To be an effective tech community manager you need to be more than just knowledgeable about your niche, you need soft skills and hard skills and the ability to use them all at the right time.
A community manager is tasked with building the online community, that means creating content that invites responses, modulating posts, encouraging community members to become active supporters, maintaining your knowledge level, overseeing online systems, and communicating effectively.
It’s not an exhaustive list but should certainly give you an idea of how diverse the role of a tech CM is. You need these 6 critical soft skills to successfully complete this task on a daily basis, especially as you’re probably doing this in your own time.
Knowledge Of Your Niche
It almost goes without saying that you need to understand the niche you’re presiding over. Of course, you’re probably already passionate about your niche, in this instance it’s usually an extension of your chosen career.
But passion isn’t enough. You need to have a thirst for knowledge that is fed by surrounding yourself with your chosen subject. That means virtually living and breathing your subject matter. It should feel fun to learn more about it. This will make it enjoyable creating the content needed as a community manager.
Your community will help you to stay at the top of your game but it’s your passion for the niche that will drive your knowledge and ensure you become recognized as an expert in your field.
That’s essential if you wish to develop a good reputation for your online community and your position as a tech manager.
However, you shouldn’t assume your online community will be enough. It’s important to keep aware of general developments in the field and anything that relates to your niche. Create a habit of learning and you’ll find it much easier to stay at the top of your game.
A critical Community Manager Soft Skill: Communication
Knowledge is essential to become a recognized and respected name in your chosen niche. It will open doors for you in the future. In fact, what started as a part-time home project can end up leading to a full-time role, with financial backing.
But, this level of knowledge is no good unless you’re able to communicate about it. Of course, communication is critical in most roles but, as a community manager, looking after a community in your own time can be particularly challenging.
In this instance, communication is rarely done face to face. Most of the time, you’ll be posting content and calls to action in a bid to get responses from your community. But, you also need to be ready to respond to queries. Being polite and providing speedy responses is important if you want your community to grow.
In addition, you’ll need to speak to other communities, sharing interests, and looking for opportunities to boost your own following. It’s also possible that you have delegated some of your workloads and need to communicate with those that are helping you.
An awareness and presence on social media are obligatory if you want to communicate effectively. You also need to have a video and instant messaging option that ensures you are reachable to your members.
Alongside this, you should have a presence on social media that allows you to connect with the larger community that your niche belongs to.
Communicating properly is essential to your success but its time-consuming and easy to overlook. The real skill of communicating is in being prepared to talk to others and always remembering that you’re a community manager representing a community, being civil and professional is essential.
Don’t forget, the more open you are the easier you’ll find it to get the right results.
The Ability To Delegate
A good tech manager recognizes that, despite extensive knowledge, they are not necessarily the best in every possible way. Gaining assistance to deal with modulating, content creating, member subscriptions, and a host of other items ensures your time is free to direct the community and protect its place as the number one resource for a given niche.
Delegating successfully means that you need to be decisive and trust the people you’re developing too. In many cases, this is members of the forum that want to do more. The good thing about using members of the forums is they already have the interest and passion for the subject.
Being decisive means evaluating the potential options for any given scenario and making a decision that you think will be in the best interests of the community. While it’s fine to seek advice on this, the final decision is yours and you need to be able to make it.
Once made, you need to trust your team to take care of it for you. There is no point delegating something and then watching over the individual like a hawk. You must trust your own judgment, you’ve chosen someone to handle a specific element, let them do so.
A Willingness To Listen
You may have started the online community and invested hours into building it into something special. But, you are the community manager, it’s nothing without its members.
In order to ensure they are happy and the community is moving in the right direction, you need to be confident that you’re hearing what they are saying.
While the listening is usually done electronically, this doesn’t make it any less important. When someone has an issue to raise, have the patience to listen to their issue and the empathy to put yourself in their shoes.
At the least, you’ll stand a chance of keeping your community member happy because you listened. You may even realize what the problem is and create a solution to the issue.
This should be evident in your responses, never just say ‘I agree,’ or something similar. Consider their comment and deliver a well laid-out response that is thoughtful, insightful, and acknowledges the effort they’ve made to bring up the issue.
As well as impressing the member with your response, you’re likely to impress the rest of the community. That has to be a good thing when you’re looking to convert community members into active supporters.
Being able to listen also means you’ll be aware of new opportunities for your members and the community.
The Right Attitude in Community Management
They say curiosity killed the cat but a healthy dose of curiosity is essential if you want to stay abreast of the latest developments. It’s curiosity that will force you to talk to strangers, interact with community members, and seize opportunities, no matter how scary they may seem. Being curious means your knowledge can develop and grow, improving the community you can offer to others.
But, the right attitude is not just about curiosity. You also need the creativity to put new ideas into action. A big part of being a tech manager is knowing where the current limits are and the potential to push these limits in creative and interesting ways. It’s what will separate your community from others.
You’ll also need to have plenty of motivation. In most cases, this type of role is done because you have a passion for a specific subject. That means you’re performing the role for free and using your own time to keep the community going. That can consume all your spare time and even be exhausting. You’ll need the motivation to keep doing it. Consider what interests you o much about the niche and what you think you may get out of it. This will help you to decide if you have the motivation required to consistently update, monitor, and manage your site. After all, consistency is key to retaining members and you need the motivation to ensure your consistency is maintained.
You should also be able to motivate others. Your assistance will need help periodically to ensure they are driving the community forward in the right way. Inspiring them with your motivation will help to keep them motivated.
Finally, every tech manager is responsible for the direction the community is going in. Only you know if your aim is to become the most knowledgeable resource on the web or to move into business development and even try to make money from your community. Either aim or anything else in between is acceptable. But, you need to know what direction you’re planning on taking the business in. Without direction, the community is likely to flounder.
Then, you’ll see members slowly starting to disappear and it’s a lot harder to get them back once they’ve left.
Along with this, knowing the direction you want your community to go in means you’ll be more effective at public relations, especially if negotiation is necessary to secure the necessary aid. It will also allow you to set definable goals. These will give you targets to hit, effectively allowing you to reduce a large goal into small manageable ones.
Additional Community Manager Soft Skills
The skills list is not exhaustive as some skills must be present or discovered to support a specific niche. As a tech community manager with a passion for the specific technologies, coding languages, or frameworks, you won’t have an issue improving your skillset. It is for the greater good.
It is almost inevitable that a community tech manager will need to resolve a conflict at some point. In many cases, the conflicts arise between members arguing over a specific point. As a tech manager, you’ll need the ability to step into the issue and resolve it. It’s highly likely that you’ll have to get those involved to agree to disagree. Developing the right approach will help to keep both members happy, without either feeling like they’ve given unnecessary ground. As a tech manager, this can be one of the most challenging aspects, a wrong move could cost you hundreds of members!
You will also need to sharpen your time management skills. The better known your community becomes the more time you’ll need to spend monitoring it and managing it. The only way to do this successfully is with good time management. There are a number of apps designed to help you manage your time successfully.
Learning to manage time while ensuring you’re adaptable to the changing needs of your chosen niche will help you to stay adaptable. That’s essential if you’re going to identify requirements for your online community today and in the future. The best way to stay ahead of the competition is to monitor the latest developments and react to them. This effectively prepares you for the future, especially if you’re constantly thinking about where your community will be in 3-5 years.
Summing up: Critical Soft Skills for Community Management
A good tech community manager will develop their critical skills daily. A little practice will go a long way and will be noticeable to your members. You don’t need to be the perfect tech manager on day one, but you do need the willingness to grow and transform until you become one.
The good news is that it is possible to acquire new skills in order to improve your abilities as a tech manager and ensure your community has a future. Technology moves at an incredible pace, you need to be aware of which parts are likely to affect you and which can be used to improve your reputation and the standing of your community.
Of course, all tech community managers should remember the importance of the right platforms working with them. Choosing the right one is going to help you make the most of the time you have available. This is where Codemotion can help.
We have a free toolset for developers and community managers which is constantly being improved and helps you to build communities and arrange events. Feel free to check this guide to our platform to learn more about what we can help you achieve. And remember, we do it for free.
Of course, there are other tools that can help but this one is free and effective. What Codemotion has that other tools do not have is the people behind: developers who devoted their experience and passion for tech communities and technology to build a free platform made for their peers, that could help each and every one of us build a thriving community and meet new people with different backgrounds and expertise.