Sometimes (okay, in my opinion – all the time), you just have to say yes to serendipity.
I met Larry Friedman, Deputy Director of Tourism in Nevada, at a pretty remote ecolodge on Ometepe, an island on Lake Nicaragua. We were both on vacation. And while the topic of conversation mostly consisted of kayaking, bird watching, and compostable toilets, we also discussed what it takes to build online communities over our nightly mojitos and wine. Before we parted ways, Larry asked me to speak at the Rural Roundup, an event celebrating it’s 23rd year, hosted in different towns annually throughout Rural Nevada, specifically for Nevadan tourism professionals. He asked me to come and speak about community.

Here are the thirteen tips I shared (in no particular order)
1. Share the love. Soak in information and share it back with your network.
2. Remember your ABCs – Always Be Connecting. I recently wrote about this.
3. It’s more about the soft skills. Measuring metrics is vital to a business, there’s not doubt, but a community manager must strike a balance between the analytics and nurturing relationships.
4. Don’t focus on the followers. Every legit person is a VIP.
5. Keep your environments (online and offline) lively.
6. Develop flexible, strategic content. (Have a plan, leave plenty of room for the spontaneity)
7. Create engaging content.
8. Plant lots of seeds. Make time to engage with brand new contributors, reach out to your network to help get campaigns started.
9. Online communities generally start (and sometimes stay small) and that can be just as impressive and impactful as a big community.
10. Ignite your evangelists. Look for those awesome users and help them shine!
11. Know when to address your critics. And when to let sleeping dogs lie.
12. Run your own race. Keep your head down and focus on what you’re there to do – develop your own community.
13. At the heart, a community manager connects people.

For the Nevadan’s in the audience, and for anyone else interested, here are the slides.

Thank you for the opportunity to keynote this event. It was lovely meeting so many friendly Rural Nevadan’s and learning about so many of the gems rural Nevada has to share.