4 tips to get into Community Management

KeepCalmCM

It’s been a long sought dream to get into Community Management, but there has always been that negativity in the back of my mind. Where do I start? What skills do I need? How do I improve these skills? How do I prove to a company that I can do this role?

Quite ironically as I sat down to rack my brain around these questions and build something of a résumé, I saw My Community Manager had recently done a Google Hangout about transitioning into the role.

I’ve done my fair share of research into the position (namely interviewing two CMs in the video game industry; an industry I thoroughly enjoy). Apart of my research I’ve found How to Get Your First Community Manager Job over at The Community Manager which echoes a lot of the points from the Google Hangout panel, but some tips may be out of date since the article was written in 2012. I’ll continue to reference this article as ‘the article’ from now on for easy reading.

Here are some of the tips I found very interesting from the panel and my general research:

1. Transferable skills

I’ll put this as my number one, but it’s not until near the end of the Hangout does this get mentioned. Social and community platforms come and go, so having skills that work with multiple platforms is a great skill to have. These skills are more about you as a person, than the job. An example, which is also in the video, is Customer Service experience (which I have 10+ years). One of the greatest quotes in the entire video is one made by Venessa Paech:


If that doesn’t describe customer service and community management, I welcome a better quote. Customer service teaches having thick skin to take a verbal beating so that you learn the problem and in turn display empathy for the person’s issue and help resolve it.

2. SQL, HTML, CSS Knowledge

Being a Web Designer and someone who finds interest in these things anyway, I can understand why these skills are important. SQL knowledge helps so that the CM can readily find information that is only found in a database. The article suggests experience with setup of blogging and forum software. You may never have to set up a blog or forum initially, but knowing how to is a great asset. Knowing basic HTML/CSS comes in handy for custom changes when it’s not worth an extra contract at an unnecessary cost to the company.

3. Resume building; list relevant skills at the top

I found this résumé template and Sherrie Rohde says it again: list skills that can show that you can do the job at the top with work experience underneath. That way, as Sherrie says, the résumé focuses more on the skills that apply to the CM role than the job title.

4. Volunteer 

If you have an entrepreneurial friend, ask to manage their community on Facebook, or if you’re long standing member of a community ask to become a moderator. If you’re like me and don’t have either of those, you can point towards the community around your personal brand. It’s an instant gain for the company since your community will most likely follow you to the new position. As the article says, “prior to professional experience, your side projects create your most important community manager résumé material.” I’ve started communities before, having some success until various reasons for them to shut down. But learning from those failures will ultimately help me in the future to make sure they don’t happen again with someone else’s community.

I really appreciate the My Community Manager Google Hangout. I’ve watched a few here and there, but this one was perfect timing and I learned a lot. I look forward to the next one and eventually get on the panel to help others trying to break into the field.

If you have any other tips you’d like to add or good things you’ve seen community management do, I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

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