3 Tips to Protect Your Community Career

March 31, 2016 — by Vanessa Penagos-Pino2



3 Tips to Protect Your Community Career

March 31, 2016 — by Vanessa Penagos-Pino2

3 Tips to Protect Your Community Career“We’re going to have to let you go.”

Whether you’re on the receiving end of these words, or you’re the individual to say them to a team member, it’s a position we’d hope to not find ourselves in. In my own personal experience, several years ago I was let go from a start-up and I quickly learned layoffs can be inevitable, whether an organization is involved in an acquisition or leadership makes the decision to shift business strategies. As a result, having a proactive approach to your career can be of great help should you find yourself in a position of losing your job.  During the March 25th #CMGRHangout, Sherrie Rohde and Jonathan Brewer were joined by panelists Stuart Bankey and Josh Simmons to discuss the various actions community managers can take to shape one’s career path.

There were many tips shared by the panel, and below are a few proactive steps which can be applied at any point during one’s community career.

  1. Prove your value early on and often. Depending on your organization, community management may be essential to the business, or it could be a “nice to have” add-on. Regardless, helping to tie your contributions back to business objectives is an effective step in showing leadership the value you/your team bring to the organization. In addition, expanding your skillset and volunteering for projects can be another step toward highlighting your value, as well as initiative.  Personally, I enjoyed Jonathan’s comment about community managers being lifelong learners and in many cases, a “Jack of all trades”. When you’re not confined to a single role or responsibility, displaying initiative can potentially create an opportunity for discussions around departmental transitioning as opposed to losing one’s job altogether.
  2. Keep an eye out for opportunities. The best time to look for a job is when you’re not actively looking. Sherrie shared her own experience and highlighted that not only is the process less stressful, but it also provides valuable opportunities to practice your applying and interviewing skills. As for resources available to community managers looking to make a career transition, some of the panel’s favorites include:
    • Community Roundtable Job Board
    • CMX Job Board
    • If you’re open to relocation, research areas where community hubs are prevalent. For instance, regions such as San Francisco, Austin, or Boston can be helpful starting points in targeting prospective jobs.
  3. Network with other community managers. Engaging in professional networking can provide limitless value to one’s career, whether via online groups, local meet-ups, or industry conferences. Plus, it’s always fun to “geek out” with other like-minded individuals. This can be especially true for organizations which may only have one dedicated community manager. Developing connections and relationships with other community professionals can provide expert insight as well as mentoring opportunities.  A recap of the panel’s favorite networking resources include:

Experiencing a lay-off can be an emotional rollercoaster, and for many community managers, it’s easy to eat, sleep, and breathe one’s job responsibilities. As a result, losing one’s job without warning, as Josh did, can be blindsiding.  So how does one work through such an experience?  Josh shared that time spent with friends and family was important. Additionally, self-care and allowing time to regain perspective was also valuable.

Another topic discussed is how to best support someone we may (or may not know) who lost their job. Offering job opportunities can certainly be helpful, but consider simply being there for the individual, whether to be a listening ear or to provide moral support.

It goes without saying that as community managers, we’re all in this together, and in the situation of job loss, this is especially true.

Interested in learning more about navigating your community career? Click below to watch the #CMGRHangout recap.

Vanessa Penagos-Pino

Content & Inbound Marketing Director at 1-800-PetMeds
Vanessa is an enthusiast of all things tech, marketing, art, and 8-bit related. Her role at 1-800-PetMeds provides the opportunity to combine her love of pets with over 10 years of digital marketing experience. She is a perpetual learner fueled by a growth mindset and creative expression ─ cold brew coffee also helps.
  • nikschen

    Hi guys,

    super important topic and I agree with many things said during this call. I just had the same experience, due to a merger, I was let go from a major IT company as their Community Manager ( along with  many other CM’s). While people who were involved in the community activity saw clearly the benefit of our work, the decision makers of laying us all off, was made by people who chose not to want to know about our work. Promoting yourself and your work wth the community (and your achievements) is important but you might find people who just don’t want to get onboard and you can’t do anything about them. Staying positive and finding a new company that values Communities is your only way to succeed going forward.

    I also struggle with the fact that sometimes the goal or objective of your community activity (like support case deflection) is a great goal, but if there is no infrastructure to measure the communities impact, your success is hard to prove.  Do you guys have any experience with such a situation?

  • nikschen Sorry I missed this! We talk about this quite a bit actually, have you seen my most recent ROI article? Not sure if it’s helpful, but there may be some relevant tips there for you.