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Why Do Community Professionals Burnout?

Posted by Patrick on March 28th, 2016 in Community Careers

Why do so many online community professionals choose to leave the profession behind? Is there something about the role that makes burnout more common? An acquaintance of mine was pondering this recently. He wasn’t talking about people who are leaving for greener pastures – he was talking about those who have had enough. Here’s what I told him.

First, let’s cast aside the common causes of burnout that apply to pretty much every profession. For example, feeling like your work doesn’t matter, that you are overworked, that you aren’t adequately rewarded. Those are very common issues that can develop, no matter what your career. Instead, let’s focus on what applies to community professionals, disproportionately.

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When resources, both free and paid, crop up around an industry, it’s a net positive. It means that there is growth, to the point where businesses can be built around educating, connecting and empowering those who operate in the space – or, perhaps more commonly, those thinking about entering it.

With money, can come hype. Sometimes the people behind a resource might get a little overzealous in how they promote it. Perhaps they make it sound like it is required learning if you want to excel or that, if you don’t partake in it, you are somehow inferior.

In reality, these resources are simply a component, of many, that can help you become a better community professional. Books, college courses, conferences, certifications, memberships, training programs and workshops are simply optional components. They can help you to become great, but you are not great simply because you consume them.

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Right now, I’m interviewing for a role at a company you know. You probably have one – or many – of their products. I’m not sure it’s the role for me – I turned down the interest initially – but I decided to take the interview out of respect for a friend of mine who is going to do amazing work for them.

On the first call, I was asked that great question we all love: how much do you make now?

As an independent, self-employed professional who manages communities, and engages in writing, speaking and the tiniest bit of consulting, my income varies wildly. I have unmatched freedom to do whatever I want, whenever I want. That’s not what a role at a company represents. It’s quite the opposite. Less freedom, consistent paycheck. I’m not going to tell you what I make now.

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In 2015, I interviewed for four different jobs. I had loose discussions about a few other opportunities and turned down interest from a really big company.

None of these jobs were a fit. But I couldn’t have known that without going through the process. The fact is, after I went through the interview process for these four jobs, there was only one that I actually wanted.

It can be a real struggle to find a role that ticks off the important boxes, especially for a senior or executive-level community professional, who wants to stay in the industry. I haven’t really seen any experienced professionals in our space talk about the interviews they have gone through, for the jobs they didn’t accept – or didn’t get offered. I’m happy to share my experiences over the last 12 months.

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The Community Roundtable has released their 2015 Community Careers and Compensation (CCC) report. This is the second year that they have done so, which is great because now we can compare one year to the next and see how we have progressed (or regressed, potentially). They are releasing the best compensation study for our industry, and should be applauded for it.

After having the opportunity to read the report, I wanted to share some of the data that caught my eye – and compare it to last year, where appropriate. There’s much more in the report than what I talk about below. It’s a free must-download for community professionals.

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It feels like I’ve been talking to companies about career opportunities all year. There have been at least four distinct interviews and several loose conversations. While I may have collected a funny story or two, I haven’t found the right match.

One of the things that I’ve enjoyed, during this process, is talking about what a progressive community role looks like. What can community mean, responsibility wise, beyond the traditional idea of what community is? Because, while companies do try to shove any number of unrelated tasks under the community banner, there are some areas of responsibility where it can make perfect sense to combine the tasks under the community role and, as those tasks grow, a larger community department.

If you are looking to expand the role of community in your organization, here are four specific areas to think about.

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Community Manager in Residence

Posted by Patrick on July 27th, 2015 in Community Careers

Residence PlansEntrepreneur in residence is a role that you typically find at venture capital firms. It can take different forms. Generally speaking, this is a respected entrepreneur who is working on their next company or trying to identify their next opportunity.

It’s a short term role, where the firm provides the entrepreneur with a salary and resources, like an office and access to smart people who work at the firm. The entrepreneur in residence may help the firm by offering feedback on potential investments and lending insight to portfolio companies they have already invested in.

The arrangement is really about the firm recognizing what the entrepreneur brings to the table and wanting to back those talents financially. Either by funding the entrepreneur’s next company or by placing them with a company the firm plans to invest in.

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Money, Power & Respect by The LoxMoney, Power & Respect, the 1998 debut from The Lox, is a great album. I’ve been listening to “Let’s Start Rap Over” a lot lately. I love that record.

Advancing your career is a challenge, to say the least. It’s tough to land a new job. It may be just as daunting to go to your boss and ask for more. And yet, for many professionals, that’s exactly what is required for you to move forward.

When you are pushing upward, remember three words: money, power and respect. When I urge community professionals not to sell themselves short, it’s these three things that represent advancement. Because if it’s not about money, power and respect, it’s just words.

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