Squirrel! Moment

December 7, 2011. The day my temporary work visa was granted, opening the door to moving to Vancouver, BC, CA. The end of 2011 is a bit of a blur. Like Natalie, I divested myself of as many possessions as possible, packed what remained and left my family, friends and all that was familiar behind. But let’s back up a step or two.

Technical and Copy Writing Job…Squirrel!

I got into community management completely by accident. Call it a Squirrel! moment. I had previously been a technical writer/communications coordinator, until I got laid off. I had my fingers crossed on landing a copy writing position with a Fortune 500 company, but when that didn’t happen, I just kept freelancing, wondering what the future holds. And then in popped a direct message from a company I had heard of at ABA TECHSHOW but knew little about.

From Unknown to Award-Winning

My Twitter reputation often proceeds me at legal conferences. And a direct message, fittingly, is how I got my start at Clio. Along with building its community by taking over its blog and social profiles, I was charged with turning an idea for a group blog into something, a resource, and building community around it as another means of extending the reach of the Clio community. In less than a year, I turned that idea into an award-winning blog, Small Firm Innovation. Not bad for accidentally falling into this community management thing.

At Clio, and by extension Small Firm Innovation, building community isn’t an idea either. It’s an action.

#GoneClio interviews that often yield #cliotraining Tips, our  Clio Rewards program and highly regarded customer service, along with social media channels and meetups, are all ways we actively cultivate and grow our community. We also recognize that our community includes the legal education community where we help them find ways to prepare the lawyers of the future, and the cloud computing community at large. That’s a fairly large community to cultivate and engage, and it can be a challenge to be heard above the fray.

Technical Writing Skills and the Challenges of Community Management

Sounds like an odd match, but the two are more inline than people realize. The skills I use as a technical writer are useful for community management, especially for a Software-as-a-Service company. You have to take sometimes complicated information and make break it into simple, easy to understand chunks. And you also need to be able to spot patterns and communicate them clearly. This knowing the product, your audience and injecting some humor into otherwise boring language.

That can be done a few different ways, like using more playful phrasing than straight up technical jargon, or presenting a comical example to illustrate why a certain feature is useful. Community management is quite similar, and the two go hand-in-hand. I need to communicate the concept and benefits of cloud computing to lawyers, a profession notorious for being risk adverse and behind the technology times, as well as features and nuances of Clio.

Mountains are Inspiration

I grew up in Chicago. And while it has a beautiful skyline, especially when viewed from the Shedd Aquarium at sunset, it’s flat. The Midwest is flat. When I got to Vancouver, I found myself surrounded by mountains. I fell in love with the mountains.

When Clio moved to its new office space, I set myself up on the East Deck on many mornings just so I could work and look at the mountains. They serve as my inspiration, be it at the office or at the beach a few blocks from my apartment. No matter which direction you turn, in Vancouver, you see mountains. Sunny days, they’re beautiful. Rainy days, and it there are many of them, the mountains still manage to seem majestic. And for me, they create space in my head to relax and let my brain absorb the ridiculous amount of information I consume.

Keep Following Along

Be it Twitter, Google+ or my blog, feel free to follow along. One never knows where life will take you, and what you’ll learn along the way.

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About the author

Gwynne Monahan

#Writer. Problem Solver. Equal Opportunity Retweeter (EORT). #privacy advocate. @womma #CMCouncil. Clio #cmgr. #Editor Small Firm Innovation, #blawg100 LPM #winner.