You're at a cocktail party. Somebody you don't know asks what you do for a living.
What do you say?
Love this question. I never have an appropriate answer. Varies from "Im your digital party host" to "I manage an associations private online community to increase retention, member value, and collect data. aka big brother". I would love to have better verbiage so I don't undermine myself or freak people out. :D
I tell lay people that I manage online discussion boards for an association. In my experience, most people know the term discussion board while fewer are familiar with the term online community.
So I usually stick with: "It's kind of like Reddit for our members."
I read a blog from David Spinks about this recently. Its more about describing to the c-suite what we do in a business capacity, but it speaks to the deeper "soul searching" community managers are doing as our profession matures and we take on more integral roles within our organizations.
From the article: "It’s an interesting thing to think about. What is the brand of a professional industry? And can you define the brand for an entire industry?"
I don't know the answers to David's questions, but this thread is a great start. If we can describe and define our jobs for ourselves, then we're a step closer to better clarifying the role of our industry as a whole.
Lindsay, at my old association, the Outreach Manager had us try to do the same thing, using only the ten hundred most used words. It's so difficult! Needless to say, "private," "community," "forum" and "online" are not among that list. Try it out!
Here's what I came up with:
I help people find other people with the same interests by having them talk in the same place - but not in a room or even the same building or country sometimes! Everyone is sitting in front of their computers at different times of the day and writing questions and comments on a virtual "wall."
I cheated, because "virtual" wasn't one of the words I could use. But honestly ... how do you explain an online discussion forum if you can't even use the word "chat?"
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