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When and How to Bring on Support for Your Community

Posted Sep 26, 2023 | Views 330
# How To
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Bri Leever
Bri Leever
Bri Leever
Community Builder @ Ember

Bri Leever has been formally designing, leading, and growing communities in-person and virtually for over seven years, but she grew up in a bed and breakfast, so community and events have always been a part of her life. She got her start building a community for a social enterprise named Sseko she launched and grew a community of “Fellows” who drive millions of dollars in sales annually for the brand.

Now, she partners with purposeful brands to help them transition from being product-led to community-led by crafting a community framework to activate their top customers. She splits her time between Portland, OR and Hawaii Island and you’ll usually find her in the mountains or in the water in her free time.

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Bri Leever has been formally designing, leading, and growing communities in-person and virtually for over seven years, but she grew up in a bed and breakfast, so community and events have always been a part of her life. She got her start building a community for a social enterprise named Sseko she launched and grew a community of “Fellows” who drive millions of dollars in sales annually for the brand.

Now, she partners with purposeful brands to help them transition from being product-led to community-led by crafting a community framework to activate their top customers. She splits her time between Portland, OR and Hawaii Island and you’ll usually find her in the mountains or in the water in her free time.

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A discussion with Bri Leever on the world of community consultants to decide if, when, and how to bring on support to unlock the untapped potential of your community:

  • The benefits of bringing on support
  • Who should bring on a consultant and when
  • The different ways you can leverage your support team
  • Where to find the right consultant, coach, or support team member(s)
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Thank you so much for joining for this conversation as well. We're talking when, when and how should we bring in support for communities. And I appreciate you carving out the time for us to have have this conversation. Yeah. Excited to be here. This is a little bit of a departure from my normal talks and workshops, but the more I dug into it, the more excited I was to talk about it.

Yeah, I think that was the when, when we were brainstorming topics of the what is what is the world need and how to how to bring people on. And I know we've had a handful of conversations with partners and customers that they're marinating on this topic of. I feel like I need help and I don't know what help I need or it seems to foreign to me.

But before we dive in too much would love to give the quick blurb of your background. I think you've been on both sides of this equation, which uniquely qualifies you to talk about it and have this conversation. Tell us a little bit about about yourself and kind of your background in that community space. Yeah, So I started my community building journey when I first graduated from school and ended up in a position where I was tasked with launching and growing a very robust ambassador community.

And I did that for six years. And during that time I didn't know how to find support. And so really and truly was like fairly on my own for three years before myself and the founders were kind of identifying places where I could have mentors and coaches. And there's a world of resources that we had no idea about.

So I know exactly what it's like to be stuck in that unconscious incompetence that you don't know, what you don't know. And I hope I think a big piece of what I'm going to share is going to help people get unstuck from that place. Then about three years ago, I started my own consulting practice to partner with brands creators to launch their community.

And so I've been on the other side of being the person who comes in to support, to help. I've worked with coaches, I've done all the DIY things that you can do, so I have a spectrum of experience for myself, what I've chosen to do as well as how I've chosen to help others. And I'm excited to kind of talk through all the different options.

Yeah, I think you're experienced too, As we talked about, this gives you a unique perspective to all the different permutations of what help can look like and that maybe that's a good place to start. I know you have kind of a a framework because we were talking about, okay, what's our entry point into this conversation? And you talk about, you know, the competence spectrum of unconscious incompetence, conscious incompetence, guessing people are probably on that end, but maybe being able to self analyze is a good, good place to start.

So why don't you you share that that kind of walk up and framework? Yeah, I'd love to. So just to paint the set, the contexts, if you're truly entering into the community building journey, like not knowing what you don't know, it's really difficult to just jump in to like, Oh, well, here's what you do need to know. It's it's difficult to always tease that out.

So I wanted to approach it from a unique angle and look at as a community builder, what are your strengths? Because that's going to clue us in to where some of your blind spots are likely sitting and how you should pursue support moving forward. So have a has in slides just to help express these

different archetypes. For community builders, this is something that I've actually created, like this little fun quiz.

I'll comment with it in case it's helpful, but I've identified these three different personas or archetypes within the community building space, and this is pulled from a lot of different like it's kind of a enmeshment of different personality types into Bree's own concoction. But generally I found people will fall into one of these three buckets, and usually there's a combination, but usually they identify as the visionary, kind of the big dreamer of the group, the host.

So you are the connector. You make people feel warm and invited, or the confidant, which tends to be a little bit more of like the protector or the guardian of the community. And they're super good at building trust. So one would start with some of their strengths the vision, the visionary. You are like the idea machine, you are strategic, you're thinking about the big picture.

You probably love thinking about like your community community as a part of your greater like brand ecosystem, or if it's like a community business that you're running, you love thinking about the greater community centered business model and you're great. It probably great generating content as well. Your superpower is that long term vision and you tend to be like this gravitational energetic pull for that community.

So keeping you out front is really important because it's going to draw people in the confidant. On the other hand, this is one that I deeply resonate with. Trust is your superpower. So you it's you are really committed to building effective systems and kind of protecting the community and keeping everything moving forward. You might be behind the scenes a lot of the time, enjoying some of that operational work, getting things streamlined, rather than you'd rather be crafting the plan than setting the vision.

So you're the one where somebody is like, Here's this big, beautiful idea. You're like, Oh my God, here's all the things that that's going to take to have to execute. You're like, and you're like, Oh, we have to protect these people and make sure that they're taking care of it. You're probably like your pulse starts to like, go a little bit, a little bit faster.

When the visionary takes off. So every good visionary has like a good confidant who's actually making it happen. I don't know how to say that. So that's you. I've been there. I know exactly how that feels. And then we have our host who is warm and has this superpower of connection. So you exude warmth and have this natural ability to connect people to each other in your community.

And this is really like such a keystone of community building. I always love like when I have a primary community builder who is a host, they have just this fabulous foundation in their skill set to already be able to connect to each other and facilitate community building. So this person is especially fabulous in the onboarding experience, but I won't go too much further into that if you're like, Oh, I'm not quite sure what I am.

This is just like a fun, silly quiz that I made, but it has little recommendations for each one based on what you resonate with whoever you are, whatever archetype you identify in, you are probably a small, if not single team of one on the on your community team and your greatest strengths. What we just covered also do produce some of your greatest blindspots.

Awesome. Christopher I'd love to know if any of those resonate with you and who you think you might be, where your strengths might be. So now that we know, okay, this is my strengths, let's move in to what the area of weakness might be for that archetype and the type of support that you should pursue. Oh, but real quick, protect.

So I wanted to recommend like the the spectrum and identify where we're going to be zeroing in in this talk. So there's a spectrum of support all the way on the far end. You have super DIY, like you're putting in a ton of effort and getting in. You're building skills yourself to become a better community builder. We're focusing for the purposes of this talk.

We're focusing more on this side of the spectrum. On the far right hand side, you have you're just hiring out for someone to take over. You're like, this is just not an area of strength. I need to hire someone. I can trust you to do it. And then the middle you have kind of the fast track of the DIY, but not quite hired.

You're not quite outsourcing something, but you're consulting with someone either strategically to help improve your own skills or you're consulting with someone who might take on some of the load of the work, but you're ultimately still accountable for it. Okay, so we're focusing like somewhere over here on this side. There's tons of great DIY options too. But comment if you want me to follow up with those later.

So the visionary needs ultimately an operational community manager. If you resonate with that big being that big idea person, you need someone who can go in and set things up, who can remember to follow up with people who can set up all the events the calendar invites, posting like scheduling posts, checking in on the community. That's that's what you ultimately need to hire for either in.

But it doesn't have to be in like a full time capacity. So we're going to talk more about the different options for operational community management. And a really popular one more recently has been fractional community management. But this would be where your need lies. Oh awesome. Took a test. Confident. Oh, I get you. Like this whole level. We're like, gonna protect these people.

Oh, cool. Okay, awesome. Lots of confidence here. So this is for us. The confidant needs a strategic community consultant. So what I've noticed about us confidence is we tend to because we're so focused on the how, we tend to sometimes limit the big ideas or the new expansion that could come. And so our communities can tend to get a little bit stagnant because we're we're worried about how exactly to operationalize everything.

So I like myself to partner with a consultant, someone who can pull me out and help me see strategically the vision for moving forward and give me new ideas and ways to move forward. Some options for this. You could consult like one on one with someone, or you could have a specific outcome like, Hey, our per event attendance is just like really not going well in our community.

We need to bring on a consultant who can specifically help with this desired outcome. And the consultants will often have packages designed to help move towards that outcome. And the other recommendation for this and where to find support for the component is a coach. So sometimes having someone one on one who can reflect back to you, I have found personally that to be immensely helpful, and especially a coach who's in the community building space can be very helpful.

I find I have to be my own person saying, But what if it wasn't hard and we could do it? Absolutely. Yeah. The hardest part is being a team of one and having to step into other archetypes. Definitely. Christopher I feel that. I feel that myself. Okay, so let's keep moving forward here. The host They need a coach.

So the host greatest obstacle that I've witnessed over the years is that they tend to, they tend to ignore their own boundaries and needs for the sake of the group, and they often need someone who's helping them reflect back on how they are managing the community and kind of keeping them a little bit in check. So having someone who can help guide you towards your identified goal, someone who can mirror and reflect back to you and give you frameworks to think about problems from a new perspective.

Again, the confidant can can benefit from this too, but I found that the host really benefits from having a coach role. So if if you resonate with any of this, like we're going to talk more, we're going to have more of like a conversation style, me and Kyle about, you know, how and when to get support and what that looks like for me in the past.

But if you're looking at this and you're like, yes, I resonate with this, I really could use a consultant or a coach or this specific pesky problem. I'm going to drop a survey, a link to a

survey just so that if you do want follow up on like here are some recommended places, there's quite an array of places to find consultants, coaches and, and even those operational community managers.

Oh, that was the one thing I wanted to dive into a bit deeper with the operational community manager. It's really common for small community teams to need that access to someone who can operationally go in and manage the community but not have the funds or even the need, the capacity of someone who would be salaried. So a new role has really well, I don't know that it's new, but for me it's it's appeared to be like more growing in popularity.

A role that has popped up is the fractional community manager. And this is someone who has more years of experience in community management and leadership. They know how to not just execute the tasks, but they can also bring a level of strategy and insight into growing your community. But you're not having to pay them a full time salaried position so they might work with 2 to 3 communities at a time doing both the management but also having that background and experience to do more than just execution of tasks.

So especially if you're looking for that, I have a list of fractional community managers that I keep updated on people who are like accepting that work. So if you're in a community role right now and you're like, Oh, we would love to hire for something like that, please follow this survey because I'm happy to. When you have the role ready, I'm happy to blast it out to my list of committee managers.

And Kyle, I know you all have some resources as well. I'd like people to recommend and list, so we will collaborate whenever somebody fills out this survey on like what to what advice and what direction to send you. So I'm going to comment with that here. But Kyle, anything that I didn't touch on in there that you wanted me to expand on?

I don't think so. One of the I think one of the things that we talked about, too, is and this gets into the like how or myths or maybe how to get started is that it doesn't have to be an all or nothing for for those types of roles. It could be just part of the work that you're looking for is like a trail to get into.

Yeah, definitely. Yeah, that's it's actually one of my favorite. If I don't really have much desire to work for anyone full time anymore. But if I ever did, the way that I would go about it is to start on with contract work. So contract work tends to be whether whether you're hiring someone, you're looking for a full time role or you just know that you need like this, the small scope of work to be executed, bringing someone on for a limited time frame so that you can test out the work experience is a fabulous approach to hiring because that onboarding costs of hiring an entire new person are huge.

But when you kind of structure your work contracts in more of a more of a contract basis, you're going to set yourself up for way less onboarding costs in the long run. And I think D d risk that. One of the things we've observed in in our work too is that the community manager hiring for that role is can be very, very public and externally facing.

So you're hiring a persona that's going to represent you, your brand, your community potentially, and that's a big deal as high risk. Yeah, definitely. So we've we've decided that we we understand who we are. We understand the kind of help that we need. We What are some of the mistakes that you've seen in in hiring or identifying and trying to find out the partnership with someone or.

Yeah, Yeah. Well, yeah, I'll leave it at that. What are some of the mistakes? Yeah. Yeah. So the number one mistake that I've, I've made and that I see other people making is hiring someone to do things that you haven't yet mastered in your community and specifically around marketing and growth of your community. So what I recommend if you are a team of one and you're leading your community, hire for tasks that you are already feel confident in and not that you are not that you're like, That's your skill set.

Like, if you know how to set up an event, it doesn't mean that like you're operationally always supposed to be the one doing that, but don't hire for things that are still so ambiguous and mysterious. So for example, like my community isn't growing, so I'm going to hire someone who can help solve that mystery. That's your job. You have to figure out how to grow the community, Bring on a consultant who can help tease that out and help you discover how to grow your community.

But I often see people the two big mysteries that we're always trying to solve. I don't care what you're talking about, it's always going to lead back to these two things how to grow your community and how to grow engagement in your community. So don't think like, Oh, this is just a big like this is just a big mystery that can be solved if I hire someone this, that those are those two things.

Growing your community and growing engagement are an ever evolving mystery that you as the go to person in the community, have to be responsible for. So don't hire out. Bring someone in to help advise. But don't just don't just push that to somebody else because it's not going to actually work. What in your experience, why is that? Why do you find that to be the case?

What what about that relationship? Because I think I've had that experience and my own reasons, but I'd be curious to know kind of why, why that would be the approach you'd recommend. Yeah, well, ultimately I think we do that because we're lazy and scared and we don't want it to be quite so hard, but it's that is like the job of the person leading the community, like to grow it and to grow in engagement.

And so of course, like bring on people to help tease out the mystery and to like, gain traction and move forward. But you can't completely outsource that responsibility. It's like it's like starting a company and then thing there, you're like, Oh, this is actually like, this is like a lot. I'm just going to, like, hire a CEO who can do it for me, you know?

And if you not, I'm curious what, in your experience, what that was like for you? I think it is the uncertainty that when the philosophy will take is when I have a nice kind of package of of tasks and responsibilities that have some solidity to them that can be handed off because I can effectively I'm thinking about in a scenario where I'm probably managing or responsible for the output, an execution of whatever that is.

I need to know enough to be able to coach and guide if it's a complete blank slate that makes it really hard and there's a lot of risk there as opposed to hiring a consultant that maybe that does turn and maybe it's a the growth strategy. That doesn't mean I can't hire someone to do social to do outreach and engagement tactical components, but I can't wholesale hire to replace the the entire component of growth or engagement.

I think I agree. Yes. Yes. And you'll notice, like of those three archetypes, the only one that I recommended, a hiring was for the visionary. So for the person who like is always thinking about the strategy and the high level vision and like where this is going and like which strategy is going to be most effective. Yes. Hire for someone tactically who can do the execution so that you can keep going.

And for those of us who maybe struggled to get into that, like high level strategy and to know how to experiment and figure out what's working, bring in a consultant or a coach who can help give you a new perspective, ask you questions, challenge you in new ways so that you are discovering that yourself. And then you can hire someone to take on the tactical work.

But I love I love what you said. Good tile. Other mistakes people make. Yeah, so but definitely not setting clear expectations. And that doesn't always have to happen before you hire someone. So I want to like I want to kind of set some boundaries around this. I think it's totally okay to enter into a relationship with a coach or consultant and be in this state of unconscious incompetence.

You're like, I don't know what's going on, but I am stuck and I need help and I trust you for X, Y, and Z reasons. During one of your first or second sessions, I highly recommend you still identify what is the goal and expectation for these sessions. So you do have to you have to establish that goal and expectation of where you are headed.

At some point. It just it doesn't always have to be you don't have to go into every relationship or every work relationship with that crystal clear understanding, because oftentimes whatever expectation you have going into it probably isn't actually getting to the root of the problem. And by the nature of partnering with that person, you're going to extrapolate on what the real problem is.

So setting those clear expectations, whether for the contract or right in the beginning as part of the process and setting a really clear timeline and payment, I always like to put a timeline around things have an end date in mind, especially when you are I mean, honestly, for any any of these roles, whether it's the fictional community manager, the consultant or the coach, I would like start with an end date so that at that you can assess was this effective?

Did it move us from point A to point B like we expected? And if not, what was what was valuable? Because then you can assess, do I want to move forward? It's part of why I like long term hiring is so it's so tricky to me. Like I can't believe we all do it so much because I'm like, we are.

We're all like, change it. We are changing humans and our problems are changing and evolving. So the more that you have the flexibility of an end date where you can assess, like take advantage of that and don't don't let it take advantage of all the value that you get from that. And yeah, Christopher, I like your question on how do you recommend making a case for paying consult with low budgets?

And our questions aren't necessarily in order. We can either save that because we are going to I think we're going to get into that a little bit when we talk about kind of when is the right time or ways to bring people on, that's all or nothing. But we can we can jump into that now if you want to.

Yeah, I'd like to jump into it. So Christopher took the question. So generally there's a couple options when you're working with consultants and it depends on the consultant. But if you have a consultant with like a really high, I'll use myself as an example. I have like a package of deliverables for launching a new community. So like you get strategic calls and you get these like actual tactical done for you handed over deliverables.

That's like my big package. Then I also have like one on one calls that are much more affordable to dig in to specific problems. Now, a lot of consultants myself included, are like, ask that question of how do we provide like a bridge for people who can't afford the big package but still need support. So what you're going to want to look out for Christopher is like community or group coaching or mastermind opportunities that are run by consultants.

I myself just finished testing out like an accelerator for a four week window with community builders who I knew were right in my target audience but I knew couldn't afford my big ticket item. So there are there are options available. They tend to be in the form that are more affordable, but they will be in the form of a community experience accelerator, a mastermind or group coaching so that it's less like it's less one on one time with the consultant.

But you're still benefiting in a group environment from the wisdom that they have to share. So does that help answer your question or guide in the right direction? I'd love to know. I think, well, I'm guessing you translate that. And one of the other things we talked about to it or what we've done and I've done others is have a very specific finite project that everyone agrees that this is worth doing.

I think one of the we'll talk about myths in a second. I think one of the myths is that consultants are a a blank check engagement or too broad, and there's not a very specific outcome we're driving toward being able to make. The case means that we have a clear understanding of the outcome that we're going to drive to, to say, hey, this is this is the we agree, this is the problem we're trying to solve.

This is actually the most cost effective way to solve this problem. And we want to be able to make headway against that. And the right way to do that is to is to bring in a consultant. Yeah, I think that's our first that's our first myth. Right. That, you know, consultants are nice, are nice to have their luxury.

It's not a it's not a must have. It's an optional thing. Yeah. And you know, there's such a there's such a range of options available for consultants that are really, frankly affordable. And what I've found with consultants is that most tend to have some sort of like one hour call or a package of calls option. And even if you're not able to purchase like the highest priced item that a consultant offers, being able to have that one on one time.

I have found personally, as someone who has used these calls for myself and someone who leads them the amount of value that you're going to pack into that one hour because one, you are going to take advantage of that time so heavily that you're going to pack it in. And to that consultant like they have over the years, niched down their experience to be able to like really target and get to the heart of your problem way more quickly than if you would like, kind of continue to stew and spend and be lost on what to do next.

So even if it's one hour, you are going to get more value from that time than like what you might what might take you weeks and weeks working through all the free resources out there. You know, one of the other angles I've seen people take related to that is, let's say it's purely budgetary of, oh, we don't have budget for a operational consultant, but we do have professional development budget repurposing that time as a coach of you're not investing, we're not investing operational daughter dollars, you're investing in me as the as the community leader.

It also just happens to be that this consultant is going to coach me on how to solve this business operational problem that we're facing. Yeah, that's a really that's a really, really great call out. Kyle I love that whichever whichever bucket is going to be more manageable. So going to be an usher. Yeah, we're tolerable. Yeah. It's like, Oh, yeah, we know we'll invest in you all day long, but we can't increase headcount or perceived spend on this part of the business for whatever reason, which is a whole other whole other problem too, to overcome other myths of bringing in consultants.

Yeah. So. Yeah, well, no. Yeah. So another one that I come across often and I mentioned this a little bit already is that we have to, we kind of have to have we have to approach a consultant like we would approach a hire, we have to have the exact goal, the exact direction, the exact outcome identified. But the sweet spot of a consultant is that they help you tease out when you are stuck, when you don't quite know what you need, when you're not quite sure what the next steps are like.

That Chaos department is where the consultant shines the brightest because they can really, one reflect back to you as a consultant oftentimes on those one on one calls. I think operates partly like a coach. And this is where I think coaches shine. They can help reflect back to you where you might be avoiding certain decisions or you might have certain personal obstacles that are keeping you from being able to move forward.

And I think that's just the sweet spot of the consultant, is that ultimately they're they're able to enter into the chaos with a bit more clarity then you as a community manager who are in the weeds every single day. Yeah, I think that goes a little bit counter to what we were talking about earlier. That one way could be to justify a consultant is the is have a very specific project or outcome.

But I agree 100% that clarity provided the analysis seeing things you're not seeing is it's a very, very large percentage of that value. Yeah. Yes. And definitely still if you're going to continue with a consultant like again establishing with the goal and the the expectation and for going from point A to point B, what is point B in that first or second session.

But don't wait to tease that out before you reach out to someone because they can help in that teasing process. There's also I'm seeing a trend, especially in the community spaces. There's a combination consultant hat versus kind of contractor hat that I may start the engagement as a consultant as named. They're in, but it kind of becomes contract work after that to be like, okay, hey, I consulted by the way, you can contract me to do this and help do this work for you as an output different from the consultancy part.

Yeah, and that's what we didn't have this down, but I would say that's a third myth that I've come across is that consultants are strictly advice driven. There is sort of this blend of and there's a spectrum of ways that consultants operate today. And on the far end you have like highly advice driven strategic consultants who I like to say like create more homework for you.

Yeah, you go to them and you might have a bunch of questions and they like they give you a bunch of insights, but you and you have a lot more stuff that you can try out after you partner with them. Then on the other hand, you do have consultants who will come on and they will operationalize everything, even if they're not going to be with you long term.

Personally, I like to try to hit somewhere in the middle where I'm setting my clients up with strategic frameworks that are going to help with their own understanding and transformation, while also providing some of the lift to the project so that I'm not just creating 17 more to do less for them to execute on. I think every time I've tried to hire a consultant, even outside of community, the the most of the pushback I get is because there's that myth or misunderstanding that, Oh, this is just going to end with me getting a report and no actual work being done, whereas the trend is much more.

Now, not only are we going to tell you you need to go fishing, we'll teach you how to fish and we'll fish a little bit with you so we know that you got it. And then and then you're on your own. Oh, I love it. Yeah, I love that analogy. And bringing that in. Yeah, well, we'll fish alongside of you.

Catch a couple for you, teach you, but then make sure you're not just thrown out into the big, wide ocean. No, no, never. Never go in before. So when, when do we bring in this consultant? Because I think I could. All right, we've. We identify what kind of consultant we need. We've we're we've overcome myths. We understand the type of work that they need to do.

I think my experience is there's always it's always the right time and it's always the wrong time. I can have a million excuses as to one way or the other. I'm curious what your your experience has been. Yeah, Yeah. I kind of like sales. The answer is like, what are what are you what are you losing out on by not hiring consultant right now?

So this would be something I would say tactfully on a call like what is this costing you? But truthfully, I think there is is some merit in in understanding this question for yourself. What are you losing out on by not having the clarity or task execute it or this project taking care of for you in some capacity? What are you losing out on?

And especially if you can assign a monetary value to that, that will that can offer a really easy comparative analysis of like, well, we would lose literally this match or we want to be here, but we're here, so we're losing this match and comparing that with the cost of the consultant. On the other hand, like just annually, like some some times of the year that I found to be really helpful to bring on a consultant during the summertime, things in the community world tend to kind of slow down a little bit.

So that tends to be a great time to reassess and kind of create an action plan for your second half of the year. And then also in like December or January, again, like we're kind of like resetting naturally to the calendar year. Things are slowing down, People are on vacation, Everyone's like New Year, new like we're going to be everything's going to be fixed in the New Year.

Bring on a consultant who can change the world. No, but but that tends to be naturally really good times to step back, assess strategically what needs to happen, bring on new hires. It's a bit of a slower time so that you can onboard with someone and then execute as the year progresses. I think the other version of seasons we talked about too was if your particular community has a season of like you just wrapped your major annual event and it's slow after that.

Okay, take a breath. That's a good time to regroup if there's a natural lull, that that might be the time to to do it. Yes. Thank you for adding that one. And I think you call them like a natural watershed moment. And those those are great times to bring somebody on to help reflect. Yeah. It's also like as a consultant, it's so helpful after those watershed moments because there's so many fresh takeaways that we have, like whether it's a program or conference or like a series that just ended.

Like the team walks away from that experience ready to align on their insights. And so as a consultant to come in, it's like such a juicy time. You're like, Oh, well, you don't have to like form. We have this experiment that just ended now we can like tease it out and figure out what was good and how can we move forward with that.

Yeah, that was, that was different from what I was. I was just talking about lulls in the natural cycle of your community. But the watershed moment is another one of like, Hey, okay, we want to ramp up for a new platform launch. We want to be able to extend the impact that, you know, this campaign had, being able to engagements around that for sure.

Yeah. Awesome. Other other thoughts on, you know, the right time, some more or hurdles that you've had to overcome or people have had to you've had to jump over as a consultant yourself that you think would be valuable insider advice. And Christopher, if you have other questions, please feel free to drop us in the in the chat too, or anyone else would love to to dig into those.

Yeah I'm, you know, one of my greatest like projects or I had the greatest struggle was actually with the community that was they didn't want to run their community anymore and they they brought me on. They kind of wanted either they wanted permission to, like, close it down, like, Hey, this just isn't going to work. You guys should just close it.

Or They wanted a quick fix and they wanted something that was it. Like a their community was like a super robust ecosystem and like it was it was baked into so much of what they were doing as a company. And so I think the learning that I had as a consultant was that going into that relationship, I was so blind to the real need and what they were really seeking.

So that was that was a super tough lesson to learn, like being in the midst of that and realizing and then articulate and like I think they didn't even realize at the time when they brought me on like, Oh, we, we are really not ready to like, invest in what it's going to take to actually improve this. We either want like quick wins or we want you to tell us that we can just close it down.

So that's it. That's a tough spot. As a as a consultant and I don't know, it kind of brings me back to that point of like, don't don't hire someone or try to outsource like all of that uncertainty. Like if you don't want to lead your community, I think it takes a level of awareness. And again, this is where like a coaching consultant can help peel back the layers a little bit and help you discover like what actually it is that you want and what you're doing and your goals.

But I've done myself that that was a really sticky situation where I was not quite sure how to how to move forward. And I think that clarity upfront would have really helped. Yeah, I think since we're we're sharing lessons learned and honest mistakes, there have been a lot of consultants that I think we've hired with too little, in my experience, too little or too much clarity, too little meaning that this is something that we needed to have stronger opinions on about what we think a path forward would be so we can effectively evaluate their recommendation and work ahead of time or the opposite of like we had a very laser focused outcome that we wanted

and we didn't leave space or we weren't ready for what that meant. And the the consultant provided a lot of really good input in that actually said, Hey, actually you need to have this and this and this and this sorted before you get to this step would have been helpful to to be ready for that and have a little bit of a broader lens for that engagement.

Yeah, it kind of comes back to like if you're looking for a quick win or if you're looking for like, like what's the secret? What's like the one thing that we should be doing that's going to like ten X everything, if that's the question that you're asking, if like you're in, if there's not, there's not like not one single thing that you can do to like get 10,000 new members, like, it's just not especially in community building, it's a human science.

And so if you're if you're in it to if the questions that you're asking is like, how do we best learn how to serve our members or how do we best like learn how to gain insights from what they want? Like if you're embracing the mystery, a consultant is like such a great fit for you. But if you're looking for like the quick win or the secret ingredient, like maybe go find some spammy YouTuber who.

Good for you. Yeah. Yeah. Influencers. Yeah. You're looking for, you know. And I will say one other thing. This is a totally different area industry, but I, I really this is like probably one of the greatest areas of struggle that I had in hiring someone was for my accounting and my bookkeeping and a couple of things I learned through that experience was one, that is an area of my business where I know nothing.

I'm like, and I don't want to spend any time learning it. And what I noticed after three different years in three different groups that I worked with was that I because I didn't know anything about it and I didn't have any interest in learning, I had to select someone and choose to hire someone who I knew I had high levels of trust with.

And for years I spent I was trying to spend the lowest amount of money. That was my priority. And so I always I kept getting people who I couldn't trust. And because I was paying so little, I knew I couldn't trust them, which led me to not it was like the entire dynamic was like messed up from the start.

So if there is a position or something that you're hiring for that you're like, I need like super high levels of trust because I know nothing about this and I don't plan on knowing anything about this, then honestly, that has to be reflected in your budget. Like you have to be willing to pay more to get someone who is really good, who you know, you can trust if you're not going to invest in your own knowledge in that space.

And it took me years to learn that lesson. I think that's I think that's a really, really important, important lesson and could could not be could not be more true. I think that gets into like, where do you and how do you find a good consultant? Where how do I identify people that I can trust or people who are going to be and, you know, be the right fit for what I need?

Yeah. Oh, it's tough. I mean, for me, the best place to go for trusted resources are people that I've I know who have worked with people in the past. So I, I mean, that's literally how I found my, like, amazing bookkeeper, accountant, person who, like, is fabulous. I finally was like, screw this, like Upwork. I have to like, I'm going for the big dogs.

Like, I need to ask people, ask my network that was how I found them. So frankly, like, ask the people that you know is the best place to start if you are in the community building space. We like myself and the and the gradual team here are also offering to be like a bridge into these resources. So I do think like the survey that we've made, if you're looking for help and you're not quite sure where to start, we would love to get some details about what you're looking for and help connect you to a space and a trusted source that we have either worked with or seen our work in the past.

Because for me it's all about trust, and especially when there are so many options out there, it can and not all, not all consultants are going to be able to to meet the need of what you have. So I think personally by referral is like a really great way to start. Yeah, I think that's a great a great point.

And by I would I would add one qualifier to that relevant referral. We talked about this is that not every every community consultant is not going to be able to consult with every type or style of community. There are different needs, so it's best to look for something that, you know, that community looks a little bit like mine or they have similar kind of strategies and models and structure.

So I want to find people who could can help consult on on that. I think that's going to yield a higher quality result than just the top community strategist who's only ever worked in, you know, enterprise brand communities and never touched an influencer community or creator community. They I'm sure the tactics and information are going to be relevant or going to be good, but may not be be relevant to.

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And a great way to like kind of tease things out with a consultant is consultants like myself will do like workshops like this or create lots of free content or free digital downloads like looking for if they're writing somewhere like have a newsletter looking for places where you can get exposed to their style and how they think about community building before you dive all the way in is also a great way to build that trust on your end and make sure that it's a good fit because there's there's so many different things that could, whether it's like that consultant's style or their niche or the type of community that they're building.

Like there's so many layers to it. So Just doing, doing some due diligence and making sure that it's a good fit. Yeah, 100%. Other final tips thoughts, ideas on on when and why to to bring in a consultant. I think we did a pretty good job of covering it. I'm curious if Christopher has any other questions. But you know, I don't think I don't think everyone always needs to hire someone or have a consultant.

I'm certainly not trying to push that. Everyone needs to to blow your budget on this all the time. But having someone at those strategic moments or someone who can like really take the execution off so that you can focus on those strategic moments is going to be what takes your community to next level. So if growth and growing your engagement is important, this is an area that I'd recommend investing in.

I think that we probably could have started with the why to have a round out of this. We are all looking at no increase in headcount, decrease headcount, but hey, growth needs to be the same, expansion needs to be the same consultant is a great way, great way to do that because we don't have to commit to a full time headcount but do need some you need some help?

Well, yeah, definitely. Well, thank you so much for for jumping in and having this conversation think is super super relevant for where where we are in the community world right now And always appreciate your your insights your experience on both sides of the coin is rare and super, super helpful. So thank you, Brie. Appreciate it. Yeah, thanks, Kyle.

I appreciate you inviting me to join you for this course. And I'm excited to have the recording. I'm excited to pass this around. Yeah, we absolutely, we absolutely will. Well, thanks. Thanks again.

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