After my third trip to the Community Leadership Summit, it’s quite clear that the world of community management is maturing.
A few years ago, CLS struggled to get 100 people in the room, especially the second day of the event. This year, there were well over 200 people at CLS, and Day 2 was just as busy as Day 1. Attendance is growing more international; not just the US and Europe were well represented, but community managers from China and India (and probably more) were also on-site. On a more prosaic note, sponsorship is up, too. Adobe is a proud sponsor of CLS.
The most important thing about CLS, and what keeps me coming back every year, is the quality of the content and the fantastic conversations that take place there. The CLS wiki has crowdsourced notes from many of the sessions, but it’s a pale shadow of the value you get from actually being there.
Each year, new community managers come in, but there’s also a growing base of practitioners who’ve been in the field for some time now and are taking a more in-depth approach to the discipline. That cross-pollination of ideas is great for everyone.
This year I facilitated a session on tools for community management on Saturday as well as gave a plenary talk on Sunday. The Sunday talk was something I haven’t done before – I talked about crisis communities and used the recent events at the Horace Mann School (my alma mater) as an example of community formation in a crisis. It was hard to talk about something so personal at a professional event but judging from the feedback I got, it went over well.
Each year, I come home more convinced that it doesn’t matter if you’re the manager of an open source community or a corporate one, a huge community or a tiny one; community programs and community managers have far more things in common that not.
We all struggle with issues around tooling and support, and managing difficult personalities. We’re all trying to find more and better metrics for judging the success and health of our communities. We all deal with burnout and stress. And we’re all looking for ways to bring in new community members while trying to keep longtime contributors active and engaged.
If we all keep talking to each other, we can leverage all that intelligence and passion we have for our work to make all of our lives easier and our communities stronger.
TL; DR: the Community Leadership Summit is a great event, and if you’re a community manager, you should put it onto your calendar for next year.
Versions of this post are cross-posted here and on my personal blog.