Monday, January 11, 2010

Building Community - My Genealogical SuperPower

This week's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun from Randy Seaver over at Genea-Musings involves identifying your genealogical superpower:

1) Answer the question: Do you have a genealogical “superpower”? (i.e., a unique research ability or technique that helps you track down records or assemble conclusions that others can’t?) If so, what is it?

2) Tell us about it in a blog post, a comment to this post, a comment to Dean's post, or a comment to this post on Facebook or Twitter.

3) If you have a picture of yourself in superpower mode, please show it to us!

I am not a big fan of highlighting my own areas of expertise - it seems too much like "tooting my own horn" to me.  But if there is one "super power" that I seem to have, it has to be this: the ability to build community.

While it is obvious to many that I've been able to do this through both the GeneaBloggers Group on Facebook as well as the website, my history of organizing groups of people goes much farther back.  In terms of using social media to organize a group, I started in September 2008 when I created Heller Highwater, a blog about my former law firm.  I have been able to keep over 800 ex-employees of Heller Ehrman LLP informed about various bankruptcy court filings as well as the class action suit seeking to recover unpaid wages and benefits.

* * *

Connecting people with other is not an easy task - many people liken it to being the center of attention at a cocktail party.  Not true and it is a lot more difficult than it looks.  The job of a community builder is much like that of a concierge at a hotel, but not as temporary - when hotel guests leave, unless they return later on, they don't remember the concierge or keep requiring his or her services.

A community builder carefully crafts a group - whether it is online/virtual or in-the-flesh, and unifies them around key issues and concerns.  In addition, a community builder often has their "ear to the rail" as to who needs help, who has specific skills, and the developing issues and concerns which may impact the community.

And some skills that help: having a good memory and the ability to take notes and stay organized.

* * *

While I've tried to document my typical day in the genealogy community (and have taken a hiatus since there is barely time to write blog posts let alone keep a journal), there is hardly a typical day.  I typically process close to 500 emails a day as well as Facebook notifications and Twitter messages.  And don't forget blog posts in Google Reader.

I try to help where I can or at the very least when someone needs assistance, I try to put them in touch with others in the genealogy community who might be able to help.  In addition, I also try to match folks up with possible income opportunities such as writing articles, etc.  Many times the requests are not in my niche area of technology so I gladly pass them on to my colleagues.

* * *

I don't know if there is a cartoon super hero character that would match my persona, although I am partial to Wonder Woman.  I always thought it was neat how she would spin around real fast and transform into a fighter of justice especially with her Lasso of Truth and indestructible bracelets.

However I fear I'd look more like this.

Le sigh.

© 2010, copyright Thomas MacEntee


T.K. said...

ROFL!! Thomas, you're a riot!

Tracy said...

Too funny! I remember one year in school having a Wonder Woman bookbag. That image wasn't quite the same one I remembered. :)

Sherry - Family Tree Writer said...

Wonder Woman hasn't aged well, has she?? So sad...

What a hoot!

Love your superpower! You've been so very helpful to me!


Evelyn Yvonne Theriault said...

Oui - this is your superpower!
Another part of that package which I think you handle very well is letting you own personality shine through while still projecting a professional image for our community (Geneabloggers). Very savvy AND approachable = winning combination!
Evelyn in Montreal