Recently, I was introduced to the StartUp Podcast. Alex Blumberg decided to start a podcast series about what happens when someone who knows nothing about a business starts one. It’s very interesting to listen along to Alex’s journey on how he created his business; he discusses his thoughts and records his conversations during his journey in creating his new business, and it’s interesting to hear from his perspective on how he has encountered several obstacles, both good and bad during this process.
This got me thinking; how has my journey been? What are the obstacles that I have encountered while working in this new position as well as taking on a second community? What was my thought process when Tom mentioned that we signed a contract to run the entire member experience for the community, Off The Record (OTR)?
I thought it would be interesting to share my journey and thought process with you all, our amazing community, on what it is like to manage another community while still managing the Swift Kick community. Who knows, maybe there will be some lessons here that you can take back to your communities and share your experiences with them.
The First Conversation
Back in March/April, Tom approached our team about OTR. He brought up the idea of taking on this community and wanted to know our thoughts. Of course we agreed! What would be better than to have more clients and to learn a new community? He explained that he would become the new Executive Director and we would help assist in any way.
Thought Process After The First Conversation
As soon as we were done with the conversation of OTR, the first thing I did was Google it. You always want to look good in front of your boss and not freak out. Internally, I had no idea what OTR was. I barely knew the in’s and out’s of Swift Kick back in March! But it is okay; I told myself I would do what I know best – research, research, and more research.
At this time, before I approached Tom, I Googled OTR. I found out that it is a non-profit peer-to-peer community of venture-backed entrepreneurs who work together in smaller groups (called PODs) to challenge and support each other to mitigate problems and accelerate successes. HOW COOL, and nerve-racking, for someone like me. I am not an entrepreneur; I work for one, but I had no idea what it was like firsthand.
A few thoughts that ran through my mind after researching OTR was:
- How do I support entrepreneurs / a community I know nothing about?
- How do I make connections with this new community?
The Second Conversation
After researching and learning a bit about OTR, I thought it would be a great idea to meet with Tom again and ask him the hundreds of questions that I had. Well, maybe only four or five questions, but it still felt like a hundred! When we logged on for our chat, the first thing Tom asked was, “What are you thinking? How are you feeling about taking on a new community?”
This is why Tom is awesome. He throws new challenges at me but is always supportive. #awesomeboss.
I explained that I was nervous because I am still learning what it is to be the Community Manager at Swift Kick, however, I do love a new challenge and am excited for the new opportunity. In my mind, I was still freaking out. But no one wants to show that to their boss! Of course, I asked a bunch of questions, with the main two being “What is my role in this community,” and, “What is yours?” Like always, Tom had all the right answers. He explained both roles with ease and explained that we would be doing this together as a team.
Working as a team is what we do best! That is the beauty of being a member of Swift Kick. Tom and Jay are both extremely supportive and always have your back. The stress levels here are low and the support is high.
After a great conversation and a lot of understanding of my role in this new community, I got to work. There was a lot of brainstorming involved, and a lot of documents were created, edited, deleted, and created again. In the end, this is the list of things that I have come up with for OTR and how, as the Community Manager, I will be involved:
- Checking OTR email daily and answering any questions our members may have
- Checking in on Social Media
- Creating a Social Media Calendar
- What days do we post things
- What are we posting
- Member of The Week
- Quote of The Week
- Keep up with the community
- Be involved!
- Create a Press Release – announce that Swift Kick and OTR are partnering up!
- Create a weekly check-in with Tom so we are on the same page
Once Tom and I figured out a great set-up for OTR, we went live. We sent the press release out, Tom connected with every single member of OTR (and did a lot more, but I don’t have all of his notes), and I created the Social Media accounts and invited all of our members.
Once this was up and running, the stress just melted off my shoulders and relaxation set in. I felt silly after the fact that I was stressed/nervous at all! I have had a few conversations with OTR members since, and everyone has been incredibly positive and welcoming.
Have you ever had that “Aha” feeling after you learned something new? Me too! While researching OTR and learning about it, I realized it is very similar to The Forum Launcher. For me, I like to compare things.
Another “Aha” moment was connecting with some of our community’s companies. It was awesome to see who is in the OTR community and learn about what our members do. Connections are key. Connecting with them without them even realizing is pretty cool. What is even better is that I took it one step further and emailed every member personally to get to know them a bit better by asking them three fun facts about themselves and asking them to explain to me what their company is about in their own words. Yes, I can research and read about it, however it’s even better when you get to hear from CEO’s / Founders. The passion they put behind their companies is inspiring. I love connecting with people who are passionate about what they do.
Lessons Learned From Our New Community
One thing I love doing is learning about our community and learning from our community. Mind you, these are two different things.
What I learned about our community is who are our members who are active, who are not active, and their engagement level.
What I learned from our community is who our members are. This is still ongoing, and I am still reaching out and learning more every day. Making connections is important because you get to learn more on a personal level about what people think/feel. Within OTR, this is a bit difficult to do because it is made up mostly of CEOs and Founders, but it is still doable! It also allows me to let the community know who I am. I am the kind of person who likes to reach out and get to know you, not sit back and wait until there is an issue. I have learned that this can be difficult due to the business of our clients, however it is nice to still attempt!
I love that Swift Kick was able to partner up with OTR. We have the opportunity to meet new people, make great new connections, and learn more about what is going on in other communities. Expanding our knowledge through OTR and bringing it back to our Swift Kick family will continue to be an ongoing process, and as we learn new things, we will share them with all of you. I invite each of you to do the same. Tom, Jay, and I always love hearing about new things going on and the successes and challenges that you, our family, all go through.