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Hiring the Heartbeat (AKA Your Community Manager)

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About a month ago I had the chance to attend the Global Coworking Unconference Conference (GCUC) in LA. It was, without a doubt, one of the greatest conferences I’ve had the privilege of attending and has lead to great connections and friendships.

As we hopped from one conversation to the other, I started to notice a recurring question: “How do you find the right community manager?” You know, the second-hand to the founder themselves. The one that breathes life into the space and makes everyone feel connected and happy to be there?

It’s hard to know exactly what you’re looking for when you haven’t looked for it before (or you’ve had some bad luck) so let’s discuss the characteristics of the unicorns we call community managers.

They Love the Space

I’m a strong believer that in order to thrive in the community management position, a person needs more than an administrative assistant background and that can’t be the reason they’re interested in the position. Answering phones, showing people where the restroom is, and making sure members are comfortable is only scratching the surface.

When you’re looking for your community manager, they should be passionate about your space and coworking in general. They might not have a background in coworking yet (which many find to be ideal) but they must have the understanding of what kind of movement they’re supporting.

Interview tip: Give them a tour of the space before the interview. During the interview ask if there were certain aspects of the space they loved the most. Ask them what they like specifically about your coworking space and how you represent it.

They Love People

There seems to be a bit of backlash when you admit to looking for an extrovert vs. introvert, so I’ll tread lightly and avoid that terminology. I will say this though: if your community manager doesn’t love people, you’re going to have a tough go of it.

And I don’t mean they like people in the sense that they simply tolerate them. If your community manager doesn’t like to talk to people they obviously won’t connect with members enough to know what they do or what they need, which means they can’t connect them to each other.

Interview tip: Ask them how they’ve been able to solve a problem for someone else, or to give an example of a time they gave great (not just good, but great) customer service.

They Aren’t Above Any Job

While chatting with multiple community managers at GCUC it was quickly apparent we were juggling a million different tasks. A community manager’s expertise literally is juggling as many hats as possible. Each community manager will geek out about a certain aspect of their community manager role. I met one that loved the space organization and design aspect of the job, and she was able to make the space feel like home to a bunch of people. Another was really happy to work on the operations side and to make sure member onboarding was quick and efficient. There is no human wired to love every aspect of community management (or any job, honestly), but make sure they are going to thrive in some aspect of the role.

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This is also something to consider as a founder: when you’re hiring your community manager, make sure you listen to what parts of the job bring your community manager happiness and which pieces they aren’t overly jazzed about. If it’s a good fit, be mindful of what makes them tick and what brings them to life in their role. If they HATE operations and you need an operations focused community manager, you’ll both be miserable soon.

Interview tip: Ask them what tasks they like and dislike about their current job? Make sure to have a detailed list of roles and expectations for your community management position, and ask them what might be their favorite and least favorite?

They Think for Themselves

Do they want to come up with new ideas, problem solve and run by your side? Hire them immediately! A community manager that can think independently will be able to identify (and solve) issues you might not see if you’re not in the space all of the time. They’re also able to come to the table with ideas on how to grow your membership, enhance the coworking experience, and alleviate some of your crazy workload.

Interview tip: Ask how they might help grow your social media presence, organize your operations or boost membership numbers.

They’re Kind of Crazy

I can’t stress this point enough!

Your community manager should always, always, always be at least a little bit crazy. Pay close attention to how personable they are and if you feel the ‘vibe’ from them that you would want from someone representing the space. If you don’t think you’re good at reading people, ask someone who is. I would even suggest inviting a member to interview this potential new hire.

But really, the right community manager should be fanatic about coworking and crazy about cultivating connections and helping the space grow. Mediocre or careless doesn’t cut it for this role. Just like the title of this article, your community manager is the heartbeat of this space. If they’re not crazy about your coworking space, who will be?


About Author

Kay is a Project Coordinator and Community Manager at CO+HOOTS in downtown Phoenix, AZ. She's also a word magician and lover of all things Phoenix. She was introduced to the coworking scene while writing a story about CO+HOOTS and has been passionate about its growth ever since. She has coordinated 24-hour hackathons for students learning to code, 24-hour create-a-thons where creatives build teams to revamp a nonprofit's website and strategy, startup competitions, and meetups for women in the startup community. She's freakishly passionate about culture and community- namely in how to build it and retain it. Community outreach, event organization and culture building is the name of her game. Chat with her at [email protected] or follow her on Instagram @kaytranstrum.

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