Community Building Career: Different Roles And Global Opportunities

Muskaan Swami
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August 17, 2022
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Every community builder today is almost in a state of confusion when it comes to a community building career. We've spoken to a lot of community builders, and one thing that came out of these conversations is that there are a lot of unknowns. There isn't much clarity around how this whole community building career is evolving for them?

In most organizations, individuals from different professions contribute to community building in different ways. There aren't proper teams having a proper hierarchy. That is why it's very difficult to imagine the structure and what the community building career could look like for them. To help community builders with that, today we'll talk about different community building roles.

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By the end of this blog, you'd know:

  • What is the scope of the community building industry?
  • What are the global community building opportunities for a Community Building Manager?
  • What is the difference between global brand communities and Indian brand communities?
  • What is the traditional community building career path for Community Builders?

.... And much more!

So let's get started right away!

What Is The Scope Of The Community Building Industry?

As per an article published in exchange4media, 38.8% of people in India said in a recent survey that online communities have become 'significantly more important'. Whereas 29.5% of people from the rest of the world feel the same. Seeing Indian communities gaining importance at such a high rate, it's only right to say that the scope for the Indian community building industry is huge.

A lot of educational professionals have also already started institutes and training programs for those who aspire to be community leaders. Avani Parekh, former Community Manager For Developing International Relations in North America for Facebook, says, ""I can tell you this, when I was at Facebook, some of the largest and most active and vibrant communities that had the most active members, were from our part of the world.""

""So, I think that's not gonna go anywhere, and especially post-pandemic."", she further adds. When it comes to new and emerging career opportunities in India, the field of online communities can be described as a gold mine. Most certainly, online communities are the future. And in India, communities have been the past too as they exist offline.

Avani, being an Indian, has helped community leaders power up their leadership, access, and impact across different Facebook platforms. So, she explains, ""We're already community-oriented as desi people. So, I think we're going right in our stride to grow even more.""

What Are The Global Community Building Opportunities For An Indian Community Manager?

There are various community building opportunities across the globe. All that you need to do is adopt the right approach to grab an opportunity. Here are 3 ways in which Indian Community Building Managers can get a global community building opportunity.

1. Apply For Remote Community Building Jobs: Thanks to Covid, a lot of organizations now are very open to hiring for remote resources. And a bunch of them today, are not very particular about the resource being based out of a particular country. Or the country in which the organization could be based. So, that's a great trend that one can follow to get a global community builder job.

2. Companies Wanting To Enter The APAC Market: ""I think, if we as Indians are looking for organizations, that would be hiring for such roles, I think it's always great to keep an eye on job boards of these organizations. Because there are a bunch of them who perhaps, want to get into the Indian market or the APAC market."", says Neha Agarwal, International Community Development Manager at Quora.

So, for companies that are looking to enter the Indian or the APAC market, there Indians could come in very handy as a resource and then could get hired. That's how Neha pretty much found her community building job at Quora. So, this is a tip using which Indians could typically look for community building opportunities.

3. Opt For Freelance Projects From Upwork: And now something which is again growing quite a bit, is getting assignments as a freelancer via Upwork. Neha says, ""That is something that I have noticed as a hugely growing trend. And there, location doesn't matter at all. They're looking for skills, and they are looking for appropriate experience."" Neha further explains how she knows a bunch of people who have been able to bag assignments.

So, if you are looking for a community building role that can give you global exposure, then you should be a part of some of these platforms that connect the supply and the demand side. And definitely, Upwork is a great place to be, to find a community building career opportunity. 

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What Is The Difference Between Global And Indian Brand Communities?

The only difference when you work with a global brand is that they already have a sense of community. Global brands already have a clear structure. They already have a clear vision of what they want from their community. In India, it is very new. People are getting to know about communities now.

Khushboo Chouhan, General Manager of Community and Engagement at Swiggy, explains, ""They are figuring out the structure. What do they want? What should be the ROI? In the coming years, I can see the Indian communities growing and competing with the global communities.""

Khushboo's statement can also be backed up by the fact that WhatsApp is now launching communities. And WhatsApp now gearing to launch online communities is only proof that communities are absolutely the thing to be and the future. So, great news for all of those who want to get into a community building career!

On the other hand, WhatsApp launching online communities will create a plethora of community builder job opportunities for the Indian community building managers, given India is definitely the most important market for WhatsApp adoption wise. And them launching communities on WhatsApp shows that the Indian market is now, probably, ready for online communities more than ever.

It can be assumed that for community builders, WhatsApp is going to bring a lot of community building opportunities. And also opportunities for structuring communities, given that a lot of audiences are already there. 

Community Building Career: Career Scope And Global Community Building Opportunities

What Is A Traditional Community Building Career Path For A Community Builder?

So, first thing first, you'd have to get your hands dirty. Like you'd have to go, talk to people, and solve their problems on a daily basis. You'd have to be the face of the company that you are representing. Because community is all about that. As a community builder, you'd be the face. People will reach out to you for everything. For good and for bad.

Khushboo explains, ""They will shout at you. They will send you lovely messages. Like you are bringing everything in. So, first, you get your hands dirty. Really understand the pulse of that. After that, you start looking at things more structurally."" So, once you start talking to people, you'll basically start gathering data for building your community better.

After you've gathered enough data, then you should start looking at it. For example, what kind of engagement is getting more views, likes, or comments? Observe what kind of content is getting liked by people? Then start building on that data. This will help you in getting more emotionally and technologically sound.

And only after you analyze your data thoroughly, will you be able to become a community building manager and start having your own team. Then you can see yourself becoming a very critical part of the growth team. So, you just can't skip the 'getting your hand dirty process' when it comes to the traditional community building career path.

""Because community can actually lead to the overall growth of the company. So, eventually, you can take that path of becoming a growth manager, or a product manager. Because as a community building manager, you are working with each of these verticals - growth, product, content, marketing."", Khushboo adds.

So, after you start talking to people and begin analyzing your data, then you can see yourself going in different directions. Once you know the basics of community building and how to grow it, then you can grow into various fields. You can decide your path based on that later on. If you want to be a community builder, then you'd have to start talking to people. If you are not talking to people, then you are wasting your time.

Community Building Careers: The Traditional Community Building Career Path And Hierarchy Of Community Building Roles

What Could Be The Hierarchy Of Community Building Roles?

When it comes to defining the hierarchy of community building roles, then let us tell you that there is no one way in which the hierarchy of community building roles can be set. But what one needs to understand is that community building managers are the starting and the ending point of it all. They are the ones who are required to get things flowing in an online community and the organization too.

Below are the 3 stages in which community building managers help in starting the process flow:

1. Talking To Community Members And Identifying The Problems

Community is a leadership pathway for people to grow into. Because in order for someone to be a community builder, they need to be visible in the community. They need to participate in the community, be a part of the community, and be active in those communities. This is the only way through which they can identify the problem to be solved.

Avani says, ""You need to speak up with them and then you need to deliver feedback. Back to the people that are creating the community. So, I think that is integral and I just want to double click on that."" So, basically, one needs to understand that they cannot sit on the sidelines and be a community builder.

2. Gathering Data And Explaining It To The Senior Leadership

By talking to the community members, you'll have the privilege to access data like what people want and what problems need to be solved? It is then your job to define those problems for the senior leadership. The upper-level leadership that you need to talk to and convince. You should be able to explain well what people are saying in your community.

And once you're able to do that, then you can also go back and be a part of the solutions. Solutions are also not found independently and individually. You'd have to go back to that same community. And if you are doing community well, you'll find the solution within the community too. You'll be playing this integral community building role of liaising between different parts of problems.

One needs to be able to find the problem, solve the problem, and build a stronger community through it. For providing the solution, one can grow in infinite numbers of pathways. They can go into marketing, they can move into product, sales, or the upper-level leadership - the C-suite. It depends on a person's ability to take what they've learned from their community and sell that on the inside.

Avani explains, ""So, whatever that means for you. For my part of the world, in samaj seva, that looks like being on the ground and talking to somebody who might be living in poverty. And then going back to my NGO office and saying here's what I heard. And going back out and giving a list of the options of the things that we can provide.""

3. Maintaining Presence Outside And Within The Organization

What people don't tell you about the community building job is that, it is as much about being visible on the outside as it is about being visible within the organization. You'd have to do just as much community building outside as you'd have to do inside. So, if you're opting for a community building career, know that you're gonna be building communities on both ends.

And to be able to do that with utmost efficiency, you need to have good communication skills. If you can communicate to the teams about the initiatives that are being done by the community, only then you are going to be able to really justify the value of community inside the organization. And probably, even get budgets for whatever programs that you are running.

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What Is The Role And Responsibilities Of A Community Building Manager?

In the State Of Indian Community Management Report 2021, 70% of the respondents described their title as a community manager. And 20% described their title as a senior community manager. The remaining 10% were community consultants, CXOs, etc. And then there are companies like Sheroes, where a community builder can also be called the Director of Empathy.

So, basically, the official designation of community builders can vary from company to company. When it comes to the Indian community building industry, various organizations are today trying to get a structure for the community building roles very differently. And as a result, it's very tough to really put down everything in black & white and have a lot of structure.

The Indian community building industry is just emerging. And so, the role of a community builder can primarily be seen as an individual contributor role. When you talk about strictly the individual contributor kind of roles, people are largely opting for community operations. It's an emerging industry today, and an emerging trend.

Neha says, ""I think it is a very critical role for a lot of communities and organizations out there. You have community specialists, you have community managers. You have program managers, where people are typically trying to build out specific programs for their communities. And then you have project managers, etc.""

There are also community building roles like event managers and social media managers who basically manage other community-related things for the organization. So, it's not very structured right now. There can be project-based and leadership community building roles too. These leadership community building roles can be designated as - International Community Development Manager.

So, when you look out for community building roles, there's another community building role that is coming up which is Director of Diversity and Inclusivity. So that is also one word that you should look out for when you are searching for a community builder job. For example, at Swiggy the official designation of the community builder is - General Manager of Community, Engagement, and Diversity.

So you should also lookout for the word called diversity.

Community Building Manager Responsibilities

1. Stakeholder Management: When it comes to the responsibilities of a community building manager, we can't stress enough how important it is for the community building manager to work with various stakeholders. Be it community operations, product, engineering, marketing, and so many more diverse departments. The job of a community building manager is not easy.

In a bunch of organizations, the community building manager facilitates this process of communication between these stakeholders and the community team. The community building manager scopes out the requirements, and strategies and negotiates. And then engages with the respective stakeholders for the same.

The community building role of a community building manager is to work with different teams in the organization if there are teams. If not, then they have to get their hands dirty and fill those gaps.

2. Feedback Gathering: The second most important community building job responsibility is to constantly and consistently, give feedback. ""Because we are the eyes and the ears of the organization. And I think that is so important to constantly structure the feedback we have, making sense of that for the respective teams that we are interacting with."", says Neha.

Community building managers basically represent the ideal persona of the users because they know the user the most. As a community building manager, you're bound to know the customers the most. So, if any team needs any insight about the customers or the users, they would typically come to the community building manager and ask their questions.

3. Delivering Results: As a community building manager, you'd have to deliver that feedback and see if something can come out of it. So, it's a very interesting community building role, almost like that of a program manager. It could be called different roles in different organizations. But again, a very interesting community building role to carve out for yourself in an organization.

4. Team Leadership: To be a community building manager, you need leadership skills, the ability to structure things, and to understand data to fulfill these community building roles. And role also liaises closely with the Founder, as both the roles have a very very similar DNA. Some of these skills are very similar to that of a Founder.

The better leadership ability the community building manager has, the more impact they are not only able to bring to the community but also to the organization. So, if you are a better leader, you'll also be able to negotiate and demonstrate the impact internally. If you want to jump into community building, start thinking of yourself as a leader.

Apart from this, the community building role of a community building manager is the most client-facing role or the most customer-facing role in an organization. And of course, there are more defined community building roles too. For example, there is customer support, marketing, and product management. But community building manager is one person who would still continue to be the most customer-facing.

Another quick insight is that people segue into various roles after they have done some solid community building roles. Neha explains, ""Because say, for example, let's pick up community operations. I think you would be such a value add for an organization if you have been on the community side and understand what are some of the challenges that the community faces.""

Or, if you get to explore something with a moderation kind of a setup, again, you will bring in so much valuable insight. You'd know about how the community feels, reacts, and digests moderation policies and the way that the community is being moderated. So, the community building role of a community building manager is a very very critical community building role for any organization.

Community Builder Job: Managing Burnout & Future Of Management Roles

What Are The Skills Required To Become A Community Builder?

To be able to fulfill the responsibilities that are mentioned above, there are certain skills that one needs to have. These are the skills that will help you in becoming a successful community building manager. Let us have a look at what these skills are:

1. Growth Management: If you want to be a community building manager, then you need to have the ability to manage scale. When organizations are looking to hire community people, they typically look for your ability to manage growth over time and strategize around that.

2. Data Analysis: You need to be data-savvy. You need to be able to not only understand the numbers but to communicate the numbers effectively. You should be able to explain what the impact of those numbers is. That is a very very important skill. And community builders need to be strong at IQ.

Especially for online communities, data is so important. You have to go heavy on your right brain as well. 

3. Creativity: Community building is all about creativity. If you're going to sit around and wait for people to tell you what to do, then it'll be really hard for you to grow and get to the higher levels.

4. Dealing With The Grey: Another skill you should learn is how to deal with the grey. Because community building is a kind of role in which this would be a consistent and a constant challenge that will be thrown at you.

5. Being Open To Change: You need to be very okay with the changes that will take place over time. Because a lot of organizations today are experimenting, learning, changing their strategy, and thinking about how they want to approach communities. And you should absolutely be open to evolving over a period of time.

What you'll do during the initial first 6 months, would be very different from what you'd be required to do 12 months down the lane. So, being very flexible, and resilient is definitely something that you should have as a skill.

6. Event Organization: The one quality you should have is knowing how to host good parties. Because if you love hosting parties, then you can bring a group of people together who have different thoughts and preferences, hence, increasing the engagement of the community. You should enjoy hosting parties.

We need to like hosting parties, to be a people's person.

7. Be A Good Listener: You should be a good listener. Because that's what you all have to do. If you don't listen to what people are saying, then you will not be able to communicate. And communication is really important. So, just listen to them and just be very calm, and patient, while listening to them. Because they will say things that you might not agree with.

There will also be times when you might not want to respond to them. But just be calm, patient, and listen to them.

8. Operations Management: You should be operationally really strong. Because if you, let's say, want to do a new experiment in the community, you need to work with different teams. Your work doesn't stop at just giving the idea. You have to execute it as well. So, you have to work with different teams.

You need to make sure that the product goes live. So, you should be very very operationally strong.

Skills Required To Become A Community Builder

How To Upskill And Learn To Be A Better Community Building Manager?

When it comes to upskilling, learning, and becoming a better community building manager, there are a number of things that one can do. Below are the top 6 things one can do for upskilling themselves:

1. Volunteer: If you really want to start learning about community management, then the first thing you should do is just volunteer in some community. Until or unless you'll do things on your own, you will not realize what it takes to be a good community building manager. So, volunteer or intern with a company that is looking for community building volunteers and interns.

Trust us, you will learn the maximum when you will actually do the work. The best way to learn is to start working. So, just go and reach out to people and start asking for work. We can't stress enough how much one can learn on a community builder job. Community building job learnings provide a lot of clarity. This includes things like new member onboarding and implementing different strategies.

2. Observe Other Community Admins: We all know that there are infinite communities out there on Facebook. So, all you need to" itten resources always available online in the form of Facebook groups and courses. These resources can help you learn the basics of community management. There are enough and more resources available today for anyone to get and read through.

4. Reach Out: If you want to know whether you are on the right path or not? Or just want to know what others are doing? Or is there something creative or different that you can do? Then start reaching out to people. But be very careful about time. It is very easy to get digressed. So be very thoughtful about who you're reaching out to and the time spent.

Because it is not just your time it is somebody else's time too. But people are very open to sharing learnings. That we can assure you about. Anyone can lay out a step-by-step community building plan for you. But it might not be right for you or your target market. So go and talk to people who are doing it and then make one for yourself.

5. Internal Resources: It is just not about external resources that you can find online. But there is enough and more knowledge within every organization. And if you're working in teams then you can learn a lot from your own colleagues. But make sure that whatever it is that you're learning you document it too.

That's something that will really help a bunch of others who are looking or seeking some of the information that you were once looking for. You can also create a group of peers and organize daily working calls. Whenever you're facing a challenge you can discuss that on these work calls and pick each other's minds.

6. Talk To Your Members: Also start talking to the people whose problems you're trying to solve. Your community members. That is the best way to understand where to start. Because then you will instantly understand why people might want to be gathered in the same space to speak to one another.

This will also give you clarity around how they can benefit from it and what the potential impact can be.

And on that note if you want to upskill yourself as a community builder then join Community Hood today. As part of our online community you'll get access to various exclusive learning resources!

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