A discussion on community manager or builder's skills on Twitter incited me to post this list below. The following are various personality traits, behaviors and skills to look for in a Community manager or builder, straight out of my new book, Social Networking for Business (Wharton School Press 2010):
- Listening: A large part of a community manager’s role is being responsive to the members of the social group, noting their issues and tone, and having the patience and willingness to put things aside to pay careful attention to issues and problems.
- Talking: Writing or talking about their experiences, ideas, events, or other insight in a natural or casual tone helps users get to know the CMs better. This is not about marketing or making sales pitches, nor is it an extensive academic or official report.
- Taking notes: Good community managers are always taking notes, literally or mentally, and saving or organizing them in a retrievable fashion. In a conversation, they are listening carefully and taking notes on the key points the other person is trying to make. If CMs need to write something down, they can ask users for permission to take notes. With problem issues, CMs might perform the physical act of note taking, either with pen and paper or through tagging and writing online; mental notes often get lost or forgotten. The notes saved are helpful in other activities.
- Building relationships: Listening and talking sets a frame to build relationships with members. This is not just remembering the names of members, but also paying careful attention to their motivations, interests, activities, relationships, and other facets of their lives.
- Engaging in remote or virtual interactions: Being comfortable working in an environment in which you might never physically meet the users you work with is important. Online environments frequently do not require a physical office location, giving community managers the freedom to work from home or other venues. This also means having the responsibility to actually perform work in such a remote environment and to avoid distractions. However, this is not exclusive; knowing how to interact with members you have never met in face-to-face situations is also useful.
- Energizing members: A good community manager’s personality engages and energizes the people he or she talks to. These community managers like to shine the light on others’ activities and bring awareness to such activities they consider significant.
- Mediating: Within any social group, some degree of debate or argument eventually will arise. Community managers can play a role in mediating or arbitrating when things get rough. They don’t need to be the ones to find every solution: it’s better if the parties come up with a proposed solution: but they need to be open and seen as neutral.
- Voicing for the membership: Community managers might need to negotiate with other parties: whether competing for attention in the same organization or working with other sites, events, or groups: to bring attention to their own community or members. Community managers should be able to act as a voice for the overall group to the sponsoring organization or to other groups.
- Finding a way: CMs must handle a variety of issues—some I see occurring repeatedly, and others are fairly unique. Community managers need to have a drive to find a way to solve problems. This means persistence, intelligence, creativity, social awareness, and more. No template exists for this role—it requires an instinctual nature of wanting to help people.