Community Manager musings: advice for careers in community management from #TheCRConnect

Community manager musings is a series of occasional posts looking at the roles and skills of community managers – usually within science. 

This week I attended the Community Roundtable’s annual event, TheCR Connect. On Monday afternoon there was a great panel discussion about community management careers featuring Kristen Laaspere of Akamai, JJ Lovett of CA Technologies and Luke Sinclair of AMEX. Here are some of the key takeaways. (Any mistakes in transcription/interpretation are mine!)

Your network is the key to your next role

  • Invest time in building your professional network as that’s usually the best way to find your next role. As well as cultivating a profile on a site such as LinkedIn, this might include asking questions at conferences, and showing others in your area that you’re interested in particular topics.

Be vocal and visible

  • Make sure you fight for training and other opportunities.

Avoiding burnout

  • Make sure you stay fresh by keeping up outside interests and taking down time in the evenings and at weekends.
  • This helps you to make good strategic decisions rather than getting drawn into reactive fighting to defend your role and value.

Explaining your role

  • What do you do when HR doesn’t know what you do? Look for similar jobs in other organisations and use these job descriptions to talk about your role.

How to grow your team?

  • Identify and articulate your community ROI to justify additions to the team.
  • Fight for progression in your role title – sometimes this can make the difference as to whether you’ll be at the right level to manage others, should the opportunity to recruit arise.
  • You need to take ownership of your career progression – don’t expect someone else to do it for you.

Being a manager

Moving “across” rather than away

  • Some organisations create strong staff loyalty and people will move internally and stay around for many years. You can see that as one way to get community values embedded more broadly within the organisation.

When’s the right time to move on?

  • “The key to career progression is to know the difference between road bumps and road blocks.”
  • Keep pushing your skills boundaries – when you stop growing it’s time to move on.
  • You’re likely to lose more junior members of your team if you’re unable to keep growing their role. They may get stuck in the weeds of the tactics of running the community every day rather than the strategy. Try to give them ownership over programs.


What are your top tips for a successful career in community management? Was there a piece of advice that dramatically changed how you think about your role or your career?



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