Got a question for an experienced community pro? We can help!
Every month, we’ll be putting your burning questions to the incredible community industry leaders we have in The Community Club.
This month’s question comes from a Club member who wants to pivot their career into community management.
“I don't have a formal community background, how can I demonstrate potential for a community role?
Additionally, what are some transferable skills that might come in handy while training for a community role?” — Club member
The Community Manager at Clari weighs in.
“Let’s face it, being in the community industry is the New Big Thing in technology companies.
Organizations are seeing the business ROI that comes from community efforts and are now wanting one of their own. They’re beginning to build teams that usually start with one Community Manager and grow to include moderators, engagement specialists, marketers, designers, and content teams.
If you ask almost anyone in a CM role what their first job was, it will most likely not be in a traditional community capacity.
For example, many of us came from sales. We started our careers selling specific products like software and made the transition to community through some pretty wild turns. Others made their transition into community from marketing roles such as customer marketing or demand gen marketing. Some even came from product or customer success.
These roles have many transferable skills that can be valuable for a CM to have. Let’s look into how sales, marketing, product, and customer success roles can evolve into community management.
Community and sales may seem to be opposing departments, but you’d be surprised to learn of all they share in common.
When you’re speaking with a prospect and taking them through the buyer's journey, you’re building a relationship because you’re listening to their needs and helping to solve their problems.
This is one of the most pivotal aspects of community. Being able to really listen to your members, create a safe space for providing feedback, and help them solve their problems is key to running a successful community.
Marketing and community not only work well together, but making the pivot from one to the other is much easier than in most industries.
One of the most transferable skills from being in marketing is the ability to understand your customers. If you’re in growth marketing, you’re already spending time with customers and learning about how they use your product. If you’re in demand gen marketing, you’re providing enticing information that gets prospective buyers thinking about how you can provide a solution.
Regardless of the specific emphasis in your role, you’re all about starting a conversation and keeping that discussion going. This is a huge part of building and maintaining a successful community. Sometimes we have to seed conversations in the community to start discussions when things are slow, so being able to know and understand what your members want is important.
When you sit within the product side of your organization, you can directly influence how your product is being built. You can plan beta groups, where your customers get to test new features and provide feedback, and create training around how to use specific features best.
Within a community, these skills can be used in organization and community programs. In product, you’ve had to stay organized when building customer beta groups or launching a new feature. The groups that you’ve planned, well, they’re just like community roundtables, councils, and more. You already know how to plan and get feedback — which is often the hardest part — so you can recreate that in a community context.
Ah, customer success. Let’s face it, in this department, much of your time is spent dealing directly with the customer post-sale. You spend time doing product implementation, working through onboarding, connecting customers with other customers to learn from, and much more.
These skills are often the cornerstone of a good community. Through all of what you do, you are building processes, implementing strategies, and making revisions where needed. Even more of a plus is that, because you deal with customers immediately post-sale to (oftentimes) renewal, you get to talk with them about what really matters and can share training and other resources for them to get involved in.
Making a career transition can be scary and challenging. With job postings now requiring so much for beginner roles, it can be difficult to show how you’ve accomplished those tasks without having the title that fits them. When you sit down and really consider what you’ve accomplished, it’s surprising how closely related your day-to-day activities are to what someone in a community role deals with.”