Joe Cothrel is Chief Community Officer at Lithium Technologies. He is Lithium’s top expert on community and social best practices and has helped more than 300 companies execute successful social efforts.
He is active on Twitter @cothrel and is a regular contributor in the Lithosphere where he is JoeC.
The exultant cry of “We did it!” rang through the hallways of the San Francisco Intercontinental Hotel on May 11, the last day of LiNC, our annual customer conference. The cry came from almost 40 community managers from around the world who successfully completed the requirements for our first Lithium Community Manager Certification. Participants from the US were joined by community managers from Australia, Colombia, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Sweden, Switzerland, the UK – a reflection not only of the global nature of our business at Lithium, but also the increasingly global practice of enterprise community management.
The same cry came also, I think, from a host of internal experts at Lithium, who had spent many weeks prior to the event in content development, slide creation, exam beta testing, and many other tasks required to make the certification a reality. A lot of hard work went into the effort, particularly among the core team of AubreyL, BrianO, OliviaL, and TashinaK -- not to mention our fearless leader SherryQ, Lithium’s own director of education and training.
I have to admit to some trepidation leading up to the session. Participants included some of the most experienced community managers I know, as well as folks much earlier in their CM careers. Is the content appropriate for both audiences? Is it organized clearly? Will the test be too hard, or too easy? You don’t really know until you complete your first full round of certifications. While we’re still combing through the feedback, the early reviews look good. Among the comments we received from participants:
“One of the best certification sessions of any kind I have ever seen.”
“This was definitely a graduate-school course in community management.”
“I came away with several things I need to start on next week.”
And that was certainly our goal with the session – not just to prepare our participants to pass an exam, but to impart knowledge that's useful and important to the practice.
Among potential next steps with the certification are live sessions in New York and London, sometime in 2012; an on-demand version we can use internally, with partners, and perhaps eventually with customers; and continued enhancements to the content. We actually developed about twice the volume of content than we could accommodate this time, and new content will also be needed as the practice evolves and changes. Ultimately, we’d also like to incorporate a mechanism for customers to participate in decisions around the scope and content of the certification. They are, after all, the practitioners on whose collective wisdom the certification is based.