2012_09_17 Community Management IMG_0841 (Photo credit: joelogon)
OK, so I’m stepping away from the fire hose for a moment. I’m today wrapping up, if that even makes sense when you’re on the road, week #5 in my new gig as Senior Community Manager at SDL. Collecting and prioritizing my thoughts and experiences will likely take some time, if only because so many of them do not categorize very simply.
I was asked a really great question recently: what is a successful community manager?
I have a pretty well-formed idea of the answer, but had never articulated it before. My first reaction was to stay away from any kind of description of the community manager him/herself. I feel that a successful community manager is evidenced by the community they work with and for.
Yesterday I officially graduated from the University of Washington with a Master of Communication in Digital Media (MCDM) degree. I have a huge number of people to thank for “holding me up” when I was ready to fall and joining me on the journey. The two primary people I want to thank are my spouse and partner, Carol, and Hanson Hosein, director of the MCDM program (pictured here handing me my diploma). This would have been impossible without them.
Of course, while a signature event, the degree was never really the point. It has always been about the journey, and this has been a doozey. A few years ago I realized that I had reached the limit of what I could do with my existing set of skills and framework of understanding. I considered going for an MBA, but thought better of it for a few reasons.
…with apologies to Was (Not Was)…
Newspapers are signposts of their constituents in so many ways. Just take look at the difference between the Seattle Times, the Des Moines (Iowa) Register and the Boston Globe (the paper/site I took a look at for this post). Each has top line focus on local news, but the Register does not have a link to national/global news on its front page. They choose to stay purely local.
I am a big fan of the comedian Brian Regan. He is the only artist I’ve ever seen from which I came away physically in pain because I was laughing so hard. In one of his bits he tells about growing up in a household full of brothers who were, shall we say, “encouraged” by their mother to go outside and find a “good activity”. Activities discovered were more or less not totally destructive…hilarity ensues.
Anyway, this thought always comes to me when I sit down to write. Although I can sit for long periods of time and spin out stories and opinions to friends and family, when I am confronted with a screen and a blank page, my mind goes into Choke Mode. It’s not that I don’t have anything to say, it’s just that I’ve read so much great stuff from my colleagues and others that I follow across the web that I feel stymied about what I have to contribute.
This morning I ran across a post by Tac Anderson entitled “How to Blog a Lot” that, for some reason, pushed me over the edge (at least for today…). His guidance is a little self-referential: in order to blog a lot, you should blog a lot. A kind of “practice makes perfect (or at least better)” methodology.
Great advice. However, I, like most everyone who works with some kind of PC sitting in front of them all day, spend most of the day responding to e-mail, creating presentations, working on documents, attending meetings, Tweeting, etc. In other words, taking the time out, as Tac suggests, first thing, going over the daily news and posts and then writing about what I find takes a discipline I haven’t really cultivated yet. I guess part of my hesitation has to do with the organizational expectations around e-mail. I have, in the past, tried to remind my colleagues (and myself in my more hassled moments) that e-mail is designed to be asynchronous and that it is unlikely that, if I do not respond to a particular mail for an additional 30+ minutes, the world will end or someone will die….just take a deep breath and allow myself to do something that may contribute to the conversation in the greater community that is the Web. Then I can jump into the swamp-like morass that is daily e-mail.
So I guess this is a good activity……