October 10, 2023

Community Management Myth #3: You Need a Background in Customer Service or Marketing

By David D.

This is part of a blog series on 10 Myths About Community Management, please see the main article for more details.

There exists a pervasive notion that community management careers demand specific professional backgrounds in roles like marketing, customer service, or sales. While experience in those domains can complement the work, the core competencies required stem most importantly from developing interpersonal skills and a dedication to bringing people together. An effective community leader draws from diverse strengths, not any single track.

On a surface level, operating online discussion boards or planning community engagement initiatives appear akin to social media promotion or facilitating customer support threads. However, community work taps into deeply human needs for fellowship, validation, and empowering civic participation in ways transactional roles fail to address.

The most impactful managers cultivate spaces where individuals from all walks feel motivated to mutually learn, support one another through challenges, and leverage united efforts to drive positive change together. What enables this kind of vibrant togetherness lies not in technical acumen alone, but cultivating competencies like empathy, active listening, and cultural sensitivity.

While business aptitudes may complement community leadership, the core focus centers on understanding human psychology, interacting respectfully across differences, and appealing to our shared hopes over frictions. An effective manager sees each participant holistically as deserving dignity through participation however they are able rather than customers or consumers alone.

Some assume community work demands extroversion or comfort in large crowds like promotional careers imply. However, management also embraces aptitudes from more reserved strengths like nuanced interpersonal skills, keen observation, and one-on-one mentorship. What matters is cultivating care, inclusion and creative problem-solving wherever one’s talents lie.

Backgrounds in fields touching lives directly such as social work, education, counseling or journalism uniquely prepare individuals to empower collective strides through compassion. These depth perspectives teach seeing beyond surface conflicts to our inherent capacity for fellowship, resilience through hardship together, and bringing out others’ best qualities regardless of frictions outwardly.

Community work stands as its own rich profession whereby technical learnings augment but never replace dedication to humankind. As communities encompass all manners of interests and demographics, so too must management embrace thinkers from any walks who center relationships and civic good. Heart and empathy differentiate community spaces as vessels for empowerment, not consumption alone.

When management prioritizes uniting diverse passions for progress over any one trajectory, it cultivates the kind of vibrant learning and care that uplifts people holistically. Those called recognize nurturing togetherness through respect, understanding and compassion as life’s highest purpose – no certification or role alone could instill such a vision, but only experience walking alongside others.

David D.
David D.

Building Online Communities since 1998 | Full Stack Community Professional | Host of Community Live