Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I Can Only Imagine How Tiger Woods Feels...and Why I'm Going Back To ASHA

I do not envy Tiger Woods right now. I can only imagine how it must feel to be a public figure and have your personal life exposed for the world's comment. Ok, granted the guy is a celebrity and the stakes of his indiscretions are high: so far he's already lost Gatorade as a sponsor--who knows if others (Nike?) will follow.

Granted, there's is no comparison between a huge celebrity like Tiger Woods and a lowly community manager like myself...other than we both have some 'splainin' to do, as Ricky Ricardo would say. No, I was not unfaithful to my adorable husband or anything sordid like that...but I did just a few weeks ago make a prominent-ish job change, only to now be going back to my former job. Yes, that's right--I am going back to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) to resume my role (albeit slightly modified) as social media & community specialist after a brief foray at Avectra.

If I learned anything from this Tiger Woods nightmare it's that you may as well just tell your story and be done with it--even if your story isn't that interesting. The association world is small and only days after an article in Associations Now profiling me as one of the first full-time association community managers hit people's mailboxes, I announced that I was leaving to go to Avectra, an association management software company. And here it is not even a month later and I'm going back to ASHA. What gives?

Nothing as interesting as Tiger's story, I assure you. Basically two things: balancing work and parenting is hard and I'm a quick learner. While my boss at Avectra could not be a nicer or more accommodating person, it quickly became apparent that trying to balance parenting and a killer commute during flu season is no small feat. That and it took me all of a few weeks to realize that I missed the member community I had played a part in building. I didn't realize the full magnitude of my pride in being part of something until I was no longer part of it. Shortly after I left ASHA, they had their annual meeting and I was able to watch the fruits of my labor in action: an active twitterstream during convention, lots of posts on Facebook about the event, and members who still thought I was at ASHA tweeting me links to their blog posts and talking about how important the association's social media activities were to them. It's one thing to preach how important social media is to people; it's another to hear from them how much they appreciate your efforts and how it's enhancing their professional lives and their association memberships. Suddenly instead of me pushing my ideas about community I was watching members suggesting stuff like a session dedicated to social media at next year's meeting, or establishing their own hashtag for feedback about the conference. Maybe it sounds stupid, but I felt proud...and sad not to be a part of it anymore.

I figured if I already felt this way after being out of the association world for only 3 weeks, maybe the association world was where I belong. Maybe my work wasn't done yet. So I swallowed my pride, gave my apologies to Avectra and asked for my old job back. Luckily they hadn't filled the position yet, and welcomed me back.

So there you have it...honestly, not that interesting, but writing this will hopefully save me the trouble of repeating this story a million times when I start changing my job status in various social networks over the next week or so. It was an honor to work with Avectra, if only for a few short weeks--if you're in the association world and don't already subscribe to their Avectra Academy newsletters and webinar series, you should--they've got some really great content and plans to do some great things.

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