By Ted McEnroe, The Community Roundtable
Last week, The Community Roundtable released The Community Manager Handbook: 20 Lessons from Community Superheroes. The Handbook takes a closer look at twenty challenges community managers face in starting, building and growing online communities, highlighting examples from experienced community managers. As we talked to these current and former members of TheCR Network, we started to see common qualities that make them so well-suited for building effective communities. Want to be a community superhero? Here are the seven common traits we heard repeatedly in our conversations.
1. Community superheroes have a pulse.
OK, we are being a little tongue in cheek here (although in fact we can confirm that all of our community superheroes do have a pulse). What makes a community superhero special is their ability to understand and embrace the life force of their community – and just as important, to be able to explain what makes the community tick to those on the outside of it.
If you can’t explain what matters to your community, and why your community matters to the business, you need to come up with that explanation before someone creates one for you.
2. Community superheroes are connectors.
This isn’t a surprise. We asked our 20 superheroes about their “community superpowers” (see p. 4-5 of the Handbook), and nearly half picked something relating to connecting and finding common interests between and among people. They introduce. They connect. They link – and not just the organization to the community. They link members to each other – and in doing so scale their management capabilities exponentially by encouraging positive behaviors in member-to-member interactions.
3. Community superheroes are passionate.
I challenge you to have a conversation with any of the community superheroes and not come away without the feeling that they have a passion for community. They aren’t necessarily cheerleaders – although many of them have an infectious enthusiasm – but they all see the value that community can bring and have a strong belief in the value community provides to members and organization.
4. Community superheroes take the long view.
While they believe in the power of community, a community superhero knows that it won’t happen overnight. Great communities start small to grow fast. They set goals with rational timelines, and dig in their heels to explain that community is an investment, not a silver bullet.
5. Community superheroes keep it in perspective.
The flip side of passion is that the stronger your passions, the greater your tendency to burnout. While the most common superpower our heroes mentioned were connection-related, the second most common superpower theme was humor. And third was patience. Community superheroes remember that rarely are the highs as high nor the lows as low as they seem.
6. Community superheroes are lifelong learners.
A striking element of our conversations with the community superheroes was their eagerness to learn. While they have achieved a level of success, they realize they are part of a continually evolving field where today’s strategies may not fit tomorrow’s reality.
7. Community superheroes are humble.
For all their success, our superheroes were a remarkably humble group. One of the hardest things to get from the superheroes as a group were their photos. They are comfortable behind the scenes, making the community hum.
Not every one of our superheroes had every one of these traits, and our superheroes don’t have a monopoly on these seven traits. But if you’re looking to be a stronger community professional (or looking to find and grow someone in a community role), these seven qualities are a great place to start.
Want to see what our “superheroes” had to say about 20 of the key strategic challenges as you start, build and grow your community? Check out The Community Manager Handbook: 20 Lessons from Community Superheroes – available now from Higher Logic at www.higherlogic.com/CMHandbook