Advice to an aspiring Community Manager

I received an email from a graduate the other day asking for advice:

Q: I’m a recent graduate and I’m doing research for an upcoming job interview. The job role is for an online community specialist. I would really appreciate any interview advice you could give me for this role.

A: I suggest the way to impress is by leading a social media life. Using lots and lots of networks and understanding forums and communities is essential and moving beyond the usual suspects that “everyone” uses makes sense. If I was interviewing you, I’d Google you first to see what you’ve been doing. If I couldn’t find you at all on the web, I’d be miffed.

Here are some suggestions:

Absolutely have a great LinkedIN profile. Get all the bells and whistles going on there and use it as a hub for other things you’re doing online. Start to Twitter to.

Can you get up and running as a blogger? WordPress is easy to get started with and Tumblr is even easier. I don’t think it really matters what you blog about as long as you show your talents off and come across as dynamic and willing to have a go.

Start using some of the less well-known social media and online community sites out there. Live it., for instance, if you’re a muso. Review things on Yelp or Qype. There are squillions to choose from. I think to be convincing as a candidate that being active on 5 sites is a fair minimum.

Also, examine different online communities out there. Don’t concentrate on what’s cool and trendy. Remember that one of the biggest online communities in Britain is SocMed people may sneer, but ask yourself what Martin Lewis is doing right. He has an amazing community there.

Also, can you manage a community yourself if you aren’t already? LinkedIn allows you to build groups and also sites such as Yahoo help you build your own online community. That would give you practical experience and, I think, make you a stronger candidate. I certainly wouldn’t hire someone who hadn’t been proactive in taking on an online community in some way. If you take photographs, try Flickr and start a group.

And try and keep abreast on what’s new. There are also loads of brilliant people out there to follow and learn from. As a first start I’d suggest Blaise Grime-Viort’s blog and Twitter stream.

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