The push is on. The internet needs community managers and community professionals...and there aren’t enough of them. So where to start? Whether you are a start-up or a community professional, the answer is the same.
Your journey begins inside the communities that are active right now. See who is building and what they are building...that’s where you’ll find the expertise you are looking for.
Taken from Naval’s famous "How To Get Rich (without Getting Lucky)” tweetstorm, this quote it applies less to money than it does to the demand for domain-specific knowledge. The money is the outcome of the opportunity.
“You will need to rent your time to get started... Preferably in a business where society does not yet know how to train people and apprenticeship is the only model.” ~ Naval Ravikant [here]
Community Management is innately specific. So specific, in fact, we don’t have programs or courses or degrees to train people. This is such new territory that the only model is really an apprenticeship program.
How to Apprentice
First, you need to find something you are interested in. Something new to you. Not something that you have expertise in, because that expertise will get in your way.
A great example would be the NFT communities that are exploding right now. There's plenty to learn in this space, and nobody is an expert just yet.
Find a place that has the right vibe for you. Better yet, find 3. Get inside and spend time there every day, even if it's just 30 minutes.
Find out where the community is going, bonus points if they have a roadmap. See who the players are, and try your hand at light interaction and/or banter. If you’re having fun, it’s the right place.
Volunteering Your Time
Since you specifically picked an area where you don't have the expertise, all you can do is volunteer your time.
Every community that is emerging has needs. From organization to branding, to merchandise, to governance, to moderation...the list goes on forever.
If community leadership is asking for help, start there. If not, send a private message and offer your services.
You can be specific around a targeted instance, or you can simply offer in general.
The key is that you are offering.
Running a community is insanely time-consuming. Give the leadership time to get back to you.
You might even have to ask two or three times. Be persistent, but friendly.
When the opportunity comes along, don't sleep on it. Even if it's not exactly what you want, take it with enthusiasm and get to work.
Go One Step Beyond
With the opportunity in your hands, it's time to over-deliver.
Not in a selfish I just came up with this amazing, uni-directional, amazing idea kind of way. Rather, do it in the open with the opportunities for community feedback and engagement of others.
Do research as you start this project. Start with questions instead of answers.
Look at the full scope and come up with multiple solutions, not just one. There is no one right solution for any given community.
Be proud of what you’ve built, but don’t obsess about it being in a “finished” state.
Hold No Grudges
There is no guarantee that your work will be used. Even if it is, it may be used in a completely different way than you intended.
The value isn't necessarily that thing you created. The value to the community lies in you getting hands-on and building something. Community experience is all about the doing.
Remember: We earn community experience points when we show up, not for mind share or expertise.
Your resume is practically useless in the community space because there is no official starting point. No degree. No “typical” path.
Instead, be prepared to show what you built and who you built it with as that carries more credibility.