Spend 30% of your time working internally.
That’s one or two meetings a day. Don’t waste your lunches sitting alone. Reach out to a couple of people a day and meet up with them. You can meet with more than one person at a time if you like.
Don’t ask for help, simply ask questions. What are their goals? What are their challenges? What kind of help do they need? What is their current worldview? What do they hate about their work? What do they love about their work? (tip: end meetings on a positive note by discussing the best parts of their work last).
You don’t need the answers, but you need the questions. You need to take the time to understand each of them. Most importantly, they need to know you took the time to understand them. Ask if you can sit in on their meetings sometimes.
You might be amazed what you will learn.
Building a network of allies throughout the organization isn’t technically difficult, but it takes a lot of time. But the value it provides is immense. The very best people I know in this field spend much of their time doing just this.
If others feel you have taken the time to understand them, they will be more likely to help and support you later. They can give you advice and access to their resources. They will speak positively about you to others. This does far more to get you internal support than ROI metrics.
Most people don’t do this until it’s too late. Or they begin with a request for help. Sorry, no dice.
From your very first day you have to be curious about learning more about the organization you’re in. Reach out to and ask to have a meeting to learn more about what they do. Keep it short and be respectful of their time. The results will come.
We often hear people complain that community managers work in a silo…but whose fault is that?