Last week, David Spinks and the team at gathered together over 300 community professionals for a first year conference that proved to be highly polished and extremely informative - CMX Summit. Here are our takeaways:

Why Should They? Trust Strategies for Every Situation - Robin Dreeke, Head of the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Program

Building trust with a community is the foundation for everything a community manager does. Robin led us through his model for trust, including taking time to understand where others are coming from, suspending your ego when helping others, providing factoids rather than excuses, and managing expectations. What building trust all comes down to, says Robin, is helping people discover what they want and helping them to achieve it. 

Intro to Community Psychology and the "Sense of Community" Theory - Dr. David McMillian, Community/Clinical Psychologist

The Sense of Community Theory is approaching its 30th anniversary, but it just as relevant as ever, and having David McMillian run us through it was a unique treat. What will really stick with me was David's closing remarks (transcribed by Shannon Byrne for The Community Manager): 

“Go home and tell someone something a little too much. Take a risk. Maybe they will tell you something. If they do, take, catch it, hold it. Tell them that they belong to you, that you’re going to reserve a special place just for them. Tell them that they matter. Being connected doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice, you sacrifice because you care. The more expectations you create, the better you’ll dance with them. Give something of value and accept something you don’t have that’s of value to you. Learn, teach, grow, and prepare them for the day that you’re not going to be there. Then tell the story about the people you love. Create rituals, symbols, and traditions then tell them your ability to build a community has grown.”

Crafting a Self-Sustaining Community Culture: The Power of Ritual, Purpose, and Shared Identity - Emily Castor, Director of Community Relations at Lyft

Seeing Emily present is always a delight and she is definitely the expert right now on building a company culture that becomes truly ingrained in your community (and vice versa). Lyft's pink mustaches and fist bumps are so much more than just gimmicks. These rituals and totems speak to a basic human need for something to build an identity around. These rituals scale organically and create a cultural identity, which then allows powerful one to one interactions to happen without the community manager needing to be involved.   

When Customers are your Product: Lessons from Hundreds of Collaborative Consumption Communities - Lauren Anderson, Chief Knowledge Officer at Collaborative Lab

Carrying on the peer to peer theme was Lauren Anderson of Collaborative Lab. Covering various companies that have built their business upon their customers' collaboration (and therefore built on community), she identified three key themes for community building for collaborative communities: Strong Values, Trust & Transparency, and Empowerment and Involvement.

Building Branch and Potluck - Lessons in Developing Community Products - Josh Miller, Founder of Branch

Fresh off the announcement of being acquired by Facebook, Branch Founder Josh Miller sat down for a Q&A about community development. Josh shared some learnings from the difference between Branch and Potluck, most notably that people craft comments to their perceived audience. In this way, an intimate setting allows people to be their authentic selves more than a larger, more open setting. 

The Evolution of Communities - Social Design and Key Metrics for Every Stage - Ligaya Tichy, Angel Investor, former Community Lead for AirBnB

Ligaya Tichy is already a legend in the community industry, helping share the early community stages at Yelp and AirBnB. Her entire presentation is full of actionable insights and really understandable breakdowns of the metrics that community managers should be keeping an eye on. Something I hadn't been familiar with before (but will now be swearing by) is her useful baseline for healthy community activity: 30% of your user base should be active monthly; 10% should be active daily, and 10% should be active concurrently on any given day. 

Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Community Systems - Nir Eyal, Author of "Hooked"

I'm a big fan of Nir Eyal, and we reviewed his presentation from ForumCon 2013 and we're even more excited to put his ATARI theory into action now. 

Building the 500 Startups Community on a Global Scale - Dave McClure, Founding parter at 500Startups

Dave McClure is one of the most colorful personalities in the venture capital scene and shared some of his experiences in early communities as well as nourishing a community culture at 500 Startups. "There’s always going to be tensions between marketing, sales, product, design, UX/UI," McClure admits, "but community can bring it all together."

Lessons from the History of Communities – Why They Matter Today and Tomorrow - Ellen Leanse, Apple's First User Evangelist

The last speaker of the day, Ellen Leanse, was truly inspirational. Forget Sheryl Sandberg or Marissa Mayer, Ellen is who I want to be when I grow up. As Apple's first User Evangelist, she guided Apple through the particularly turbulent time after the departure of Co-Founder Steve Jobs. There is so much that I learned from her in the too-brief time she spoke, but the main thoughts I'll be keeping with me are, echoing the days's first speaker, that what you share with the community should be about what they need, not you. And that a community will hold your company accountable to be the best that you can be - so live up to it! 

I think the biggest think I took away from CMX Summit was an overwhelming feeling of love: for my job, for the community I have the privilege to manage, and for the community of community managers I get to be a part of. As part of her talk, Ligaya Tichy had little jars of Play-Doh handed out to attendees. Squeezing something, she explained, helps with public speaking... it gives an outlet for the adrenaline that flows when you're talking to a group of people. This encouragement to attendees to go speak within and outside of their companies is endemic of the culture of learning that was evident at CMX Summit. Speakers were actively engaged in each others' presentations, tweeting about them and referencing them later in their own. Whether someone has three months, three years, or three decades of experience in this field, we all have something to learn from each other. This year's attendee may be next year's speaker and vice versa. It truly is a great time to be a Community Manager

If you're sad to have missed CMX Summit, you can catch up on all the speakers thanks to sponsor BrightTalk. And if you're encouraged to attend another community management conference, the Virtual Communities Summit in London next week is sure to be another great event. You can also check out these CMX Summit posts from other attendees:

What we learned (about ourselves) at CMX Summit by Evan Hamilton

10 Take-Aways From the First-Ever CMX Summit by Shannon Byrne for LoyalCX

CMX Summit Liveblogs from

Community Management Tips Learned from CMX Summit by Dennis Shiao of DNN

CMXSummit And The New Frontier from Feverbee

Twitter Trending Wrap-Up from Seen

Images via TwitterAdriana CerundoloKrysta Gahagen

comments powered by Disqus

Every few weeks, Ning invites a leading expert to discuss trending topics and best practices for community management. Watch the recordings here.

More than two million people have built a branded social network on Ning. Many of these customers now enjoy thriving online communities. You can find a few of those success stories here.

Learn what it takes to thrive and see what it is possible to achieve with Ning.

Growing a thriving online community is one of the most rewarding things you can do.

Our goal at Ning is to make building a community dead simple. We provide an incredibly reliable, popular, and easy-to-use platform so you can focus on cultivating your community.

Learn how to start your community in minutes.

Have you considered monetizing your community? Download your free copy of Monetizing Online Forums by Patrick O'Keefe to learn what methods are available, how to implement them, and how you can benefit today.