Community Manager Conference – Why you should have been there!

23rd July 2010 by Martin

When on Friday, July 9th 2010, more than 100 visitors listened to the opening panel of the Community Manager Conference in Leipzig, it was possible to see the excitement in their faces from my chair next to the other panel members. Excitement possibly coming from the opening speech just a few minutes ago and either seeing a lot of familiar faces in the audience or being new to the field and expecting to take away a lot of useful tips.

The opening speech made it very clear. Asking the audience ‘What is Community Management?’ brought it straight to the point why a Community Manager Conference does make sense. It’s by far not the very first time I saw this question being raised and everyone giving a different answer. The first time was years ago and still not much seems to have changed. No wonder then that the audience got excited hoping to know the answer by the end of the day. This, on the other hand, would have been a wonder. Nonetheless, the CMC proved to be a stepping stone for many who are now hoping to be able to visit similar events in the future – and maybe one day be able to answer this question without second thoughts and hesitation.

The other thing that became clear is that while Community Managers tend to know each others (board)names and faces, they usually don’t have time for long discussions at conventions where their companies are exhibiting. This is usually the time where Community Managers bond with the community itself as those shows are more consumer oriented – and consumer relationships are a vital part of each Community Manager’s job. The CMC did a great job in bringing people together and get to know each other better.

Most likely everyone will have left the convention with different thoughts but I am sure most of them were positive. If you haven’t attended CMC or aren’t sure if you should visit future conferences then here’s a short list of things you could take away from being there.

Think outside the box

A lot of Community Manager job descriptions list ‘thinking outside the box’ as a desired ability. While it’s easy when you start the job – maybe coming from the outside or even the fanbase – it gets tougher once the routine kicks in. You know how your company rolls, what your managers want to see and it becomes tempting to take less risks and focus on safe results. ┬áSpeaking with or listening to other Community Managers enables you to not forget how to think outside the box. While many share the same challenges, the approaches to tackle them differ. Beyond that, everyone has other special abilities and ideas. Ideas you might have never thought about before – maybe because of lack of time or treading water. Get inspired!

Personal development

Inspiration is one thing, the actual implementation is the tough part. Talking to other Community Managers can help you improve your knowledge and gain more skills. A rule I’ve told myself but unfortunately not follow all the time is to also visit speeches or panels I don’t have a clue about at all. Sure, the title of a speech might sound interesting if it’s a topic I am enthusiastic about but then I often find myself leaving the room an hour later not having learnt anything new. It might even have been a great speech but only 5-10 minutes of it have been things I haven’t heard before. It does not have to be a speech about quantum physics but anything outside my expertise might give me 50-60 minutes of new knowledge. This knowledge might not be necessary for my day to day routines but can come in handy when encountering an unusual problem or trying something new.

Finding the answer – what do you do?

As mentioned before, even Community Managers still have problems describing what their job actually is. If they don’t know, how are others supposed to know? You might end up in a situation where you have to sell your services and by then it’s best to know how valuable you are. Maybe your company hired you just because they heard that they need Community Managers without even knowing exactly why and how to track their value. (Same phenomenon can sometimes be seen with Social Media Managers these days). This shouldn’t stop you from learning from other people’s experiences to find out how things are being managed elsewhere.

Maybe it’s the other way round and you already have a clear image of not only doing what you’ve been told but shining as an expert in some areas. Share that knowledge and get knowledge back in return.

Community Management takes place in an ever changing environment. Your community might be totally different than other communities. A global and everlasting definition of Community Management and its tasks might never be found but there is one question you should be able to answer when being asked:

‘What is in there for me if I let you manage our community?’

One Response to “Community Manager Conference – Why you should have been there!”

  1. Stephane Lo Presti Says:

    Really great article. I'm a big fan of Personal development but it's challenging timewise.

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