The last time I wrote for Jay was way back in 2012 when I was still a community manager for MBA@UNC, the online MBA program at UNC – Chapel Hill (Go Heels!).
Since then, I’ve moved on to the business development side of things, and have realized that the skills I developed while building community and developing content have been paramount to my success in the world of biz dev.
While there’s been no shortage of articles describing community managers as the future CEOs of the world or a number of other positions, I wanted to hone in on a more natural transition and look at why great community management equals great business development.
Note: When I talk about business development, I’m referring to a role that focuses on strategic partnerships with external organizations.
Community Managers Communicate with Brevity and Clarity
When you only have 140 characters to work with on Twitter, Community Managers need to be able to effectively connect with customers in a very small window. Throw in the fact that other brands are competing for the same loyalty, you have a lot going against you.
The same goes for business development. When you’re trying to start a conversation with decision-makers at a company or organization, you are fighting for their time and interest, both of which are often limited.
Thus, the art of a short, concise email at the start is essential.
To put it simply, if your message can’t be explained or condensed to 140 characters and still deliver value, you have some work to do.
Community Managers Know and Understand Their Audience
Knowing how to be concise is only one piece of the puzzle for both community management and business development professionals. To be successful at both, you also have to understand your audience.
In community management, it’s all about, “Why would the customer care?” – that goes for either your product or just an individual post. In business development, you always have to think, “Why would this person care?” when it comes to what you’re offering to them.
Will it speak to their goals? Does it align with their core values? We’re all busy and it’s important to make the time they invest in you worthwhile.
This thought process also has to come in to play when you’re thinking about whom you want to partner with. If you do partner with a particular company, will their community care? If you know how to make the audience care in the execution of the partnership, you are setting both sides up for success. I call that a Win-Win-Win.
A Good Community Manager is a Good Quarterback (Without the Rocket Arm)
In today’s NFL, a quarterback needs to be versatile. They need to understand all 21 other players on the field, anticipate what they’re going to do, and act on those assessments whether it’s with their arm or legs.
Successful community management and business development both rely on being able to know what’s going throughout the organization at all times, and being able to act on that knowledge.
If someone has a complaint on Twitter, the community manager needs to be able to respond thoughtfully and understand what the organization, as a whole is capable of doing to solve the issue.
In business development, you need to know what you can deliver and when you can deliver your side of the deal. If you don’t know how the rest of your team operates or their capabilities, you won’t be able to negotiate confidently, or worse, will end up over-promising and under-delivering. That’s a deal-killer.
These parallels prove that success in today’s business world is dependent on effective communication and understanding, no matter the role or platform.
As I mentioned, community managers have a skill set that can be transitioned to a variety of other roles. Have you made a transition from community management? If so, what’s your new role and what have you brought over from your days as a CM?