[Consultant] Meet Kathy Ulrich

people
introductions

(Kathleen Ulrich) #1

Do you currently manage a community?
I am an association person so I have membership software. I used to have an additional platform dedicated to discussion, but now I use the forum software bundled with the membership software. I have 35 active forums - all member only - 20 are private and 15 are general. I have a LinkedIn discussion group for non-members and ease of access for members who frequent LinkedIn. For our organization, the private groups are where it’s at - very active and providing a lot of value. I think the general discussion areas could provide a much better resource for the membership than currently.


What career path brought you to where you are now?
I had a management degree out of school so my fist jobs were in management. I had about 80 people reporting directly to me while I was still in my mid-twenties and then got my own account, which historically had lost money for the Corp. I turned it in to a money maker and found it completely soul-crushing, so I quit and became a teacher. Then life changed and I needed more flexibility and money, so I went into consulting. In that role, I suggested a membership association for the industry I was involved with and here I am! I fulfil the role of exec director, but I am contracted by retainer as a consultant.


What is the biggest challenge you face in your job?
Well, I could say limited resources, but I will try to answer seriously and make my answer a bit more personal. My biggest challenge is maintaining the enthusiasm I have for connecting with and empathizing with others.


What’s the best job you ever had that wasn’t in community management and does it inform your CM work in any way?
Bartending? Actually, it’s teaching. While teaching, I got very involved in Community organizing for the neighborhood school. I brought together kids, parents, administration, law enforcement, merchants and artists. I think working together with people with such diverse motivations, on common goals, had a very powerful impact on my belief in the possibilities that exist when people communicate and collaborate.


(Nick Emmett) #2

Great to read your experiences @Kathy, thanks for sharing.

What sort of value are people getting from coming to your various forums?
Do you have a difference in value that you see between your forums and LinkedIn groups?
Do you actively try to redirect people in to the forums?

this is interesting - what do you mean by General areas and what sort of value do you think that they COULD bring?[quote=“HAWK, post:1, topic:5391”]
I brought together kids, parents, administration, law enforcement, merchants and artists. I think working together with people with such diverse motivations, on common goals, had a very powerful impact on my belief in the possibilities that exist when people communicate and collaborate.
[/quote]

This. Connecting people is such an important part of why I do what I do.

Thanks again for sharing, I love reading these features.


(Kathleen Ulrich) #3

Hi, oh boy, I didn’t expect questions! So @Nick_Emmett Question 1. We are a content oriented association, so the private forums are devoted to a particular topic – for example, we have one trying to come up with consistent ways to evaluate new industry tools, We have several devoted to developing industry reference models. People start with looking for others interested in their topic in forums that are open to all members, then move to a staging zone where they try to recruit members to join their private forum and anyone can vote on their topic. If successful with the staging zone, they get a private forum where they brainstorm ideas. Usually, they then move to screensharing meetings, but continue to post documents for review in the forums. Eventually, they create a pdf or post to inform all members of their activity. Many of them also provide webinars. Challenges, as you can imagine, but overall a huge success.

Question 2-- no comparison. The level of sophisticated discussion that takes place in private forums compared to LinkedIn is astounding - exceptions occur.

Question 3 - Yes I have recruited members off LinkedIn, when they post something of interest that demonstrates a passion for our industry, or when they are being bullied or bullying, which I see frequently on LinkedIn. I directly message them. I’ve got a couple of great success stories – or good gets, as some say. I get a lot of emails too, and often direct those people to the forums.

General discussions areas @HAWK. I don’t have as much activity here and it’s not that people have nothing to say. We started out when our industry was very young and many of our earliest members grew with us – we went from attempting to collect best practices to providing leading edge practices and integrating with other fields. So now many older members have a wealth of knowledge to share and our newest members don’t have that background and have a lot of hesitation about how to adopt our emerging field. So these 2 groups should talk, right? I think we have more or less mitigated the tendency for people to want to keep their knowledge exclusive to their own circle, but they also aren’t in the habit of sharing it. There is where persuasion strategy and Strategic Community Management comes in for me. Hmmm, there is a course on that somewhere - :slight_smile: