Launching a New Community as a New Community Manager

This past year, Ellen Bechtol launched a brand new community as a brand new community manager. In this guest post she reflects on how that went.

This past year, I had the opportunity and privilege to launch a brand new community as a brand new community manager. And I think it went reasonably well! Here’s why:

Joining a Community of Practice

The Multimessenger Diversity Network (MDN) is a community of representatives from multimessenger astrophysics research collaborations focused on increasing diversity in the field. As a community of practice (CoP), the MDN is “a group of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do, and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly” (Wenger-Trayner & Wenger-Trayner). I find it fitting that to run a CoP I joined a CoP for community managers, the Community Engagement Fellows Program (CEFP) and subsequent CSCCE CoP. Within weeks of starting in my new role as a community manager, I applied to the CEFP with a strong sense that being part of it would be crucial to successfully launching the MDN. After all, I was stepping into a new role for a new community and was feeling rather lost as to where to begin. Although much of the content from the early CEFP trainings felt out of scope for the MDN, connecting with other community managers (CMs) and getting introduced to the foundations of community management from the perspective of mature communities was unbelievably helpful. Even more helpful were continued interactions, online and at subsequent trainings, with other Fellows. The collective resource of experiences from so many CMs in so many different types of organizations has been most valuable.

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Creating core values: A new worksheet from CSCCE

In May, we published CSCCE’s core values, which were co-created with our Code of Conduct working group and participants on our May community call. In this blog post we dive a little deeper into our process, which we have made available for download in a new worksheet

Why core values? 

Successful communities have a shared purpose, but in order to convene around that purpose members need to agree on how they communicate and work together in order to ensure safer spaces and productive collaboration. By defining the core values of your community, you can get at what these collaborative norms are and set the tone for events, workshops, meetings, and other group activities. 

As part of CEFP 2019, CSCCE director Lou Woodley developed a framework for creating authentic yet aspirational core values that are tailored to a community. The participants in the fellowship cohort used the framework to explore what might be helping and hindering the realization of core values in their own communities as part of their mid-year training in leading culture change efforts. This is also the framework we followed when creating the CSCCE core values. 

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April’s Community Call Recap – How community managers can support diversity, equity, and inclusion in science

This month’s call challenged us all to think hard about creating and supporting inclusive communities, particularly virtually. Led by the CEFP 2019 DEI Project Team, we explored four topics related to this and used Zoom’s breakout room capability to give participants the opportunity to have small group discussions.

April’s community call showcased four new CSCCE tip sheets created by the CEFP 2019 DEI Project Team.
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April’s community call – Exploring diversity, equity and inclusion

Our next CSCCE Community Call is on Wednesday 22nd April at 2pm Eastern. Join us to discuss running inclusive online events and find out more about the CEFP 2019 Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Project Team’s work.

This month we’ll include a breakout style activity as well as presentations during the first hour of the call, and then a 30 minute open discussion for anyone to share their thoughts and experiences.


Join us for April’s community call on diversity, equity and inclusion considerations as a scientific community engagement manager. Image credit: CSCCE
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March’s Community Call Recap – What makes a great ambassador program?

On this month’s Community Call, two project teams from the CSCCE Community Engagement Fellows Program (CEFP) shared their research into what makes a great ambassador program and how we as scientific community engagement managers can support the members of our communities who volunteer to take part.

Ambassador Programs Slide
March’s community call focused on ambassador programs in science. Image credit: CSCCE

What is an ambassador program?

To advance the mission of the community with which they’re working, community managers often turn to ambassador programs. Also known as community champions or fellows, these more engaged users can help with beta testing, advocating for the community’s work, recruiting new members, launching specialized projects or other specific activities.

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Leveraging anniversary programming & content to nurture community

In this post by CEFP2019 Fellow Camille Santistevan, Associate Director of Public Relations at the Advanced Science Research Center at The Graduate Center, CUNY, she explores how an organization’s anniversary can be an opportunity to nurture community. Camille shares 5 tips for success and 3 potential challenges to anticipate.

Community-first event planning

Is your scientific organization celebrating an anniversary sometime soon? If so, how will you be celebrating?

In the higher education and non-profit sectors, anniversaries are often used to launch major fundraising campaigns. Central leadership, in concert with the development office, tend to spend a lot of time, energy, and resources to organize a big bash for external stakeholders, with the internal community often left as an afterthought.

The ASRC Open House event. Image credit: ASRC.

How can we re-engineer some of this content and programming to supercharge our scientific communities? Below are some ideas both big and small for how community managers can leverage anniversary activities to nurture community. 

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Congratulations to the CEFP2019 fellows on their graduation!

Last week we celebrated the conclusion of the fellowship year for the 2019 cohort of our Community Engagement Fellows Program (CEFP) – with a three-day wrap-up meeting in NYC.

The meeting was a milestone for several reasons. It was our first true hybrid CEFP meeting where we bridged between in-person and remote participation, it was our first time hosting the CEFP training outside of DC (and we loved being in NYC!) and it was the first time that we now have a clear path from fellowship participation to a broader, ongoing set of professional development programming via our new community of practice.

CEFP2019 fellows and staff in the room celebrate those joining remotely! Image credit: CSCCE
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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, CSCCE’s 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 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/

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Ten networking strategies for community managers

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. In this post CEFP2019 Fellow, Rayna Harris shares ten networking strategies for community managers.

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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Building Trust in Online Communities

In the second of our series of posts by the 2019 Community Engagement Fellows, Julianna Mullen walks us through her experiences building trust in an online community and sparking conversations in an authentic way.

It had been the first bullet point in the job description: “Increase community engagement.”….The Community Manager for The Ocean Acidification Information Exchange would be in charge of getting its member scientists, policymakers, and educators talking to one another about preparing and adapting to ocean acidification.

I’d been a scientist and communicator for some time, but I’d never been a Community Manager; when I accepted the post, I knew the learning curve would be steep, but I was excited! Fast-forward into Month Two of my employment, when I’d made a series of important discoveries:

  1. The OA Information Exchange was so quiet I could almost hear the crickets when I logged on.
  2. Using the phrase “increasing engagement” to describe the breadth, scope, and complicatedness of my work was like calling the Encyclopedia Britannica “some books.”
  3. I couldn’t rely on researching myself out of the hole because there simply wasn’t much material that spoke to what I was trying to do.
  4. I’d failed to understand that an online community, even one comprised of scientists and policymakers working on something as technical as ocean acidification, needs the same kind of emotional tending as in-person communities.

In a blind panic, I reached out to some members I knew personally and asked what was going on. What was the holdup?

“I don’t want to waste anyone’s time with my stupid questions.”

“I don’t think I have anything to contribute.”

“I’m worried people will think I’m unintelligent.”

Sound familiar?

Julianna Mullen, Communications and Community Manager, NERACOOS
Julianna Mullen, Communications and Community Manager, NERACOOS

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