From Chaos To Order (And Then Chaos Again!). My Life As A CM.

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Becoming a Community Manager is a funny thing, because when I got the job, I honestly had no idea what a community manager actually was—much less, what one did.

Growing up, I was always the kid who knew what he wanted to do with his life. While my friends in school and university were trying to figure it out, I had it down—I was going to be a newspaper journalist, telling great human interest stories the city wanted to know about. And for a while, I was. I was editor of my high school paper, editor of the feature section and a weekly magazine insert in University, and after graduating, a reporter at a major newspaper in the states. Boom! Life goal accomplished, I was going to do this for the rest of my life.

Yeah, that plan didn’t work out so well.

Suddenly, we’re in 2008 at the height of the recession and I was out of a job. So what to do? Well, I decided I was going to fulfill a lifelong goal—watch the 100 best films of all time, all in a year. And more than that, I was going to do it publicly around the city. So I did, creating a project called Watch This. Two movies a week, some of the best ever made, for an entire year. We started showing them in my house, then other people’s homes and then, suddenly, throughout the city. What began with me and a few friends suddenly grew to 500 people watching the original King Kong on an outside public square on a giant screen. No advertisements, just pure word of mouth growth.

I had zero idea I was doing community management at this point, but it’s exactly what I was up to. And then, as I continued to organise screenings, I was found by Yelp—on Twitter of all things. They were impressed by my ability to grow a community from a small group of friends to tons of people, and by my ability to spread enthusiasm online and offline about it, and we’re looking for someone to do the same for them in my city. So I applied, and was made the first community manager of Cincinnati, Ohio.

Within days I was talking to local people about what they liked to do for fun in their spare time, and organising amazing events based around them. With my new found community, we tried new restaurants, explored the city, had a blast.

Time went by quickly, and enthusiasm spread. After two years of shaking up the Cincinnati crowd and getting them excited about their town, I was asked if I wanted to cut my teeth on London and help build a community there.

Absolutely.

From Chaos To Order (And Then Chaos Again!). My Life As A CM.

I got the job, packed up my necessary things (and my dog) and came to live in The Big Smoke. I’ve been here for three years, and although it’s a different crowd entirely, I have done some amazing things: I climbed the inside of Big Ben, I did a backstage tour of Wicked and met the cast, held a Halloween party London’s oldest bone museum, and held London’s first micro pig picnic (or The Pignic!) I’ve also been involved in burger nights, steak dinners, and cocktail master classes with popcorn that tastes like gin and tonic. Every day I get to try new things, meet different people, and explore London. Yes, this is a real job, my job, the dream job.

I’m 30 and have now been with Yelp for five years. I finally feel like I know what I’m doing with life (some days), and love my life and my job. I (thankfully) now know what a Community Manager does and will tell anyone who asks, it’s the best damn job in the world.

Alex Shebar

London Community Director at Yelp
Alex Shebar is a former reporter turned community manager and legendary rock star, but without any of the money, fame or musical talent. He is Yelp’s London first Community Director. This job often includes eating and drinking around London, which is tough, but someone’s got to do it. He thinks he’s the man for the job.

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2 comments
ProductPoet
ProductPoet

Love the post and thanks for doing all that you do to make your community - and our online community - an awesome place. Cheers!

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