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March 25, 2021

We Asked Community Leaders What Their First Step as a New Chief Community Officer Would Be

What's the first thing you'd do in a new Chief Community Officer role? It’s a question we put to our community on LinkedIn and Twitter, and naturally, answers varied. Their strategies, however, always started with people — be it teammates, executives, or the community members themselves.

Here's a look at some responses from industry pioneers.

Get the execs invested

For many community builders, executives would be the first port-of-call as a new Chief Community Officer (CCO). The fact that getting executive buy-in was so high up on the agenda comes as no surprise — the C-suite holds the keys to the kingdom, after all.

Having executive support means less time spent trying to explain what you're doing or fighting for resources, and more time for executing successful strategies and initiatives that benefit the organization.

The exec also benefits from a solid relationship with the community team. Quite apart from the value a thriving community would provide, company decision-makers would be able to rely on the CCO to advise on other parts of the business from a community perspective, too.

Holly Firestone, Vice President, Community @ Venafi

Brian Oblinger, Strategic Consultant & host of In Before the Lock podcast

Alex Angel, Chief Community Officer @ Commsor & Community Club

Connect with other managers and teammates, too

It's important for anyone joining a new company in a leadership position to start building relationships and creating trust between teams, but especially so when in a community role.

The reality is that many CCOs will likely find themselves working with people who don't know much about community in a business context. This lack of understanding not only means a frustrating experience when it comes to cross-functional work, but could also lead to missed opportunities for collaboration.

As such, opening those channels of communication is crucial. While this may vary depending on your company and community, relationships with Marketing, Product, and Support are arguably the ones to cultivate first. That means helping the various role-players understand the value of community for their parts of the business, as well as finding out how their teams operate, and what insight and support you could give each other.

Marjorie Anderson, Community Strategist & Founder @ Community By Association

Fernando Jardim, Community Manager & Innovation Specialist @ Made of Lisboa

Mike Silberg, Founding Partner @ IS-CL Network

Community first

Where better to start than the community itself? There will be plenty of leg work for a new CCO to do: uncovering common goals, getting to grips with (or creating) rules of conduct, engaging with the most active members, unearthing past issues, defining/refining the engagement strategy, and so on.

With all that on the (hypothetical) agenda, a community audit would be the first step for many industry leaders who responded to our question.

At the heart of it, a successful CCO needs answers to three questions as soon as possible: 1. What's happening in the community right now? 2. What do we want to see happening? 3. How are we going to get there?

Christina Garnett, Senior Marketing Manager & Community Advocacy @ Hubspot

Max Rothery VP of Community @ Finimize

What would be your first step as a newly minted Chief Community Officer? Join the conversation on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Kirsti Lang
March 25, 2021

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