There are two types of community work. The first is consulting. This is the ability to identify what the community wants, what resources the company has, and make recommendations to match the two together.
A consultant should be able to make detailed recommendations that have the support of both the company and key community members. It’s a real skill, a lot of work and they should be well paid.
The second is the process of building a community. This is working with the company as they build a community. It’s identifying, approaching and befriending members. Launching events and activities. Developing a sense of community amongst members.
Most importantly, it’s adapting when things don’t go to plan or taking advantage of new opportunities. A community builder should take you through a trial and error process that develops your community.
If you’re looking short-term. You hire the consultant. S/he is expensive, digs deep and makes recommendations you can implement right away. It’s a bigger risk with faster results.
If you’re thinking long-term, you hire the community builder. S/he takes you through an exploratory, emergent, process to get you a community.