Being A Community Professional In 2019

Also, Ian and I spent three fabulous days in San Francisco.

I was in San Francisco last week to attend the CMX Summit an annual conference for community management professionals. This event is an exciting opportunity to attend panels with leading voices in the industry, learn new strategies, listen to case studies, and optimize your craft. Simultaneously it’s a fantastic opportunity to connect with peers who face the same challenges or have overcome them and can share tips. CMX is one of the best support organizations for community managers in the industry. Many times we work solo or in small teams (3 – 4) so having a professional organization that is dedicated to our craft is incredibly helpful as a resource.  That is one of the many reasons why I am a CMX Pro member.

This year going in to the conference I wanted to look for support and information around the hurdles I am facing at my current organization. The two that I’ve identified as “strategy breaking” (meaning I’m unable to execute an effective community strategy without overcoming them) are aligning the community to business goals and winning executive support to prioritize community development efforts. While I absorbed LOTS of information around these two items, and participated in several discussions with other professionals who have felt this pain in their roles, the ultimate route others took to overcome these two things was budget. Budget being the one thing I’ve fought for this year and haven’t been able to get due to changing executive priorities and organizational consolidation. Budget would allow me to a) hire the resources I need to b) develop an effective platform on Salesforce Customer Community that aligns with business goals. 

The experience with my current organization has taught me that you can have the best community tools at your disposal but without executive alignment you will be doomed to fail the moment a resource or priority conflict arises within the organization. Community can be isolated and vulnerable to executive shifts and changes. Even with a leadership environment that insulates and protects community there is only so long you can make it before the winds of change WILL inflate the sails potentially leaving you without a dock to weather the storm in.

I’ve been promoted to a role in content strategy which allows me the opportunity to  develop new skills in the content realm which are complementary to my work in community. As much as I enjoy what I do in my current role – my heart belongs to community. I am actively looking for my next opportunity and seem to be entering an interesting phase of my career. I’ve accumulated extensive experience, I’ve been honored to work with amazing companies, and the opportunities I’ve had I am humbled and incredibly grateful for.

As a candidate you feel like this is all building a case for what you can bring to an organization who has a gap they would like to fill with someone who has a community background. However, the feedback I’ve received after being a finalist for several positions is that I am “too senior” for the role. This may be a combination of the experience on my resume and that I don’t hide the fact I am looking to move to an organization who a) wants someone to lead an award winning community program and b) wants someone who has the desire to move up the leadership ladder. 

The concern that stems from this discovery during my search for a new opportunity is that companies are relying on junior candidates to support their community efforts. This isn’t a negative when that person is working on day to day administration or is super self motivated to seek out support and answers. However, when you consider the business impacts that are involved – platform & project management, stakeholder expectation management, executive influence, budget, ALL the strategic work that community entails – there is concern that companies still in 2019 don’t quite understand the importance … and VALUE… of senior leaders for their community efforts.

Yes, we as community professionals are making inroads in our field. There is a burgeoning awareness of what we do. However this field is still nascent and there continues to be a need for education to ensure that organizations understand the value of our talent. This can be emotionally exhausting especially when it’s happening during a job search but it’s important work that has to be done to help set the stage for those who come into this field after us.

If you’re interested in learning more about why this is a concern please take the time to read the 2019 State of Community report. The SOCM report is compiled by dedicated research team at The Community Roundtable.

Late to the party

Screenshot courtesy my BFF, Saidir.

I picked up No Man’s Sky a couple of weeks ago and oh em gee have I been having fun. The game does a wonderful job encapsulating a limitless feeling of adventure and exploration. I’ve been happily wandering through the galaxy with my bestie, Saidir.

So far, my favorite activities to do in the game are:

  1. Speak to any NPC I come across to learn as much of the languages as I can
  2. Find every buried tech and knowledge stone on my visor 😀
  3. Work through the main campaign, the Artemis storyline

I am playing on PC but I use a controller to play as I just find the keyboard controls tedious compared to console. I even ordered a new, customized Scuf controller just for my NMS sessions!

Are you playing NMS? What are your favorite things to do in the game?

On the topic of doing what you love

I’ve been exploring the job market recently for senior positions available in the community space. I love my job, however, it doesn’t hurt to keep an eye out for exciting opportunities. There are quite a few in the community space available which is super exciting. Not just for me but for the industry as a whole and those who choose to specialize in community work as a profession.

I’ve had the pleasure to have a few conversations with brands I personally admire, some I’ve grown up with. A couple of times those conversations have turned into fulfilling years of my life working alongside them. I absolutely appreciate the years of professional development it’s taken to get the point I could have those conversations and opportunities.

There is one insight that changed the entire trajectory of my career, opening the door to those opportunities.

Whatever it is you love, or is special to you, make it a core to who you are, fully embrace it. If it’s something you can incorporate into your profession, focus on it and build strengths around it.

Me

Hey, I get it. I remember the days of receiving this advice and thinking how UNHELPFUL it was because how tf do I know what I want to do? It’s okay, when someone shares this tidbit with you we’re not asking you to plan out the next 10 years of your career. Knowing you make awesome drinks all of your friends feel special when you have a party and you love discovering new mixology recipes, it’s a part of your identity! Embracing your inner mixologist can provide you with the framework for development areas opportunities you can take to hone your skills. Or if it’s not something you want to make a profession out of then it can just be a great party favor you bust out every now and then.

Welcome back, Monday!

I took a break from #Blaugust over the weekend from Friday – Sunday. After flying out to SoCal to visit a potential new work opportunity I just needed the downtime to recoup energy and motivation. Also, seeing it’s also “Get to know you” week what better way to kick off my return to blogging with responses to Naithan’s ‘Real Neat Blog Award‘ nomination!

What hobbies or interests do you have that you might not regularly include on your blog? 

I put many of my hobbies on pause for the last 2 years while I’ve focused on pursuing my career and education. However, I am an avid collector of Asian Ball Jointed Dolls (primarily Fairyland). I also an avid con-goer, traveling for nerd conventions across the country.

Are you learning any skills at the moment? If not, what would you like to learn?

Right now I am working on a business degree online at Community College of Denver! I am also honing skills in content strategy with a laser focus on consumers and SEO. Soon, I’ll also be working on a Salesforce certification. I think my plate is quite full on that front for the remainder of the year.

If you were invited on a one-way trip to Mars to establish a new colony, would you go?

Absolutely! I am a huge fan of space and space colonization. While I am sure it would be a very difficult endeavor the impact it would have on our ability relieve the Earth of our burden would be an opportunity I couldn’t pass up.

What is the one thing that you most want readers to come away from your blog with? A feeling, thought, or understanding.

This is a tough one because, for the most part, my blog is pretty personal. I think if there were something I would readers to come away with is that this is a safe place to talk about what’s important to them and know that they’re not alone. I know what struggling with adversity and mental illness is like. I work everyday to overcome anxiety and depression while creating the best work I can. You can do it, I believe in you and I’m here for you if you need to talk.

What excites you most about having a blog?

The ability to develop my writing and to have a place where, when I am ready, I can share my opinion on the things that are important to me. I don’t write about alot of the things I feel strongly about because the simple emotional energy it takes to create those pieces is better invested in work that matters. I would like to learn though this blog that my opinion DOES matter and I can write it without it taking up precious energy simply by becoming more comfortable with expressing myself through this medium.

If you could make one thing from a book, TV show or movie real, and in your possession, what would it be?

The watch Cooper gives to Murphy before he leaves on the mission to go through the wormhole in Interstellar.

They say everyone has at least one book in them — if you were to write a book, what would it be about?

I have the first paragraph for a book I’m really interested in writing saved in my google docs for like 6 years. It would be about a robotics engineer on a space station that ends up in an interstellar escapade to save the universe.

Tired AF

This was just as good as it looks. 💖

Did you really think I was going to break the streak I’m on with #Blaugust ? Heck no! This one will be extremely brief though. I’m finally back home in Denver after flying to SoCal for a on-site with a brand I admire for a very cool role. The area was gorgeous and the campus is stunning. Tons of amenities and benefits for the people who work on site. We shall see what happens!

The lovely Naithan over at Time To Loot tagged me and a few others in on the Real Neat Blog Award. I’ll be writing my submission of 7 answers in tomorrow’s blog. See you soon!

If you like to listen to podcasts, this ones for you.

New podcast alert! I like to listen to either the interstellar soundtrack or this awesome podcast ‘Tracks to relax’. There’s a new podcast I’ve been listening to while winding down before sleep ‘Meditative story’. It mixes a personal story narrated by the author and every few minutes the host will have a mindfulness related prompt for you to consider as you absorb the story. It’s very calming and nice to fall asleep to.

I’ll add links once I’m back home from my overnight trip to San Diego!

On not belonging

San Diego Zoo

Events happen in our childhood – these events, along with genetics, can shape who we might become as adults. There is always latitude for us to develop in different ways, those events or experiences don’t define us. Some of the experiences I had growing up left deep scars on my psyche. The sum of which leave me occasionally (about once a month) feeling a deep sense of discomfort with who I am. This feeling is very difficult to explain, the best I can do to describe is much like impostor syndrome. That feeling that you just don’t belong to/in the circumstances around you. Maybe disassociation?

Even with the knowledge and confidence in the moment that this is MY life – not allowing this feeling (in the moment, when it happens) to have ownership or give it any legitimacy – still it takes some time, usually hours, to work through reaffirmations that I am who I am. I am proud of who I am. I’ve worked hard to become the person I am with the responsibilities I have. When I have this feeling come on I share it with Ian. He’s very understanding and helpful when I’m processing through the emotions.

This mood tends to happen around major events or decisions in my life. For example, before we flew out to start our vacation in Hawaii earlier this year. Tomorrow I depart to Southern California for a final round of interviews. It’s an opportunity I am very excited to learn more about and am honored to be a candidate for. If I were selected it would mean major upheaval, not in a chaotic negative manner, in that we would need to relocate and leave the beautiful home we just built. We are not adverse to this in fact we’re excited about the potential. With this turbulence though it leaves the smallest crack for those scars to get through – and that’s all it needs.

It will be okay, tomorrow will come and I will have the opportunity to shine. Scars don’t define you.

Blaugust & Community

I’ve really been enjoying the Blaugust event so far, not because of my own writing, but because of how great this community has proven itself to be. Even this early on its been a pleasure to be involved. Reading blogs, posting comment replies, and while it’s not something I’ve done just yet the event has had people exchanging blog posts on the topic of raid mechanics.

As a blogging newbie this round these past few days of activity have opened my eyes to the community aspect of blogging. It’s especially nice to see all the different types of gamers represented in the event. I even saw a blogger who is involved in second life, I’ve always felt so alone in my interest in SL. I’ve had a avatar for the past ten years, logging in to update her outfit and decorate the house I keep.

I’m hoping I’ll find the thread that will tie this all together for me. Find out what my niche will be. It all still feels very up in the air right now but I am holding confidence that I’ll find a rhythm to fall into at some point this month. In the meantime here’s the latest list of participants, click a random link and discover someone new (to you!).

Equilibrium

I can feel my equilibrium returning just in time for the work week. I cooked twice today! We woke up super late so I made breakfast for lunch, eggs and hash browns. Then this evening I made cheese enchiladas with chili gravy, one of the all time favorites recipes I’ve discovered on the NYTimes Cooking section.

Ian surprised me by making pinto beans in the instant pot as a side. This was a surprise because he actually sort of scared of the instant pot (the whole pressure, can explode thing) and avoids it all cost. However, I was busy frying the tortillas and he stepped up to get the beans sorted so that timing wise we wouldn’t have to wait on them. Since we didn’t have any bacon or ham hock on hand, he pulled out the remaining pork butt he had smoked and we threw that in the beans. It came out pretty dang good! GJ, Ian!

This week will be very interesting, I’m flying out Wednesday afternoon for a final with a brand I’ve grown up with. It’s a very exciting opportunity and I plan on spending the first half of the week prepping for meetings on Thursday with them.

I did a few gearing dungeons on the Paladin today, including a Mechagnon run! I happened to be in the right place at the right time in guild chat. That run would have been impossible with a pug at my ilvl. Unfortunately I didn’t move the needle much on the ilvl, we’re just up to 403, but maybe I will get lucky on rolls and have something titanforge.