9 Unexpected Places to Find Good Community Managers

Finnigan'sI was recently asked an interesting question that went something like,

“What other fields would you recommend to someone looking for a good potential community manager?”

Businesses often look to the Marketing and Public Relations fields to find community managers. Why is that?

While you can find people in those fields who would make good community managers, those fields don’t always provide skills that you’d need in a good community manager.

Of course the most important thing you want to do when looking for a community manager is stop, think about exactly what this community manager will be doing and determine the specific skills that they’d need in order to accomplish those things.

There are a few different areas that you could find really amazing community managers.  Here are some that I’ve seen in my experience as a community builder:

1. Restaurants

Anyone who’s ever worked as a bartender, waitress or busboy has learned truly valuable skills that can be applied to community.

You know how to:

  • deal with angry customers
  • make a happy customer and you know why that’s important
  • manage a lot of simultaneous needs and conversations
  • talk to people

2. Politics

If you’ve ever worked on a campaign, there’s a good chance you’d make a good community manager.

You know how to:

  • bring people together around a common belief
  • encourage groups of people to take action
  • organize local events for communities
  • reach people by doing personal outreach

3. Gamers

Gaming communities have been around for a lonnnng time. Most hardcore gamers have been a part of, or organized teams, clans or other groups of people, especially in online games.  Some start forums to support their communities. Others just do it all within the game.

Gamers who build clans or other gaming communities know how to:

  • build loyalty amongst a group of people
  • create relationships online
  • moderate issues between people
  • organize events or competitions

4. Journalists

A lot of community management is knowing how to present ideas that will bring people together using words, images and other content.

Journalists know how to:

  • tell a story
  • get a conversation started
  • inspire action

5. Camp Counselors

Often, camp counselors aren’t that far off from the age of the kids in their groups. They need to be authoritative, but not so much that the kids don’t like you because it’s their summer break, and they’re not taking shit from anyone.

Camp counselors know how to:

  • be fun and likable
  • but still maintain order and control
  • be a moderator of disputes
  • come up with creative ways for people to interact

6. Theatre / Improv

Alex Hillman wrote this great post with 3 lessons community managers can learn from “Who’s Line is it Anyway”. He says that many improv schools teach three key “guidelines” which is why improvisers know how to:

  • accept and build upon what members of the community say
  • make people in the community look good
  • prepare to be average, and not try to make every comment a home-run

7. Artists

There are a lot of artists who also take on other careers because, well, turns out it’s pretty hard to maintain a steady income as an artist. Most artists are very much a part of their local art community as well. So your interest should be piqued when you’re interviewing someone for a CM role and you find out they’re an artist, since they know how to:

  • use figures or images to tell a story
  • take whatever minimal amount of tools they have access and achieve the goal
  • accommodate and integrate the different styles of community members
  • give and take feedback and apply it to their work

8. Travelers

The world is filled with a lot of different kinds of people. Every country seems to have its own life lesson to offer. Traveling the world not only teaches someone a lot about people, but it also teaches them a lot about themselves. That’s why world travelers make for good community managers, and know how to:

  • accommodate different cultures and lifestyles within a community
  • quickly overcome surprising obstacles
  • how to break the ice with new people they meet
  • coordination and planning with other people

9. Teachers

Community is all about a group of people coming together to help each other. Teachers do what they do because they want to help others. They want to educate the youth and build them into better individuals. That’s exactly the attitude you want in a community manager. Teachers know how to:

  • speak to an audience
  • make people feel good about themselves
  • encourage people to work together
  • share new ideas and concepts clearly

10. Your turn

What other areas of interest can you find amazing community managers?


Photo cred:  Thomas Hawk via Compfight 

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About the author

David Spinks, CMXSummit and Lifelong student, community builder and writer.

Marg Online
Marg Online

All the people at the above mentioned profession are more great and perform their task more effectively. It is their inner strength and perseverance that makes them to move forward. Hats Off to you all!!


The games industry is chock full of CMs. There have been CMs running communities for video games, back before there was even a title for it. I consider myself a newbie and I've been working in Community since 2007. Many of my mentors have been CMs for 10-15 years. 

Alas, we're not taking seriously in many other industries because well, it's video games. It's a viable industry with some amazing talent. We get to develop relationships like almost no other industry, as we're as invested into our love of games and gaming like our players. Many of us were hired right out of game communities (like me). I actually did a talk on this very subject at the Community Manager Conference in Leipzig, Germany. There are heaps of us out there, and for the most part, we're all quite aware of each other. :) Best networking folks around. 


Great article! I loved seeing bar tending listed at the top, as I used to be a bartender in college and couldn't agree more it has taught me some valuable lessons carried over into community management.

Carol Voss
Carol Voss

Agree viivanova! How about nonprofits?  Care deeply about their work, customer service oriented, warm, community builders. As long as digitally native or uber users, they could be amazing (if I do say so myself :)


Totally agree with the comment below - non -profit professionals deal with diverse groups of people and have to appropriate different tone and voice with different stakeholders. Also they are great multi-taskers, since non profit jobs usually entail like 5 different jobs in one! 


Community Organizers and people who have worked in non-profit settings, such as social workers or case managers. Community organizers do this type of work, they know how to engage with people of diverse backgrounds, spot out people's/user's strengths and bring them to the forefront to that everyone feels engaged and apart of the larger goals. Community organizers are managing efforts within a specific group of people or specific geographic boundary, which is directly applicable for the virtual world. They are used to having to operate with minimal resources and keeping all parties on the same page. Transparency is a huge part of the job, and having consistent communication for all is imperative. 


I was a criminal defense attorney for 12 years for the city of Philadelphia.  Talk about being used to dealing with unhappy people!