I just had a great call with a community member (who can name themselves but I won’t do it on their behalf) to talk about career paths and reputation building. They wanted my advice, but I found it really valuable because it’s not something that I’ve actively thought about before and it helped me to clarify my thinking.
I thought I’d note down some of the things that came out of the call, in case they’re valuable for others.
- Community can be a job or a career. It’s relatively new and we’re forging the way. That’s a powerful position to be in, but also a tenuous one.
- Find your niche. Mine is community technology – platforms, migrations and UX. I didn’t plan it, but I’ve run with it and I make sure I keep challenging myself so that I stay on top of my game.
- Build your reputation by talking about the topic widely so that when people have a question you are the first person they think of and tag in. It becomes self perpetuating.
- Reputation building isn’t necessarily about blogging or public speaking. Get your knowledge out where your audience are asking questions. That’s probably meet-ups, communities and social networks.
- You don’t always have to give definitive advice. Every community is different and what works for one might not work for another. You can share things that didn’t work or ideas that you haven’t tried. Sometimes people just need a spring board for their own ideas.
- Frameworks are great (@richard_millington taught me that). When people are confronted with something that they’ve never done before, having a framework can act like a safety net.
- Community isn’t maths. There is real science behind it, but there’s also people. Things don’t always go the same way. Try new things. Push the envelope. Pivot when things go wrong. Be human.
- Never speak in a NZ accent. Most people can’t understand and the ones that can, laugh.
Do you guys have tips or thoughts of your own to add?