Conferences for Community Managers in 2019

Chairs in a conference room

As per every job, it’s important to be part of a network of like minded and professionals with similar skills. What are the conferences for community managers, leaders and builders worthwhile attending in 2019?

** Note: this is a work-in-progress post, with new events added over time. Last update June 3rd **

Confirmed events

FOSDEM Community DevRoomFebruary 3, Brussels, Belgium: Every year, thousands of developers of free and open source software from all over the world gather at the event in Brussels. This year I was part of the Program Committee ;)

DevRelCon Tokyo, March 9, Tokyo, Japan: a conference about developer relations, developer experience, developer community, APIs and developer marketing. Part of the DevRelCon circuit.

DevRelCon San Francisco, June 6 and 7, San Francisco, California: This is THE annual San Francisco Bay area conference for Developer Relations and Developer Experience practioners! This is the conference where you can meet and learn from your community of dev advocates, community managers, team managers, dev marketers, and people in many roles that share DevRel and DX responsibilities in support, docs, engineering, product, partner engineering, BD, marketing, customer success, and more. Part of the DevRelCon circuit.

Swarm Conference, August 20-21, Sydney, Australia: Founded in 2011, Australia’s flagship community management conference connects local builders, thinkers, managers and makers with top international talent for two days of learning, collaboration, inspiration and outcomes.

CMX Summit, September 5-6, Redwood City, California: Over 2 days, CMX Summit seeks to expand discussions, techniques, and tactics applied to community building for businesses and support communities and their CEOs, CMOs, and builders at scale. (That’s you!) You’ll gain insights from the best in the industry and make lifelong friends

TheCR Connect, September 23-25, Boston, MA: TheCR Connect is exclusively for community practitioners – those engaged in the development, implementation, management, and measurement of community initiatives. You might be a community manager for a 5,000 person internal community, the community specialist at a start-up, or the director of community for a Fortune 500 brand. TheCR Connect is a vendor-free event to ensure that open conversations can happen between community practitioners.

DevRelCon London, December 10-11, London, United Kingdom: The fifth edition of DevRelCon London focuses on how developer relations, developer marketing, community management, and developer experience can learn from each other and from other disciplines. Part of the DevRelCon circuit.

Are you Italian?

If you’re a community manager, living in Italy, join the Italian Community Managers group, as we organize several event across the year, included 1 main conferences in Milan on November 15th, to discuss about these topics.

Other resources

There is also a list of upcoming DevRel-related events maintained by Mary, with big conferences and smaller meetups. And DevRel often crosses with community management, you know ;)

Any other important occasion missing in this list?

Blog winter cleaning

I started this blog somewhere between 2005 and 2006, when the blogosphere movement spread in Italy. It was a space to wrote about my unfiltered thoughts in random order, to remember my vacation places, to share my discoveries as developer and GNU/Linux lover, to narrate the story of the first Italian conference about mobile development (the unforgettable WhyMCA), to sparkle what has been born as CLSxItaly and now is the Italian Community Manager Summit, the only Italian event for community managers, builders and professionals; to calm down from everyday rants, to talk about community management and much, much, more.
I’ve started with Joomla, then moved to WordPress. I used Italian, and then switched to English.

In short, over 12+ years, this blog has became a wonderful example of creative chaos, reflecting pretty much accurately these 12 years of my life. And I’m proud of it!

Today, I decided to clean-up things. I moved the majority of the old content on a separate archive, rainbowbreezearchive.wordpress.com, leaving here only English content and redirecting to the archive the top visited Italian posts of 2018 (thanks to Redirection plugin).
I’ll also talk more about community management and team management, as these two topics are the ones feeding my passions (and my job) nowadays.

Continue reading “Blog winter cleaning”

The Community Canvas for GDG

GDG Community Canvas

When a community movement is worldwide spread, like Google Developers Group is, maintain a good balance between a common identity and local differences is essential keep the “sense of belonging” among the chapter leads, while leaving them the freedom to be successful interpreting the local context. But what defines that common identity? I created a GDG Community Canvas to explore and understand that.

The Community Canvas by Fabian Pfortmüller is, for a community, what the Business Model Canvas is for a company. While the latter is a visual chart with elements describing a firm’s or product’s value proposition, infrastructure, customers, and finances (Wikipedia), the former is a framework to describe the underlying structure of a community, focussed on 3 main section: Identity, Experience and Structure. More info in the Community Canvas site, alongside with very useful guidebooks to understand each section and questions to drive its creation.

The process

Similar to the Community Commitment Curve exercise, I’ve asked to 70+ GDG leads to create their own Community Canvas, to check if a common picture about what a GDG is would have emerged and, if yes, what it would have been. In short: yes, there is one, and it’s very well defined!

We did the exercise during the annual community summits and, because defining the whole canvas could be overwhelming, we used a short version of it, called the Community Canvas MVC (Minimum Viable Community), still by Fabian, and working only on the “Identity” part, the most useful to provide an answer to my assumption.

The benefits of running such exercise in person with the community leads were multiple: first, it was an introspective journey they took, together, to better understand the reasons they do what they do. Gather around the same table younger and more experienced leads, to share and reflect about one passion that connected them all (they were there because they all run a GDG), fostered a stronger Sense of Community. Finally, it wasn’t Google telling them what a GDGs should be, they told each other, and based on their experiences.

We used simple design thinking techniques to co-create the GDG Community Canvas: first, we invited the leads to reflect about one of the element of the identity section, individually. Then, in group of four, they shared their learnings and discussed. Finally, they wrote down the main points on a template I provided them, to group all the thoughts emerged. We iterated for each of the identity section element: purpose, audience, values, goals. Finally, I went thru the findings, doing a little bit of summarizing. The whole exercise, in total, took a couple of hours.

The result

The follow maps describe what a Google Developer Group should be, and I pretty much agree with it.

Purpose: GDGs exist because they are local platforms for peer-to-peer sharing and learning of tech knowledge, expertise and ideas, for everyone and without discrimination. They create a space to socialise and get together with likeminded people interested in tech, enabling personal and career growth. They also aim to increase diversity in tech, creating a welcoming and safe environment. All with fun.

Audience: GDGs are for tech professionals with different level of expertise, interested in learning and sharing about Google technologies, and in giving back to the community. They’re also open to students, tech entrepreneurs and, in general, to all the people working with developers and / or with a technical background or passion about technologies. They host audiences of different ages and people close in terms of geographic location. They also welcome people interested in diversity and inclusion topics in the tech ecosystem.

Values: the most recurring values of GDG communities are about a social, technological and cultural inclusiveness, a continuous learning attitude of the members paired with a love for new technologies and a culture of sharing, a desire for personal growth, all enclosed in mutual respect and support. Diversity is present in many dimensions, from members background to knowledge level, including reasons to be part of the community to technologies, all to create a psychologically safe environment for everyone.
I particularly liked one of the point made: “learn, earn, serve”.

Goals: most common success factors for GDGs are the positive feedback from satisfied community members about the activity organized, the ability to share in an efficient and effective way knowledge and positive values of the community, being recognized as a valuable community and the reference point for Google technologies in the local ecosystem. Also the “creation factor” was mentioned: in term of new projects and ideas, community contribution to technologies: bugs, pull requests, feedback, etc. Success is also defined by more diversity in the event attendees, in term of gender and cultural background.
One group mentioned the increase of Community ROI, seen as Return of Interest, in term of more attendees to the events, more retention among attendees and more bonding capital among members.

Here the detailed results.

Next steps

It would be great to run the GDG Community Canvas exercise across different cultures, as my cohort was mostly from Europe. I suspect main points will be the same, with some interesting secondary differences. In addition, I left to the leads the pleasure of filling the other two sections (Experience and Structure) once home, with the rest of their community core groups, but it would have been interesting to go thru the whole canvas together. Nevertheless, several told me they’ve done, and it was very useful to better shape and share their idea of community and align their minds.

And you, GDG member or lead reading this article, do you find yourself and your community in this canvas? Please let me know, as I’m interested in every single feedback!

Team management practical wisdom, Codemotion Milan

Being a team manager is a big responsibility, regardless of team size. What are the best practices to make the most out of this role? Where and how management and leadership converge? How to manage difficult moments and decisions? A brief history about what I have learned, errors included, with an eye to technical teams.

Slides

(Codemotion Milan, 29 November 2018)

Strategies to increase community members involvement, ICM Summit

A recurring problem of every community manager is to keep community members involved with the community. During this talk I spoke about the Community Commitment Curve, a tool to identify a path of optimal engagement, composed by small progressive requests, helping members to be more and more active within the community. They were also concrete examples of the Curve, for online and offline communities.

(Talk in Italian)

(I

(Italian Community Managers Summit Rome, 10 November 2018)

The Community Commitment Curve for in-person communities

Community Commitment Curve

The Community Commitment Curve offers members a clear and progressive engagement journey in the community, from a total stranger position to a community organizer role (or other key roles). The concept is not new to community professionals, and it was described for the first time in 2012 by Douglas Atkin. If you want to know more, Carrie Melissa wrote a good article on it. For the Italian audience listening, Caterina Manzi from AirBnb also mentioned it during a talk at the Italian Community Managers Summit in 2018. It was interesting to see, compared to the original curve carved by Douglas, how much it has been improved and redefined over time.

Why the community commitment curve works

The whole community commitment curve idea is based on the fact that personal investment is an important contributor for the development of the Sense of Community, both for the “membership” and for the “shared emotional connection” aspects of it. People who donate more time and energy to an association will be more emotionally involved (remember, community is all about emotions). This social evidence opposes to what a newcomer can often find in a community environment: warm and welcoming people, useful content, but not clear call to action on how to contribute back to the community. It is not uncommon the only communicated message at in-person community events is “Help us to organize the next event”: clearly an overwhelming call for a person that just joined, or young members of the group.

The community commitment curve defines progressive, balanced asks community managers can make to their members, to keep them engaged and proactive, through a commitment journey composed by 4 main phases: discover, onboard, engage, lead.

Every ask is built on top of previous asks. And every task has an effort connected to its accomplishment. Of course, “invite / bring people at the event (engaging, effort 1)” requires, in absolute terms, an effort way bigger than “register for a community event (discovering, effort 2)”, but once a member is at the beginning of the engaging phase and has already actively advocated for the community, bring people at an event is a very natural follow-up step, and the personal perception of its effort is very low. This is the very core of the curve: makes “everything perceived easy” for member engaged with the community, while giving community managers a reproducible way to achieve this.
And this is also the reason effort “resets” at every phase.

The focus of a Community Commitment Curve

Every community is unique in its own way but, luckily, an initial community commitment curve can be drawn for communities sharing similar model and goals. Then it can be customized with unique aspects and rituals of the specific group. Giving my current job, supporting in-person dev communities interested in Google technologies across Europe, my focus was to find a curve for this kind of communities. And I did not alone, but asking to my Italian GDG community leaders to co-create, collectively, the curve, during the annual event we held with them.

Community Commitment Curve for in-person (offline) communities

Here a Community Commitment Curve for an in-person community, with the main objective to organize physical meetups and events around tech topics. The effort is on a scale from 1 to 3, where 1 is a very and 3 is the hardest.

Community Commitment Curve for in-person (offline) communities

The picture doesn’t have the best readability, so a spreadsheet with all the steps and the list also follows.

Discovering

  • Visit the community website landing page / social channel (effort 1)
  • Like a post on the community social channel (effort 1)
  • Search for the next community event (effort 1)
  • Send an info request about the community (effort 2)
  • Comment on community social channel or tag the community (effort 2)
  • Subscribe to the community social channel providing passive engagement, like Facebook, Twitter, etc (effort 2)
  • Register to a community event (effort 2)
  • Attend a community event for the first time (effort 3)

Onboarding

  • Stay and interact at the end of the event (free chats, aperitif, networking moment, etc, but without leaving the venue) (effort 1)
  • Leave feeback on a community event attended for the first time
  • Subscribe to the community channel providing active notifications to stay updated on future events and community news (Meetup.com, maling list, IM group chat, etc) (effort 1)
  • Collect community identity symbols (t-shirts, pins, stickers etc) (effort 1)
  • Spontaneous social media activity during the event about it (live tweet, sharing slides and thoughts etc) (effort 2)
  • Provide a feedback about the attended event (effort 2)
  • Help with the event logistics by chance (moving chair before / after the event, clean-up tables and venue, etc) (effort 2)
  • “Wear” community identity symbols (attach a stickers, wear a tshirt, etc) (effort 2)
  • Take active part to online discussion on community social channel after the event (effort 2)
  • Attend a community event for the second/third time (effort 3)
  • Propose topics for next community events (effort 3)
  • Attend an in-person social event after the meeting (dinner, free chats, etc, and outside of the venue) (effort 3)

Engaging

  • Refer the community / next events to peers (effort 1)
  • Invite / bring additional people during events (effort 1)
  • Suggest / connect with a potential speaker (effort 1)
  • Suggest / connect with a potential sponsor (effort 1)
  • Be a good source feedback (events execution, onboarding experience, social presence, image of the community during the events, etc) (effort 2)
  • Proactively offer help for event duties (attendees check-in, venue setup and tear down, move mics for questions, etc) (effort 2)
  • Consistently produce event follow-up (blogpost, recap, friction logs, etc) (effort 2)
  • Propose a talk for an event (effort 2)
  • Active contribution to a community side project (code projects, etc) (effort 2)
  • Help representing the community during broader events (booth at conferences, fairs, etc) (effort 3)
  • Promote events on social / real life (effort 3)
  • Curate the full social presence during events (effort 3)
  • Attend community events on regular basis (effort 3)
  • Proactive help with event logistic (venue setting, gadget distribution, speaker support etc) (effort 3)
  • Speak during an event (effort 3)
  • Introduce the community at the beginning of the event (effort 3)
  • Arrive at the events earlier to help with logistic (shop for the food for the networking part, visit and check the venue days before the event, etc) (effort 3)
  • Attend one or more core-org team meetings (effort 3)

Leading

  • Constantly finding speakers for events (effort 1)
  • Scout for new venues and make all the arrangements needed to run even there (effort 1)
  • Take care of the with audio / video task (effort 1)
  • Welcome speakers before the even and be their point of contact (effort 1)
  • Present the community to other community events (effort 2)
  • Help community in tasks required to sustain itself (site, analysis etc) (effort 2)
  • Lead the community social strategy (effort 2)
  • Propose and execute community improvement actions (greet new members, implement new features etc) (effort 2)
  • Be responsible for the full organization of one or more events (effort 2)
  • Be the point of contact between the community and the main sponsors (effort 2)
  • Co-define the community strategy and plans (effort 2)
  • Take care of transition from Onboarding to Engaging for new potential community leaders (effort 2)
  • Accept the co-organizer role (effort 3)
  • Identify and onboard new co-organizers (effort 3)
  • Lead the community governance in the co-organizers group (effort 3)
  • Step-up as the main community organizer (effort 3)

Next steps

The curve lacks with Carrie Melissa defined as emotional involvement, another parameter to consider together with the effort, to make the transitions between tasks even smoother. And no curve is perfect, of course, so I’ll integrate additional feedback over time. What’s yours? Do you think some tasks is missing? Please let me know and, in the meantime, feel free to use the Curve for your communities!

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash