Chronicles of a haggard community manager

via Bitstrips

via Bitstrips

What does it take to lead a community?
What do you do? What are you in charge of? What does a typical day look like for you?
Questions I get on a daily basis.
And almost every time, I pause. I sigh. I say “almost everything” Then I attempt to list everything that I do.
It may appear scatterbrained to an observer but any fellow community manager will understand exactly what I go through and why its ambigious.
 
And the struggles are real…
From disagreeing with everyone else in the organization (because you are mostly the only community facing person in the organization; which gets worse as the organization grows) to the event struggles, to those colleagues who treat you like the office receptionist – you know, coz your job is unclear to them and they’d hate for you to while your days doing nothing :-P.
Also how do you measure success?
Can you measure engagement? Online we have tools for that. Offline, not so easy. Is it by the number of meetings you have and how bubbly you are during? Is it from how hagard you look after a day of 10 meetings at least 4 days a week?Is it by the number of tours you can do without dropping dead? Is it by the number of emails you were able to respond to today as we aspire to inbox(0)? Which , in case you are wondering hasn’t happened to me in a long minute.
How do you measure success of the startups you support when you are not the Community Manager(CM) of an incubator or accelerator and cannot even track clearly the number of startups that you churn out, seeing as you pre-incubate innovative individuals who might or might not become startups during or after your time with them?
Let’s keep talking about the chronicles of a haggard CM 😉
This is the first post in a fortnightly series about being a community manager. The highs, the lows, and a place to share tips for engaging a community. Wanna contribute an article? Email mugethi@hergeekyness.com.

From “Just Geeky” to Savvy Entreprenuer

image from www.thefilmthugs.com

image from www.thefilmthugs.com

Your traditional image of a geek overlays comfortably with that of the mad scientist.
Hair unkempt, shabbily groomed, largely introverted and ill at ease in social situations prefers to sit and work away from everyone else, mostly in their bedroom at home. And of course, the compulsory geek glasses.

Your traditional geek (who we shall call Geek. Let’s allow Geek to be a he) is extremely intelligent, comes up with brilliant innovations and products. However, (s) he is largely lacking in social skills, has no idea how to pitch his/her product to a potential investor or partner. Geek has no clue on how to make his product attractive to a client, and is at a loss on how to begin letting people ‘out there’ know that it exists!

Because Geek is brilliant at what he does, he assumes that the market will just gratefully receive his app or e-platform, what with it being the perfect solution to the problems he identified. And tends to get rather easily disillusioned when the client critiques his ‘baby’.

So one day, through referrals, Geek lands his first big client. The down payment is larger than any amount of money he has ever received before! Yes!!! It’s time for Geek to go shopping! It’s time he upgraded from this tired, old computer anyway! A new high-performance smartphone is also necessary. After all, these are the tools of his trade. Connectivity, no?
To Geek’s rude shock, within 3 weeks, (2 weeks before he is done customizing the app for his client), his bank account balance is alarmingly low! Now he has to trudge on with this job, with hardly any of the comfort the down payment was meant to guarantee. Bummer! And who knows when another deal will be closed?

The iHub Jumpstart Series, whose maiden unconference took place on the 4th and 5th September at the iHub, is the answer to Geek’s dilemma.

iHub Hypemaster @Afrowave

iHub Hypemaster @Afrowave

Conceptualized and by Jimmy Gitonga (@afrowave), Jumpstart consisted of eight sessions in total (4 on each day) that were unconventionally facilitated by an expert and a start-up. They were tailored to address Geek’s questions.

• How do I manage my finances?
• How do I protect my idea?
• How do I go about ideation and testing my prototype?
• How do I brand myself and my product?
• How do I pitch to an investor/partner?
• How do I incorporate a company, and register a business/product name?
• Which business model would work for me?
• Where do I get funding?

Bootstrapping 101 with @TheMacharia

Bootstrapping 101 with @TheMacharia

The expert addressed the how-to, while the start-up gave their experience on the topic, including challenges and how they overcame them. The participants engaged the speakers in vibrant debates, sometimes having to stop on account of time.

The Branding session by Fadi (@fadzter) of @ARKnative is the expert session that stood out to yours truly. Simple. Clear. I understood not only what a brand is, but I felt I could verbalize the whole vague concept that is branding.

The start-up session that I enjoyed the most was Macharia’s (@TheMacharia) bootstrapping session. A candid poignant narration of his PesaTalk experience.

The iHub jumpstart series shall be a quarterly affair with the next one expected in December.

~Her Royal Geekiness~