A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a similar post, but from the opposite side: Hiring a Community Manager. This week, I’ve received emails from several people asking about how they can become an online community manager. I thought it would be a good idea to write this post for people who want to be hired into their first community manager job.
Start by reading the Hiring a Community Manager post. It has many links to blogs about online community management, the role of the community manager, community research, job boards focused on community manager positions, and much more. It will also give you insight into the thinking that employers might be doing when selecting a community manager.
There are a few things that you can do to build your expertise in community management to improve your chances of getting hired. They fall into 3 main areas.
- Participate. You can build a lot of expertise by participating in existing online communities as a user. Find something that you are passionate about (restaurant reviews, happy hours, guitars, underwater basket weaving, whatever), and find a community of people with similar passions. Participate in a couple of these communities, and post regularly. Use the experience as a member to see what works well and what doesn’t, and think about how you would make the community better if you were responsible for it.
- Share Knowledge. Take what you have learned and share it with other people. Start a blog that is focused on community management, and share what you are learning. Do research on other communities and blog about what you find. If you want to expand out past writing, you could do video / audio podcasts or other various methods to communicate about what you have learned. When you begin interviewing for community manager jobs, you will have a nice base of information to share with prospective employers, and the blog should have a prominent place on your resume.
- Volunteer. Help a local non profit organization build an online community and be the community manager for that new community. This could be an online community of volunteers or an online community related to the purpose of the organization. Nothing demonstrates your abilities as a community manager better than a working example that prospective employees can see in action.
I’ve focused on what I think are the 3 most important things you can do to build your community management skills. Jake McKee has a couple of good posts on this topic as well with a few more ideas, including sample courses for college students to take:
- How do I become a Community Manager? (College Students)
- How do I become a Community Manager? (Working Pro)
I know that quite a few community managers read this blog. What do you think? Is there something more important than these three things for someone wanting to break into the field? What would you suggest?