Jocelyn - What has been the biggest difference from working as a strategist at Khoros/Lithium to becoming a consultant on your own?
Doh! I'm so sorry Jocelyn. You submitted the first question and yet I accidentally skipped over it...
Mind if I share 2 major differences? The first one is that my day-to-day is now much more than just strategy work like it was at Khoros. Since I'm the CEO, HR dept, Marketing Dept, Finance Dept, Support Dept (haha I'm ALL THE THINGS), I find my day-to-day being much more about all the roles necessary to run a business. I don't mind though because I'm learning so much along the way! Hopefully, one day, I can build my practice up to have a team working with me to handle all the admin-related work so I can focus on strategy work, and making content (which I love).
The 2nd major difference...and I'll give a heads up that this is a super vulnerable moment here...is the amount of self-doubt that creeps in when you're running your own practice. I've never experienced self-doubt on this level before. There's a lot of questioning myself..."Am I doing this right?" "What if people don't like that content?" "Is this how everyone else does their invoicing?!" But this has been such an integral part of my personal growth to recognize the self-doubt and push past it. (I mentioned this a bit in my response to @Kirsti Buick (Community Club) about how I'm learning to let go of things/thoughts that aren't important to me.) Ultimately, the self-doubt is helpful in that it reminds me to review all my work, but I don't need to dwell on it because I know deep down that I'm on the right path! (and I'm grateful for my clients, family, and friends that reassure me of this)
Kirsti - I’d love to know more about the self-care techniques and boundary-setting strategies you wish you’d known about in your earlier career. What are your go-to tips in this regard?
I wish I had found meditation and breathwork earlier. It's a gamechanger when I'm in a certain mood and I need to get out of that mood to get focused again. Breathwork is particularly great because I can be as forceful with it as I want. There's tons of great videos on this on Youtube. I like the Wim Hof stuff. And one area of self-care I'm still working on is letting stuff go of what doesn't serve me. <Cue "Let it go" from Frozen haha> Sometimes it's hard and I dwell on things, but I need to take Ted Lasso's advice and be a goldfish!
Max - Jenny, if you could offer someone one piece of advice who is just starting out in a Community Manager role, what would that be?
GREAT question. I would tell the person to "Spend more time listening than talking." And that pertains to communication with members as well as colleagues. I can't recall where I first heard that advice, but I think it was on a podcast. Overall, I don't think we do enough listening to others in life, and it's something I'm working on trying to improve for myself.
Katelyn - Out of the ~100 brands you worked with over at Lithium Technologies (Khoros), is there a particular moment or project that stands out to you? If so, what made that particular project/moment exciting or challenging and what did you learn from it?
Ahhh Katelyn now you have me racking my brain over all the strategy projects I've worked on and it's hard to decide! OK 2 brands are coming to mind...Samsung and Sephora. For Samsung, I helped them expand their community to 18 new countries (they already had a strong presence in EMEA and the US). Our contacts were people who worked at Samsung's HQ in South Korea, and I even had the pleasure of getting to take a trip there. It was rewarding on so many levels, and Samsung had many exhilarating ideas for their members so it was a lot of fun to work on! For Sephora, I was lucky to be their Khoros Strategist for a few years, but the last project I completed with them was establishing their Ambassador Program. The collaboration and conversations in doing so were always exciting and innovative! Their community team is quite visionary!
Willa - When you think about the companies you work with, does anything stand out in terms of what makes community succeed within their org as you work with them?
Hi Willa! Most definitely...what is truly a differentiator is: Leadership who believes in the power of community. When the executive leadership is on board, and supportive of community efforts through budget, time, resources, I've seen the most incredibly things happen for a community and it's users. The big brands that always get talked about for their successful communities (Sephora, Airbnb, Intuit, etc)...it's because their leadership believes in making the investment in community.
Cole - After working with so many different companies, what are your go-to community-building tools?
Hi Cole! I'll start with a few that are top of mind but I have a feeling I'll be coming back to this thread and adding more as I think of them. First off, MURAL is essential. I didn't start using it till covid happened and then i was like "where have you been all my life."
Another tool I love is called Loom. You can send quick videos very easily, and sometimes I prefer to send a message to a client via video than email or text. I've told some clients how I use it and they've mentioned that they might use it too for quick video messages to their community members.
another one...perhaps more of a resource than a tool...is the community for your platform provider. Each major platform provider has a community with a wealth of info, and I think community professionals get so busy that they forget that tons of answers and help are available in those communities. (Ironic, right?!)
Google Drive..I use it to the max to organize all my files and my many many many spreadsheets
This tool/app: https://hemingwayapp.com/. I use it as an editor when writing out my content and longer communications.
Canva Pro. This is ESSENTIAL for imagery or graphics.
I'm rattling off a lot of the tools I use, but since my clients are the ones actually running their communities, I know they are using many other tools, like...
- Google Analytics or an analytics provider
- Tableau dashboards
- Trello for project management
- Notion (LOTS of clients are picking this up as a resource lately, and I actually just started on it too)
- Zoom account (shocker, I know)
- Let's not forget some kind of email provider/system since most community platforms don't include a custom email system
Tiffany - What’s one example you’d give to reduce the number of tools needed for community professionals to do their job?
Hey Tiffany! I've made this suggestion to clients in the past, and for the ones who did it, they said it was a great team-building exercise...Once a year, hold a community team "Spring Cleaning" meeting. Now, there are a number of things that get discussed during that meeting like which posts from the last year are going to be archived, but one of the main topics should be going through the list of community tools. As you go through each one, have the team share the top 3 benefits of each one, and the top 3 challenges with each. (If they can't give more than one benefit for a tool, that's a sign it may need to be on the chopping block.) This is also a great activity because there are some tools that one person on the team might use and no one else does, so everyone learns about what is most helpful to one another. Then, there's a discussion around the tools that are not providing the most benefits, or the tools that are the most challenging to work with, and a brainstorm then occurs to see if any those challenges can be made up by the functionality in other current tools. In the end, there are usually a few tools that get cut, and a few more that are more heavily adopted because people learned about new functionality that they weren't aware of.