The Scary Task Of Managing A Community Where You’re Not The Expert

It’s scary to start a new job managing a community in a topic you’re not very familiar with.

What if you say something dumb or incorrect? Members might lose respect for you and never regain it.

What if you say something which contradicts what the previous community manager said?

What if you don’t participate in exactly the right way and form the same strength of relationships as your predecessor?

You need a few things here.

First, you need a boss or mentor. You need someone who can show examples of what great participation looks like and what standards or guidelines are key. You also need a boss who encourages you to go out there, make mistakes, learn from them, and not pressure you to be perfect.

Second, you need to be honest with yourself and your members. Don’t pretend to be an expert if you’re not. When you introduce yourself to the community tell them they have far more expertise than you do and you’re hoping to learn from them and ensure the community serves their needs. When they have problems, tell them you’ll do your best to solve it.

Third, you need to see this as an opportunity. You’re in the same position (new to a topic and to a community) that countless other future members will be. This is a gift. You can see what resources people like yourself most need. You can quickly identify what things in the community could be improved for newcomers.

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