How did you start in community management? What was your career path across the years?
I probably have one of the most misaligned career paths one can have! I started out in retail, then pharmaceuticals, and taught English in South Korea, followed by working for Greenpeace in Australia, only to go back to teaching in Spain. After finishing up my master’s degree there, I was hired at my university in their Student Affairs department as their Associate Director of Community Engagement to bring the campus to life through university-wide events, student clubs, and activities among other things. Although demanding, the results were nothing short of amazing, and the friendships made through working with the students is something I will forever cherish. And that was the start of my community career.
What have been the main challenges of your career?
Growing up, I had so many interests, that once I reached university, I changed my major 5 times. It is great to have multiple interests but it led to indecisiveness when I got in the workforce (can you tell from my previous answer?). Now I look at differently, sure I may be a Jack of all trades (and master of none) but being a generalist gives me flexibility – I am a dabbler, an explorer, a learner. My meandering career path led me to where I am today, and I wouldn’t have it any other way!
What have helped you develop yourself as a community professional?
Being an active member of communities like CMX and the Community Club, continously learning and upskilling, signing up to (almost) every community newsletter out there, listening to podcasts, and meeting fellow CMs. All of these I have used and applied to my professional life. My favorite out of all of these has been leaning on the community – there is nowhere else I feel more supported than with other community people.
What is community for you?
Community is a word that evokes many different depictions. It is often said that it takes a village to raise a child. In my opinion, it takes communities to advance and successfully maintain our society as we know it. Historically, our species has survived and prospered by coming together into social groups we now call “community”. Communities have provided protection in collective defence, and in the division and sharing of labor and resources. Most importantly, communities have been most significant in offering us fundamental meaning in life – and I believe that we are that much closer to our vision of a world where everyone can give and receive help, through the power of community.
What's one single strategy that you may suggest to increase member engagement?
A member engagement strategy is an ongoing initiative with many trials and errors done along the way until you find the right fit. One that I enjoy doing right now is empowering my members by giving them the spotlight. It also introduces them on a deeper level to the rest of the community. Let’s see if it sticks…
What would you recommend to those just starting into community management?
I would recommend joining communities of practice about community management/managers and getting involved: attending events and sessions, conferences (F2F or online), listening to community podcasts (there are quite a few!) and connecting and following people in the industry. Get in touch with me. Happy to help!