Monday, March 29, 2010

Five Desirable Traits in a Community Manager

Looking back at my time as a community manager got me thinking about how not everyone is cut out for the job. That's not self-flattery; I feel some people's personalities would have trouble adjusting to the highly social and sometimes volatile nature of it. That got me thinking about what personality traits I see are important for a good community manager:

Detail Oriented. One of the hazards of one-to-one communication is that as the number of 'touch points' between community manager and community members increases, it's possible to lose sight of the details. Whether it be getting back to someone, staying on top of product news, or relating community information back to the company, a community manager's job requires a lot of organization and discipline to stay on top of things. This especially holds true for all customer-facing issues. Conscientiousness is, as they say, key.

Active Listener. Active listening is good for more than spoken communications. In real or near to real-time text environments, taking the time to ask questions of community members clarifies their input and further involves them in the conversation. Some people are shocked they get the attention. Others revel in it. While remaining professionally distant is important, set a friendly tone where opinions matter and are shared openly.

Humility. Community management is not the place for a big ego. There will be times, especially at a startup, where you will have to eat your words, usually through no fault of your own. Launch dates slip, broken things don't get fixed, products don't develop as initially planned. Be prepared, and turn to the next point to get you through:

Sense of Humor. Be funny and laugh often. I don't mean be unprofessional. There are limits. But humor will get you through the most trying crisis and your community will laugh with you.

Patience. I cannot stress enough how important patience is. Sometimes people communicate on the Internet like people screaming at each other from the safety of their cars. While some are malicious, most just react based on emotion. Typically community management and customer service face the brunt. While it's sometimes difficult, be patient with each customer and they will eventually appreciate your professionalism.

© Jeremy Buehler and Rogue Tendencies ( 2010.

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