Posts tagged "events"

Community Leadership Summit 2012

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.

Pitching Sessions at CLS 2012

Pitching Sessions at CLS 2012

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.

CLS 2012 Attendees

CLS 2012 Attendees

Versions of this post are cross-posted here and on my personal blog.

Engaging at Events: What It Takes

Events are one of the best times to engage with your community. You’ve got anywhere from a few hundred to many thousands of your most passionate customers in one place at one time – what better time or place to form connections and get feedback?

For successful event engagement, you need a few key things. In no particular order, they are:

A goal. What does a “successful event” look like from an engagement standpoint? Are there specific things you’re trying to get feedback on? Is there a call to action you’re trying to communicate? What is it that will make you feel like the event was time and money well spent? The answer is going to be different for every group or company, but for best results you need to have one.

A place to talk. Having a booth is all well and good, but if there’s no place in that booth where you can sit down and talk, you’re missing out on an opportunity. If you don’t have the space for an actual seating area, at the very least, have furniture that people can gather around. Here’s a few examples, from bad to best:

No place to sit. Uninviting open space says "keep away"

No place to sit. Uninviting open space says "keep away"

Two different areas to engage - a step in the right direction

Two different areas to engage - a step in the right direction

Nice big booth. Lots of places to sit and chat!

Lots of places to sit and chat!

See what I mean?

The last thing you need is people whose job it is to engage. Our social and community teams do a lot of the heavy lifting here, but if you need extra hands to help, attitude is the most important thing. Someone with good listening skills and a willingness to engage with customers can be brought up to speed on the rest. If it’s a technical event, having someone with deep technical skill is necessary, but it’s OK to hand off people looking for more help than you can give them as long as it’s done with tact.

In the Twitter / Facebook / Pinterest / Instagram / YouTube / etc etc era, it’s easy to forget about the value of face to face encounters. Make sure you keep some event engagement as part of your mix, because those personal connections are an incredibly powerful part of community building.

What are some other things you’ve learned about building community connection at events? Let me know in the comments.

Photo Credit: #1 and #2, me. #3: Oğuz Demirkapı