Trusting the Dots – How Being a Community Manager Just Makes Sense for @stephawie

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The Prequel

When I first walked into HootSuite’s office, I had no idea what I had gotten myself into. I was greeted by the smell of a startup: bearded men, dogs and, of course, coffee. At the time, I was still studying Interactive Arts and Technology at Simon Fraser University and had no idea whatsoever what kind of career I wanted. Still, I went to HootSuite because I had been using the product for more than a year at that point and was loving it. When I heard they were looking for someone to intern for their Graphic Design position, I was sold. The timing was perfect because, as luck would have it, HootSuite was also looking for someone to grow the Indonesian community. Being Indonesian, I thought I could probably lend a hand on that too, even though I had been living outside of Indonesia for the past 7 years.

The Beginning

On my first day at HootSuite, I was struck by the fact I didn’t really know anything about building a community, nor did I have any idea of what that actually meant. Despite my self doubt, I dove in and started looking for anyone who would listen about HootSuite in Indonesia. When that finally happened, and then happened again, and then happened again, I was excited and knew it was on. The next few months flew by in a blur as I rode the digital wave and continued talking to anyone and everyone.

I was amazed, bewildered almost. People were so open to chat and so thankful to have someone reaching out to them. I remember walking home everyday feeling pretty accomplished, knowing I had made someone’s day. Little did they realize that by making their day, my day was also made.

As I kept talking to the community, I realized everything I had worked on so far in my life had lead to this. In the past, I aspired to be an Event Planner, Creative Thinker, Designer, and Marketer and I had no idea how I could combine my passions all together. Who knew being a Community Manager would be the answer?

In just a few months, the Indonesian community flourished and we saw 316% growth. I moved on to focusing my energy in building out the HootUp and Higher Education program for a few more months, before embarking on my newest task as a Community Manager leading HootSuite’s Global Ambassador program.

Stephanie Wiriahardja

Looking Back

I often pondered what I’ve done in the past that got me this lucky. To many of my friends, it might have seemed it was pure luck and I wouldn’t necessarily argue with them. I got in at the perfect time. However, that’s not all. I also worked really hard to get to where I am today. I enriched myself and my personal brand, I took the online social media club communities by storm, I stayed up and woke up early to chat with people across the globe, and the list goes on. It’s all worth it in the end because this is what I was meant to do, and I couldn’t be any happier doing what I love to do.

Everyday I get to talk to driven people around the world. My day to day work is ever changing and I feel safe experimenting and making (smart) mistakes. A good friend of mine once told me a famous quote by Steve Jobs, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.” It’s true. My random job experiences and skills are no longer random. The strangers I’ve met in the past are now familiar. They all made me the Community Manager that I am today and I’m eternally grateful for all the opportunities I’ve been given.

Tl;dr Be open minded and experiment. It will all make sense in the end.

Stephanie Wiriahardja

Community Manager, Global at HootSuite
Stephanie Wiriahardja is HootSuite’s Global Ambassador Lead. Though originally a Design student, Stephanie found her true calling is in building communities and developing programs to empower others. Recently, Stephanie gave a TEDTalk on personal branding, was awarded Top 24 Under 24 in Vancouver, and won the audience choice for The Social Media Awards Must Follow (on Twitter) 2013.

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