Defining your role as a community pro

There were all types of community professionals at our CMAD: Boston Breakfast this morning. Some were looking for new opportunities, some were lone wolves (one even managing a global brand), and others came in groups like like one small team connecting founders to founders. Everyone showed up for a common purpose, though — to learn and feel that sense of belonging every community pro knows is so important.

Happy CMAD 2016

On Community Manager Appreciation Day (CMAD), it made sense to tackle how each of us defines our community role. Did we come into a set position and established team or a brand new gig or company? Did we self-identify as a community professional or not? Did our responsibilities stay the same or evolve over time? All of the above.

#CMXBoston at the Hatch co-working space in Fenway. I assure you the swings say “Get crackin’” and not “Get crack!”

Educate others and work to find the right fit

Some major themes popped-up throughout our roundtable. Many community pros need to take time and think proactively about educating others. And, it takes work to find the right title and fit. Here are some insights and advice from the #CMXBoston crew.

Educate your community and your company

  • Not everyone is a community genius like you. Be aware that implied or assumed responsibilities may not fit the norm, be the best fit for you, or make an impact on company goals. Ask what the person before you did or what you’ll be expected to do. Be honest about what you think would be best to pursue and when you would need more help to complete ambitious projects.
  • Every hire will need to know best practices, the details of your operation, what resources they can use, and who is the best person to go to when things get crazy. Check out CMX,, and Trello for help setting up your new employee onboarding.
  • Your success depends on how well you communicate progress and wins with others. Pinpoint your go-to metric, early, and update others on its status, often. Sometimes there can be a gap between what you value or see on the front lines and what is visible quantitatively. Attaching a qualitative member story to every metric check-in goes a long way. Long-term, measure and build a case for what you know drives more value.

Just keep digging for the right fit

  • Community can move many levers including product, growth, and support. Different communities offer opportunities in each (or all!) of these areas. Know your strengths and look for a role that capitalizes on them. It’s also wise to know where your weaknesses are so you can setup or find a strong team to balance them.
  • Some pros feel as though there’s a stigma to being offered a Community Manager role. Not because it isn’t an awesome job, but because it’s not always inclusive of the full weight of responsibility hiding within the job description. Look out for roles that ask you to do everything — it may be a signal that higher ups will need lots of education, or that there are some unrealistic expectations being set for you.
  • Startups or newly added community roles may need some time and research to figure out exactly what’s needed. Plan a set timeline for research and lots of 1:1 meetings with members, coworkers, and other community pros to find how you can deliver value. If they could wave a wand and have one problem be magically solved, what would they choose? Get a true fit by digging into the problems and people in your community.

Join the conversation in Slack and at #CMXBoston events

There were also lots of bonus chats about segmentation, diversity, key performance indicators, the best events in Boston/Cambridge, and more. Come to the next event to join the conversation, or shout out @SaraSigel for an invite to our Slack chat.

Also a BIG thank you to Hatch Fenway, Pavement Coffeehouse, and my co-organizers Christine DelCastillo and Margot Mazur.

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