Zero to Endless: The Birth of a Community Manager

I wrote this post on my 3 month anniversary … and never shared it. I’m inspired while sitting here in the BlogHer conference so putting it on my blog – as is. Editing be damned. 🙂

~ ~ ~

3 months ago I joined TechWeb (then CMP) and O’Reilly Media as the Content and Community Manager for the Web 2.0 Expo. Great title, isn’t it? Jen Pahlka, GM of Web 2.0 Summit and Web 2.0 Expo came up with it over Indian food in SOMA. At the time neither of us knew exactly how the role would play out, but in an age where the wisdom of the crowds reigns, thus establishing communities as a source of influential power and insight, it was a perfect, and somewhat evolutionary, match.

Obviously, I’m new to the conference business but I do feel that by hiring me the executives of TechWeb were being cognizant of the maturation of the marketplace and the changing needs of conference audiences. That’s a great sign for someone hoping to establish a career with longevity.

I’m also very fortunate to have been discovered by Jen – a woman with collaboratively 10+ years in the tech/gaming/web business, a mother, gardener and mentor. UK blogger and entrepreneur Simone Brummelhuis writes about female internet heroes – well, did you get my email Simone? I nominate Jen!

…. And after a Valentine’s weekend moving up from LA to SF I entered TechWeb’s office never having attended a Web 2.0 Expo but knowing that I now represented the brand, and that, ultimately, I had to help it grow.

A week later I hit the road.


Stop 1: Carsonified’s Future of Web Apps, Miami, FL

Intro to Microformats workshop:

I try to convince Tantek Celik former Chief Technologist at Technorati that I’m just here to observe.

“I don’t code.”

But he’s adamant, and proceeds to walk me through how to HTML a vCard.

“Holy shit!”

I had just jumped over a huge technical hurdle. Flash, AJAX – what next?

Jabber: Building the Real-Time Web workshop: presented by Blaine Cook

It was waaay too technical for me… so instead I decided to look into this Twitter thing he kept referencing.

Enter: @Janerri

Note: Blaine Cook is the former Chief Architect at Twitter. Before his departure he focused on building and maintaining Twitter’s Jabber-based real-time backend infrastructure that tracks and distributes millions of updates every day to users on the Web, instant messaging, and SMS. (crunchbase)

Good luck on your new endeavors Blaine! You Rock!


Stop 2: O’Reilly Media’s Graphing Social Patterns (GSP) / Emerging Technology (ETech), San Diego, CA

I connect with Web 2.0 Expo San Francisco conference co-chairs Brady Forrest (O’Reilly Radar) and Dave McClure (500 Hats) … and all of O’Reilly, except Tim. I spied him from a distance but was too shy to say hello.

It wasn’t until about the end of ETech when it hit me that what I was doing instinctively with all the folks I was meeting had a name – brand evangelism. And as I sat in the hall getting some work done, I was introduced to, and appreciated, the concept of a LobbyCon – great conversations definitely take place while chilling in the conference lobby.


Stop 3: South by South West Interactive, Austin, TX

Spring break for geeks… and a whole lotta fun. Thanks Supercollider Souris and EMV for the amazing Salt Lick dinner!

~ ~ ~

Here are some other highlight experiences from my first 90 days of being Web 2.0 Expo’s community manager…

FoWA’s closing South Beach party @ Nikki’s – getting hazed into the conference scene with a bunch of great folks who I now call friends (yeah, you know who you are)


Impromptu data portability meetup on flight KLM 606 SFO to Amsterdam with 3 speakers for The Next Web…relevance is me, right?


My first conference call with John Battelle (Federated Media) where he complimented me on great prep.


Web 2.0 Expo San Francisco – ALL of it, but most especially…Launch Pad: VC Edition. It was my first program and I think it was successful. 7-800 people in the keynote room,John Battelle and Brady Forrest as hosts, 3 VCs on-stage as panelists, and 6 presenting startup companies demo-ing live (from the 160ish that submitted).

That meant we had to use *all* 12 AV mics on-stage at one time… that’s seriously no small feat.

I also thoroughly enjoyed cracking jokes with Dan Lyons (Fake Steve Jobs) backstage in the keynote greenroom. If you were not fortunate enough to attend Web 2.0 Expo San Francisco and see his keynote, please, please, take a moment now to watch it.


Starting my blog! Thanks for the crash course on WordPress. It was a Steve Chen moment 🙂


Dim Sum at 1 am in Hamburg, Germany


Getting invited to present a closing comment on stage alongside the ex-chairman of, IBM, and the event founders at the Next08 conference in Hamburg.


Meeting friendly community members all over that have taken the time to chat with me about the Web, social media strategy, blogging, community management, relationships, technology… work… play… and life ever after.

~ ~ ~

Over honey and toast one cold New York morning, Dawn Barber (NY Tech Meetup) told me that the work of a conference organizer is endless. Amen to that lady. In my first 90 days I embraced (and enjoyed) the role of being Web 2.0 Expo’s community manager, content gatekeeper, brand evangelist… scout, curator, producer… enthusiast and fan. And this is just the beginning.


Where possible, I link to people’s personal blogs, because a real person is way more interesting than a static bio. And a note to seekers of community managers – make the effort to evaluate a person based on the skills they possess vs. their history of online expertise. The secret is finding someone with passion.

About janetti !

curious curious curious.
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4 Responses to Zero to Endless: The Birth of a Community Manager

  1. Dave McClure says:

    hey janetti!

    nice post… great hanging out with you at Web 2.0 Summit Dinner 🙂

    have a good weekend,

    – dave

  2. janerri says:

    dave! you’re reading my blog. inspiring ~ inspiring… i’ll keep writing 🙂

  3. brady forrest says:

    You’re doing awesome Janetti! It’s been great working with you.

  4. Pingback: For the love of fruit! | I was there last night

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