oct 6 @ 11 a.m. ET

Forming an Effective Community Strategy with Brian Oblinger — Oct 13 @ 12:30 p.m. ET

🐦 Community Tweets

👏👏👏  and a massive congratulations to the Venafi team on their community launch!
Yup. 
Louder!

📚 Community Content List

Community blog posts, articles, podcasts, and videos from the past week
 

Storytelling Is Sticky: How to Use It as a Glue in Your Community

One of community's most effective engagement tactics is often overlooked, Oana Filip writes.

By Oana Filip

The Best Social and Community Apps 2021

A list of more than 300 curated apps and tools that Threado recommends to help you build, grow and manage your online community.

By Threado

How 'Engagement' Makes You Vulnerable to Manipulation and Misinformation on Social Media


"The heart of the matter is the distinction between provoking a response and providing content people want."

By Filippo Menczer

🙌 Community Jobs

A few job opportunities, sourced from the community.
 

Quality Architect Evangelist @ Provar

Community Manager @ Magic

Community Lead, Startup CTOs @ AWS

Community Manager West Africa @ Humanitarian OpenStreetMap Team

Head of Community @ My Climate Journey

Head Of Community @ Eventbrite

Online Community Engagement Manager @ Cultivate

Developer Relations @ CTO_ai

Community Manager @ Comity Labs

Senior Community Programs Manager @ Okta
 

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View more roles and join the Talent Network

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This week brought to you by...

our Content Creator, Kirsti, who is super excited about hosting our Fireside Chat with Gesche Haas today!

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