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Episode Info: Welcome to episode 63 of the Nerd Journey Podcast [@NerdJourney]! We’re John White (@vJourneyman) and Nick Korte (@NetworkNerd_), two Pre-Sales Technical Engineers who are hoping to bring you the IT career advice that we wish we’d been given earlier in our careers. In today’s episode we discuss online community management and career paths with community manager Nic Tolstoshev. Once again, here’s the Nic Tolstoshev fan art Flickr feed we mentioned. Original Recording Date: 10-26-2019 Topics – Community Management and Career with Nick Tolstoshev 02:35 Community Manager Career Path and Time Commitment Do community managers get actively recruited for roles at other places? That is exactly how Nic ended up at Automox. The career path is all over the place. Some people burn out after a few years in the role, while others get into community management as a stepping stone (i.e. considering it entry level before making a lateral move). For those in it for the long haul, your skills will eventually be required / wanted elsewhere. There is not a great path to climb the corporate ladder from the community manager position, but this is starting to change with some companies making a whole department for it. A company’s having an online community is a differentiator which could potentially decrease the need for head count. Nic talks to some things that come out of communities that you never expected. Examples – SpiceRex, a special community award 08:38 – What about the time commitment for this role? Don’t make it an hourly position. There is more that goes into it. Nic likes to keep an eye out after hours since online communities aren’t just in use during vendor business hours. As a solo community manager, you can leverage power users of the community as moderators to help. Nic likes to select an informal backup within the company that is passionate about community so he can take vacations, sick days, etc. There is a certain social contract that applies to online community participation. Getting additional funding / resources requires showing proof of added value to the bottom line. Look at things like number of engaged users, page views, traffic, if questions are getting answered (reply %), etc. as key performance indicators. Product feedback can be requested and given within the online community through feature requests, focus groups, beta tests, etc. Nic shares a story from Intuit in the QuickBooks for Mac forum when he helped the product team uncover a bug and had to act as the DeFacto PR person in this situation. Community managers have to help keep the public informed in a corporate disaster. 22:47 – Advice for the Would Be Community Manager and Closing Thoughts Technical skills won’t stay as sharp. Nic mentions missing out on getting his hands dirty in the virtualization movement. He worked on the community team at a company outside the technology space but found himself doing a great deal of technical work (back end...
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