The Uncommon Team
August 19th, 2021
Community leaders have a lot in common, like their enthusiasm for teaching and learning, and a passion for building meaningful relationships within and across communities. As community leaders, their goals are similar, but their paths to community leadership are surprisingly diverse and often surprisingly...surprising.
Our series, "The Rise of the Community Leader," celebrates these uncommon paths, the people who took them, and what they learned along the way. Want to connect with more community leaders like them? Join Uncommon.
I was a marketing and business professional in California’s tech industry. I worked and traveled a lot and ultimately just got burned out. So, I decided to take a sabbatical in my hometown in the Philippines and started organizing tech meetups there. I wanted to share what I knew about the tech industry, and was curious to meet other tech folks in my hometown. I had been away and was trying to rediscover the community there. The meetups turned into many workshops organized by volunteers. We attracted government support and sponsorship from companies seeking tech talent. Some of the volunteers became my co-founders as our TechTalks.ph community formed a non-profit organization promoting tech, startups, and design industries. Our most popular event was Geeks on a Beach, an international tech conference held at a world-class beach resort.
I’m currently a volunteer co-host for CMX Office Hours, a monthly Q&A event by community professionals for anyone interested in community. I also host mastermind groups with other community builders. Continuous learning and peer support are critical in thriving in this industry as communities are always evolving.
Since May, I have also been working on a side project of my own. After building communities for nine years, I want to help others build theirs. My goals are to 1/make it easier for folks to learn the essential community management skills for building thriving communities and 2/for companies to find effective community strategies and strategists. So, I founded Community Management Institute. To start, I’m curating lists of community management training courses, workshops, community professionals, and related info. Eventually, I'd like to organize a conference and job-matching platform to help grow the community industry ecosystem. I'm still sussing out the priority needs of this community 😉
And I’m continuing to grow my network of support from fellow community builders. It is such a joy to hang out with folks who speak your language and understand your challenges. The industry is booming and I want to focus my work on helping boost the industry. Being around community folks will help me understand the gaps and where I can help the most.
From 2020 to early 2021, I helped build the community at FemTech Focus. It's a non-profit that promotes women's health startups and innovations. The founder, Dr. Brittany Barreto, has a popular podcast, also called FemTech Focus. She wanted to organize a conference and a non-profit around the podcast. So, a mutual friend introduced us, gievn my prior experience. I was CEO/Founder of a non-profit company, and organized international conferences for 5 years.
We grew her podcast audience into a vibrant community of over 1,000 "FemFans" - women's health founders, innovators, investors, and supporters. We’ve since hosted and participated in over 50 events and workshops. And you can see the power of the community at work in the growth of the podcast. At only a year and a half old, it now has 140+ episodes, over 30,000 downloads and listeners from over 100 countries.
I loved supporting this community because the women's health industry is under-served, underfunded, and under appreciated. Only 4% of all healthcare research is dedicated to women’s health. It's a tragedy. But an amazing opportunity to do better. The women’s health global market size is estimated to value at $1.186T by 2027. There are 105 FemTech companies that exist to date with an ~$301M average exit value. Dr.Barreto recently launched a venture capital firm, Coyote Ventures, to invest in FemTech companies. I’m excited to see more impactful startups in this space.
When I started my first community, I was not thinking that it would turn into a business. So, it was a challenge for me to find the revenue model and sustainability strategies as I was growing it. For those who are just starting to build their communities, keep that possibility in mind and design features to proactively address common issues that might arise as you grow. What's the best way to do it? I'd suggest two things:
1/Uncover Best Practices - Learn from how other communities are addressing said issues now. Don't be afraid of trial and error and pivot as needed.
2/Open Communication - Develop continuous and authentic communication lines with your community. Listen and make it easy for them to co-create initiatives with you. For example, some communities instill a culture of encouraging their members to post wins/challenges regularly. This makes it easy to identify "good news" and amplify it accordingly.
Community teams will be as ubiquitous as Customer Success and Marketing teams. And universities will include courses and concentrations in Community Management, similar to how Digital Marketing is being offered everywhere today. There will likely be an industry standard certification similar to what you see for project managers and agile practitioners.
Startups will build communities from the get go, instead of after the product launches. Existing enterprises will be racing to catch up on their community strategies, or rethink how they build their businesses with community in mind. Communities are not suitable for all businesses so knowing if/when and how to have a community strategy will also be a competitive advantage.
Relationship building. Through community, I've been able to meet so many people I wouldn't have otherwise met IRL. I've learned so much and have been inspired through the 1:1 conversations and group interactions community provides. It makes me appreciate that everyone has a role in this world, including you! #BetterTogether
My first community, TechTalks.ph, grew into a non-profit organization and a national movement of volunteers promoting tech, startups, and design in the Philippines.
The Common Room team for daring to build something in this exciting and (getting to be crowded) space.
The excitement around it, and interest in it. Every business wants to build community. But they don’t always understand that it’s not easy. Community building is not plug and play, nor is it black or white. You don't buy a "community" strategy one day, and benefit from it the next day. It requires a long-term commitment and evolving, multi-faceted approaches. So I'm happy to see a concurrent increase in community job opportunities and investment in dedicated community teams, as people are realizing it's not just exciting, but crucial.
I’m excited to continue working with other community leaders to uplift and formalize industry standards so we can improve and professionalize the industry. Let's grow the industry the right way. How?
And now some fun questions we ask our Roomies when they join the team 🙂
Dancing people! 🙈
Live to Eat
Be careful what you wish for, you might just get it.
I took the quiz, and it says I’m an owl. Lol! 🦉
Greece, Ireland, Bhutan, Nepal
Thanks for sharing your story with us Tina! And it's a mutual appreciation. We've really enjoyed collaborating and can't wait to share what we're working on more broadly 😉
We're continually looking to highlight community leaders, voices, and stories—if there's someone you'd like to nominate to share theirs, let us know. See you in Uncommon!