I’ve been wanting to share this story for a while, so when MyCMGR posted that they were looking for people to tell their stories of how they became community managers, I jumped at the opportunity.
One of the things that I truly believe is that everything happens for a reason. And while you don’t always see it when you are in the midst of things, when you look back on your life, it all becomes very clear. Things just fit together so perfectly.
So let me tell you my story on how I came to be a community manager.
It was January 24th 2011 and I came across a post by Lisa Barone titled 8 Ingredients That Make a Community Manager. As I read this post I started crying. This was who I was. I was a brand ambassador, a brand monitor and brand communicator. I had the 8 traits she said you needed.
I had been doing many of these things for years without always understanding what I was doing or realizing their value. Her article hit me hard and I knew that this is who I was. I was a community manager.
(Side Note: I have shared and referenced this article many times, and just today as I was grabbing the link, I notice that Lisa wrote this for Community Managers Appreciation Day 2011. Now I am writing a post for Community Manager Appreciation Day 2014 #crazy)
I had recently quit my day job to run my company MKELive full time, but I was realizing that I really didn’t want to build another company from scratch. I wanted to be part of a team. I had even created a list of twenty things I loved doing and was looking for opportunities that would allow me to do as many of these things as possible in a new role. This list, paired with my newfound identity, armed me with the confidence that I needed to make bold moves.
Several days after I read the article, I was contacted by my friend David Adler whom I had met in Chicago at one of his BizBash events. He remembered me from the project I was working on when I met him. I had been the host for the Inspire me project: A project to find inspiration through others which I worked on with the crew at Flipeleven.
He wanted to know if I would come to New York City in a week to moderate the online portion of an event he was doing. He couldn’t pay me, but travel expenses would be covered. I had never been to New York City, so I said yes. Also, I had thought this would be a good time to connect with the team at Hashable.
Hashable was a tool that I had been using for several months that allowed me, the master connector, to save and remember everyone I met.
Hashable was an online tool to easily save and remember everyone you meet, send biz cards, keep track of meetings and interactions, anchor connections with reminders and notes
I had already been selected as one of 18 to go to South by Southwest (SXSW)—which had been a dream of mine for several years-as a Hashable evangelist.
So I thought, “If the Hashable office isn’t too far from this other conference, I will visit while in NYC.” It turned out that it was a only a few blocks away. Again, #crazy. How does this happen in a city the size of New York?
I quickly got a meeting scheduled to meet Mike Yavonditte and team. We had a great meeting. I shared what I loved about the tool, what I thought was working and what I thought could be improved upon. And then Emily Hickey mentioned that they were going to be looking for a community manager soon. WHAT?!! I didn’t say anything at the time, but the gears of my mind were turning.
I ended up staying another day with the Hashable team to talk about ways to build a better product, and shared many ideas I had for growing their community around their product.
One thing they were doing prior to SXSW was hosting #Hashups in different cities around the country. I asked if they were doing any in Milwaukee or Chicago and they said no, and that they didn’t have the capacity to do that. I offered to host them, and they agreed. I knew this would be a key event and as soon as I got back to Milwaukee I started planning, calling people and putting the event together. I got 125 people signed up in just a few days. Mike, the CEO, was so impressed he decided to fly to Milwaukee for the event. It was a success. I also hosted two smaller events in Chicago and Columbus before meeting the team in Austin for SXSW.
By this time, I knew that I was the perfect person to be their community manager, and I was out to prove it.
I was the best Hashable Evangelist that I could be for them at SXSW. I also told everyone I met there that I was going to be their new community manager, and that if they thought I should be, to let the Hashable team know.
I had an amazing time. When I got back to Milwaukee, I emailed Mike and told him I was serious about being their Community Manager, and that I had already outlined what my key tasks would be, along with my 90-day plan. He said that they were serious, too, and that they would fly me to New York to work out the details. I started on April 28th in 2011, just three months after discovering that I was a community manager.
And that, my friends, is how a gal from Milwaukee became the Community Manager for a venture-backed tech company, called Hashable in New York City.
While I am no longer with Hashable, the experience and the time I spent there was invaluable and also led me to my new position as Community Manager for Milkster out of London. This is another amazing story of pieces falling into place, but it’s a story for another day.
In honor of Community Manager Appreciation Day, let me just say: If you think community management is your calling, find a community you are passionate about and show them that you are their community manager. #makenosmallplans
Follow Katie on twitter @KatieFelten or on her “If life is worth Living, its worth recording blog.” http://katiefelten.me/
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