With the resurgence of in-person events in a “post-pandemic” world, attending conferences centered around Community is one of my absolute favorites. It’s a special world of people who work in a small and niche industry that is majorly misunderstood (”Community doesn’t bring value,”) or misclassified (”So wait, is community like… social media?”) coming together to talk about the industry that we work so hard for.
Going to Community conferences is something I make a point to prioritize, and even if my company doesn’t pay for it, is something I’d be willing to pay for with my own money. It’s unlike other conferences - there is an energy and a vibration, a sense of happiness, of excitement, and dare I say it, a true sense of Community.
Here are 5 reasons why I absolutely love Community conferences and why you should too:
1. Community content
I know this is fairly obvious, but when else do you get a concentrated dose of purely community content? Every session is about something Community - whether it’s engagement and member retention, data and reporting, cross-functional value, community programs, events, platforms and tech stack, community leadership, etc. It’s applicable content that you can take back with you and start using in your work. I’ve been to a lot of conferences, and though the number of Community-oriented sessions is increasing at conferences around marketing and customer success, having a dedicated conference where every session is for you feels like a much better money and time investment than going to a larger conference and only having a smattering of sessions on specifically Community.
2. Hidden figures
If you are in the various Community channels and Slack workspaces, you’ll see a small handful of names appear over and over - the common household names of the Community industry. They’re the stars who put out consistent content, are often sought out for guidance, and are frequently front and center in the space. One of the things I absolutely love about Community conferences is that you get to see people who are not these people. Don’t get me wrong, I love these community elders and are friends with many of them, and they do come to the conferences and often speak as well, but I love getting to hear from the hidden figures - the people who may not have a social media presence or even a huge personal brand, but are there doing the work day-in and day-out. I met some phenomenal Community Managers who I’d never heard of before who are doing amazing work, and I learned a lot from attending their sessions.
3. Inspiration and motivation
As Community builders, it’s so easy to fall into the day-to-day grind of doing the job. Our teams are often a team of one, and we’re doing everything from planning community events to daily moderation to operations and logistics. When you’re in the trenches like this, it’s sometimes hard to rise above the chaos to see a bird’s eye view and think big picture. Additionally, you get used to how your organization does things and perhaps fall into the trap of doing things because that’s how it’s always been done. When you go to a Community conference, you hear about the innovation, the success stories, how impactful other’s Communities are for their customers, and how execs support the Community, and it can break the self-imposed ceiling that you’ve been stuck under, motivating you to go back to your Community and take it to the next level, using your newly made connections as inspiration.
We live in a very virtual world. Over the last few years, I’ve made a lot of “online friends” in the Community space, through the Slack workspaces and online events. Coming together in-person, it’s so nice getting to see them - to see the rest of their body that exists below the Zoom profile window, to be able to hug them, to be able to walk and talk with them going from one session to the next. It’s also really nice to make new friends, people who, though you didn’t know them prior, have been with you and have felt the same struggles that you do in your job, who already have so much in common with you. I can say that I’ve made real friendships from attending Community conferences, people who I now see regularly who live near me, and people who I do “for fun” Zoom calls who live far away. I know people say that it can be hard to make friends as adults, but I don’t think this is the case for people who work in Community.
Attending Community conferences is truly a great way to see and hear from best-in-class community professionals. Hear about the latest trends, what programs the top echelon communities are running, and what’s next for the industry. Personally, I’ve really enjoyed hearing and learning about showing community value, ROI, and cross-functional value in a quantitative way through metrics and data. This is not only something that has been historically hard to prove but is more so becoming pivotal to prove the worth of the community. The great thing is that I’ve seen an increase in these types of sessions at Community conferences over the last few years.
Attending Community conferences is a truly special treat, and whether you are a seasoned Community pro or someone looking to learn more about best practices in Community Management, you’ll find the sessions educational and the connections you make worth the investment.
Feeling inspired and ready to look into a Community conference to attend? Look no further! I’d love to introduce you to the Community Rebellion Conference, taking place on June 12-13, 2023 in Prague, Czech Republic. With two full days of sessions from absolutely outstanding Community pros, it’s not one to miss. Register here - hope to meet you IRL there!
April 20, 2023
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