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7 Recommendations to Help You Get Your First Community Manager Job

When Day Chokes the Night Getting into community management with no experience can be tough. The role is always evolving, and every company will have a unique need from their community manager.

Here are some tips to build your community experience and make yourself an appealing candidate to a company hiring for a community manager:

1. Figure out what topics of interest you’re most excited about

Any company that’s building a community will have an audience of people who have a common interest. Does the community manager absolutely have to share that common interest? No. But it definitely helps so you can speak the language of the community, and create meaningful conversations.

2. Just start a community

The beautiful thing about community building is that anyone can do it, any time. The best way to gain experience as a community builder is to just build a community around something that interests you. My first community building experience came when I was a hardcore gamer back in middle school. I created an online clan which developed into an entire online community with forums, competitions and more. My next community experience came when I started u30pro with Lauren Fernandez, because we were both young professionals and wanted somewhere to have conversations about the problems we’re facing.

Start a forum, a facebook group, a meetup group, a twitter chat, or utilize any other platform on which you can bring people together.

3. Participate in the community that you want to manage

If the company hiring for the community manager position already has a community, if you’re able to it may be a good idea to participate. Show that you know how to interact with people and lead conversations.

4. Improve your leadership and management skills

Tony Bacigalupo brought up this amazing point to me the other day. He said that community is more about leadership and management. In order to successfully manage a community, the members of that community need to respect you. You’ll find great value in being a leader with a level head that can moderate without bias and keep everything organized.

Tony’s teaching a class on community and all of this that I’d recommend checking out.

5. Really research the jobs beforehand

No two community manager jobs are exactly the same. In fact, a great deal of job listings titled “community manager” actually have nothing to do with community. So don’t just jump at every community manager job posting you see. Really look at what the goals of the company are and what their expectations are.

Avoid any community manager jobs from large companies that expect a really wide range of responsibilities. This often signals that they don’t really know what they’re hiring for.

6. Look for community roles working under an experienced community manager

This is something that I wish I had done. While in the end, jumping in with both feet to take on leading community at Scribnia taught me a great deal, I was only able to get through it thanks to some truly amazing community mentors.

If there’s a community role that’s paying an entry level salary with no equity, and you’re expected to build the community strategy at a high level, there’s a good chance you’ll fail and end up in a bad spot.

Working under an experienced community manager will provide you with much needed clarity in a role that is often clouded by misinterpretation and miscommunication.

7. Talk to other community managers

Before doing any of that, a good idea is to talk to experienced community managers. Ask them about what they do on a daily basis. Ask them about their goals and where they sit in the company. If you can build a relationship with someone that can mentor you as you grow in the position, that’s awesome.

Also valuable is talking to community managers who have the same amount of community experience that you do. I’ve been doing this for a couple years now and it’s extremely valuable to be able to talk to someone else that’s going through similar situations and obstacles that you are. Danya Cheskis Gold and I used to meet a couple times a month and just share our experiences. It provides a great deal of perspective, and comfort in that you’re not the only one dealing with those issues.

 

Help out

If you’ve been hired as a community manager or you’re hiring for a community management position, chime in here. What would you recommend to someone just getting started?

 

Photo cred: Stephan Geyer via Compfight

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About the author

David Spinks

TheCommunityManager.com, CMXSummit and LetsFeast.com. Lifelong student, community builder and writer.

6 comments
jonharules
jonharules

There's a very thin line between Community Managers and Social Media Strategists when I was in the Philippines thus it felt like my first CM role wasn't fully that of a Community Manager. I was doing the works of a strategist and community manager. 

How did I get my first CM job?

I think it's an essential skill for every Community Manager to network with people of similar interest and you are right about talking with existing community managers of the community that you want to manage. It doesn't mean you want to take away their jobs but you're simply showing that you're interested to help grow the community and if needed, volunteer (when opportunities show up).  

TalShomron
TalShomron

Great post! 

I'm also pretty new in community management (7 months in), and when I first started, not knowing what community management was all about, I felt like I was tossed into a pool of freezing water with starving sharks. How was I to build a community and make it work? Get people to be active? (which is the most difficult part- I'm sure you all will agree...).. 7 months later, things are clearing up... the community, thank god, grew and is now 20 times bigger than it what it was when I started off... But back in the beginning, it was scary.

I totally hear you about finding someone who's more or less at the same stage you are as a community manager.. Someone you can meet, talk to, share experiences with and get some helpful insight from. For me whenever I had questions or felt I could use the help of others, I consulted people on a LinkedIn group called 'Online Community Management Best Practices'. People there were very responsive, and very helpful. Though I would have loved to have one person I could talk to directly... To share my thoughts, ideas, concerns and give advice from my experiences with my community... 

So anyone reading this comment, if you're a starting off community manager, or more of a veteran one, and you want to maybe connect and share ideas and thoughts about community management- I'll be more than happy to!! I live in Tel Aviv, but Skype solves everything ;-)

NKivitz
NKivitz

Loving this article Spinks. As someone in their first CM position I wish I would have done a few of these before getting hired, and think it would have helped prevent how overwhelming my first month was. I'll definitely be looking for a mentor to talk things over with now, that's a great suggestion! (Perhaps I'll buy you coffee when you're back in NYC... :)

DavidSpinks
DavidSpinks moderator

@TalShomron Thanks so much for sharing your story Tal.  Yea groups (on facebook) have been a huge help for me as well, and continue to be today.  Very generous offer of you to be a mentor.  What is the community manager scene like in Tel Aviv?  

TalShomron
TalShomron

@DavidSpinks @TalShomron There isn't much of a scene really... ;-) Feeling kinda lonely here, though I am sure there are many community managers around me... Fiverr and many other community related companies are in Tel Aviv... I would love to know which Facebook groups you recommend for community managers- it would be great to be part of a few more great communities of community managers :-) And I don't think I can be a mentor quite yet... But I do think I have a few tricks in my pocket that could be helpful to some beginners :-)

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