Tag Archives: community management tips

Stepping Beyond the Personal and Professional Silos of a Research Project Manager

Brit Myers is a Project Manager for the Arctic Research Consortium of the U.S. (ARCUS), a non-profit membership organization with the mission of facilitating cross-boundary Arctic knowledge, research, communication, and education. She works to enhance the ability of the highly distributed Arctic research community to connect with one another and work more effectively through collaborative research programs.

Last year I was invited by Dr. Luisa Cristini  from the Alfred Wegener Institute to co-convene a session at the American Geophysical Union (AGU) Fall Meeting.  Luisa was interested in submitting a session proposal specifically focused on issues relevant to the work of scientific project managers – a job title she and I share. Hoping to attract a larger number of abstracts to the proposed AGU session, we also agreed to reach out to the AAAS CEFP community to see if our session topic might be similar enough to their interests to warrant collaboration.  Luckily, AAAS’ Lou Woodley and another group of #CEFP17 session conveners agreed to join us in our efforts!

However, as we drafted the combined AGU session description – and during a number of other conversations that followed – there was some genuine uncertainty about where the boundaries might stand between those focused on professional development from a “Project Manager” standpoint vs. that of a “Research Community Manager.”  For anyone with a Project Management job title, it is hard to forget that Project Management is a well-established profession with an official Body of Knowledge (PMBOK) regulated through accreditation organizations like the Project Management Institute.  Alternatively, the “Research Community Manager” is viewed by the new AAAS Center for Scientific Collaboration and Community Engagement as an “emerging profession,” distinct enough from both traditional project management and/or non-scientific online community management to justify the time and attention needed to professionalize and institutionalize the role.

 

Image by Pixabay: https://www.pexels.com/photo/building-ceiling-classroom-daylight-373488/
Image by Pixabay: https://www.pexels.com/photo/building-ceiling-classroom-daylight-373488/

Continue reading Stepping Beyond the Personal and Professional Silos of a Research Project Manager

Ten networking strategies for community managers

 

Rayna Harris is a Postdoctoral Scholar at the University of California Davis. In addition to conducting neuroscience and genomics research, she works to build multi-disciplinary communities that share computational tools to solve diverse biological problems. 

One task of a scientific community manager is to facilitate the activities of a community and to create opportunities for community members to engage in productive interaction. Networking is a process we use to exchange ideas and to build relationships with individuals that share a common interest.  In previous decades, most networking was done in-person, perhaps with the exchange of a business card or elevator pitch; however, digital communication is an increasingly common way that people network (Leek 2016). Whether you are an introvert or extrovert, the goal of this blog post is to provide community managers with a few strategies for networking to build their community and facilitate the exchange of ideas and information.

Networking strategies for social media

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In this first section, I’d like to discuss strategies that a community manager can use to facilitate networking within a community through social media to help community members connect with each other, share ideas, and make scientific progress.

If you haven’t already, the best place to start is to develop an online identity or brand for your community and to set up avenues for people to communicate privately and publicly. For instance, Slack and email are great for communicating with colleagues, but Twitter and Instagram are good for sharing information within and beyond the community. Because online communication happens on multiple platforms, developing easy-to-recognize handles or hashtags will provide consistency across platforms.

If the task of generating content to share on social media seems daunting, start by sharing and promoting the work of others. Retweeting and reposting are ways to quickly share the ideas of others without requiring much time or effort. With a little more energy, you share your colleagues’ publications or work with a short summary to tell your community why you think this work is notable. If you are sharing a publication, it’s always a good idea to include a link to the original article, tag the authors’ personal social media accounts, and include an image from the manuscript to give additional insight as to why the manuscript is worth reading.

If you as the community manager are creating most of the content, it is important that the content you post reflects your community interests and not your personal views. For instance, your personal Instagram account might be filled with photos of cats and martinis, but the posts you share for your community should reflect community activities. Along those same lines, take caution when discussing “hot button” issues that are highly charged emotionally or politically. Decide whether you should engage in these discussions as a representative of your community or if your participation would be more appropriate from a personal account.

Networking strategies for event planners

Even with all the communication that happens online, in person events where people can collaborate face-to-face are critical to scientific progress. If you are a community manager, you might organize so many events that you feel you are a scientific event planner. If you find yourself organizing a lot of in-person events, here are three tips that you can use to foster networking within your community.

Often events are filled to capacity with talk and workshops, but it is important to organize activities where people can collaborate and converse casually. This could be a simple as the “hallway track”, where people have the option to opt-out of all formal activities and converse with other attendees in the hallway outside the main lecture. A slightly more formal but still casual setting would be that of a hack-a-thon or do-a-thon where people work on shared problems with minimal structure.  Finally, never under estimate the impact of organized meals where people can eat, drink, and converse without having to deal with who splits the check or deciding where to eat.

Once you have the agenda set with all the formal and informal activities in place, the next step is to help attendees get to know each other. Tracy Teal, executive director of The Carpentries, says that “introductions set the stage for learning” and are critical to the success of educational programs (Teal 2016). In the same way, I believe that introductions set the stage for building relationships, which leads to collaboration and scientific progress.  As a community manager, you will know most of the people in your community, and you can help your community members network by making introductions.

As critical as face-to-face communication is for the success of an event, never overlook the utility of online communication during events. By setting up online platforms for communication, all the attendees will be able to get the help they need in real time and will be able to stay in touch with attendees after the event or away from the main venue.

Networking strategies for event attendees

For most of this post, I have been talking about strategies that community managers can use to help their community members engage in networking. But, let’s not forget that community managers are (often) members of their own community. So, I’d like to close by sharing some strategies that community managers can use to network while attending events.

The first step is to introduce yourself and stay in touch. You likely already know many people by name, so in-person events will give you the attach names to faces. Some people are easier to communicate with in-person, so if you’ve been rubbing shoulders with someone the wrong way through email or on Slack, see if a face-to-face meeting can help you resolve your differences. Or, is there someone you are excited to collaborate with? Introduce yourself and set up a meeting to hash out your ideas at a later date.

Another excellent way to share your ideas within and outside your community is to tweet and blog about your experience. This will help you remember the highlights of the event, and it will help you develop your online identity, so it’s a win-win. My final word of advice for networking is to give a memorable presentation. Often, if you are planning the event, it’s hard to find time to also present what you are working on, but I think it’s important that your community members hear you speak from expertise.

Final thoughts

While I don’t expect any one person to simultaneously use all ten of these strategies on any given day, I think there is synergy from implementing more than one strategy at a time. For example, when I attended a conference in Argentina, the local organizers setup a WhatsApp group with themselves and the two attendees coming from North America (myself and the keynote speaker). When I saw that the keynote speaker and I were on the same international flight, I introduced myself. When she texted the local organizers that we had arrived, my phone buzzed with her message, and we were able to share an hour-long taxi ride and even had coffee before the meeting. It was a beautiful encounter that was made possible by planning and serendipity.

In this post, I provided ten tips that community managers can use when networking online and in-person. If any of these strategies (combined or in isolation) have worked or not worked for you, please share your story in the comments. Happy networking!

References

Leek, J. (2016). How to be a Modern Scientist. Leanpub. https://leanpub.com/modernscientist

Teal, T. (2016). Materials about Introductions in workshops for train the trainers https://github.com/tracykteal/instructors-introduction

 

Breaking the Ice Well, Part 2

Breaking the Ice Well, Part 2

2017 marked the first year of the AAAS Community Engagement Fellows Program (CEFP), funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The first cohort of Fellows was made up of 17 scientific community managers working with a diverse range of scientific communities. As they continue to develop their community engagement skills and apply some of the ideas and strategies from their training, the Fellows will report back on the Trellis blog, sharing their challenges, discoveries, and insights. Here, Fellows Allen Pope, Amber Budden, and Stefanie Butland and mentor Aidan Budd discuss facilitating interpersonal community interactions in person.

Photo credit: Jaymantri, https://www.pexels.com
Photo credit: Jaymantri, https://www.pexels.com

As we discussed last time, the purpose of icebreakers is to bring together a group of people (e.g., professionals, students, community members, etc.) and facilitate social cohesion for the purpose of having them start learning together, benefit from shared experiences, and collectively ‘produce’ during the course of the event. These introductory activities start building shared understanding within the group and allow the group to begin to work toward shared goals.

You’ve chosen an activity or two that suits your community and your specific situation – now what?

Continue reading Breaking the Ice Well, Part 2

Breaking the Ice Well

Breaking the Ice Well

2017 marked the first year of the AAAS Community Engagement Fellows Program (CEFP), funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The first cohort of Fellows was made up of 17 scientific community managers working with a diverse range of scientific communities. As they continue to develop their community engagement skills and apply some of the ideas and strategies from their training, the Fellows will report back on the Trellis blog, sharing their challenges, discoveries, and insights. Here, Fellows Allen Pope, Amber Budden, and Stefanie Butland and mentor Aidan Budd discuss facilitating interpersonal community interactions in person.

 

Photo credit: Wikimedia
Photo credit: Wikimedia

The purpose of icebreakers is to bring together a group of people (e.g., professionals, students, community members, etc.) and facilitate social cohesion for the purpose of having them start learning together, benefit from shared experiences, and collectively ‘produce’ during the course of the event. These introductory activities start building shared understanding within the group and allow the group to begin to work toward shared goals.

As CEFP Fellow Melissa Varga wrote: “It can be a little nerve-wracking to bring people together in person, but there are some tactics that can help people ‘break the ice.’ Icebreakers are a great way to help get everyone on the same page and get people chatting to one another. They can be silly, or they can be more structured and topically focused; the goal is to get people to introduce themselves and get comfortable.”

But, as a community manager, where do you start with implementing and designing an Icebreaker during an event?

Continue reading Breaking the Ice Well

Strategies for survival (and maybe even some success) in a newly created community manager position

In December, we wrapped up the first year of the AAAS Community Engagement Fellows Program (CEFP), funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The first cohort of Fellows was made up of 17 scientific community managers working with a diverse range of scientific communities. We’ll be recruiting for Cohort Two later this year for a start date of January 2019.

Meanwhile, we’re continuing to share reflections from the 2017 Fellows on the Trellis blog. In today’s post, Josh Knackert shares some reflections about his experience as a first time community manager. You can catch up on all posts by the Fellows here.

Posted by Josh Knackert, Outreach Specialist, UW-Madison Neuroscience Training Program

Scientific community manager positions often evolve from existing roles within an organization or are fostered by an intrepid individual, passionate for this type of work, who convinces stakeholders of its necessity and their fitness for the position.   (Here’s some great advice on how to be this intrepid individual.)  Another origin story is beginning to emerge as the benefits of scientific community managers are becoming increasingly recognized and valued–organizations are realizing a need for these positions and creating them independently of the these more organic methods.  While these newly built positions offer fantastic potential for a manager and their community, they can come with some unique challenges.  Back in January 2017, I found myself in just this situation, filling a newly established community engagement role with the IceCube Collaboration at the Wisconsin IceCube Particle Astrophysics Center (WIPAC).

What were your most successful strategies as a first time community manager? Image credit: https://pixabay.com/en/dock-feet-footwear-jetty-mat-1846008/
What were your most successful strategies as a first time community manager?
Image credit: https://pixabay.com/en/dock-feet-footwear-jetty-mat-1846008/

Continue reading Strategies for survival (and maybe even some success) in a newly created community manager position

Scheduling my way to success! Time management tips for community managers

In December, we wrapped up the first year of the AAAS Community Engagement Fellows Program (CEFP), funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The first cohort of Fellows was made up of 17 scientific community managers working with a diverse range of scientific communities. We’ll be recruiting for Cohort Two later this year for a start date of January 2019.

Meanwhile, we’re continuing to share reflections from the 2017 Fellows on the Trellis blog. In today’s post Allen Pope shares an experiment in which he tries to solve his challenges with multi-tasking. You can catch up on all posts by the Fellows here.

Allen Pope is the Executive Secretary for the International Arctic Science Committee, an international scientific organization pursuing a mission of encouraging and facilitating cooperation in all aspects of Arctic research, in all countries engaged in Arctic research and in all areas of the Arctic region. On Twitter @PopePolar and online at about.me/allenpope & iasc.info.

I started my new job running the secretariat of the International Arctic Science Committee at the beginning of 2017. In the past year, there has been a lot for me to learn, a lot for me to get up to speed on, and a lot for me to do! After wrapping up our large annual Arctic science meetingI realized that I was spending too much time responding to emails and getting small tasks done and not enough time working on longer-term projects and thinking forwards. That might be okay for a little bit, but it isn’t sustainable in the long run.

Continue reading Scheduling my way to success! Time management tips for community managers