3... 2... 1... Welcome to adventures in community building

Do you dream of becoming the ultimate community builder? Known for a legacy across the galaxy? Want to discover all the secrets and tricks of the trade? Are you ready to transition from a tech role to community manager?

You've come to the right place! Yup, me too! Well, maybe not all at once.

👋🏻 I'm Simon Tomes, a white cis male who lives in Greater London with my lovely wife, Emma, and our two brilliant kids, Betsy and Freddie. We like adventures, yet nothing too crazy whilst the world picks itself up from the depths of that terrible disease – please do continue to look out for each other and be kind to yourself.

Embrace the variety

I'm a Co-founder of TestBuddy, a SaaS product to help exploratory testers. It's awesome to have built something completely from scratch. We turn a monthly revenue and our customers are brilliant. We're not ready to go all in just yet so we still take paid jobs.

I also happen to be a software tester with the privilege of 18 years as a testing professional. I'm super grateful for that time.

I've led teams of testers, QA engineers, developers and coached and mentored all sorts of folks. In the mix of all that I've been an agile coach, scrum master and delivery manager. Nothing beats collaborating with a diverse group of people to build brilliant products and services.

I'll always be a tester and right now it's time for me to try something completely different. Or is it?

Do things with communities

Back in April 2014 I quit my very comfortable job at eBay to start my own thing. I'd failed by August but what a blast starting my own tech business in an archaic business travel industry. I then built a test management tool and that failed too. All the learnings fed into TestBuddy.

During this time I left the comfy corporate cave and embraced communities. I joined Croydon Tech City , first as a participant, amplifying their cause and running free workshops on Agile & Scrum. We had a blast doing that and I got a taste for the satisfaction of sharing your knowledge and experience with others (outside of an internal work setting). Eventually I was asked to join the leadership team to help run events and promotions plus educate and connect folks. I learnt a lot.

I also joined a global testing community called Ministry of Testing – created by community legend Rosie Sherry. I can't get enough of this community. Such warmth and a real sense of belonging. I've had the privilege of contributing articles and kick starting their AMA sessions as host. Plus I've run my own Tuesday Night Testing sessions and encouraged the community to run their own. There's been other community stuff too which I'll share another time.

As an outsider looking into a community I tend to immediately see the power of connections. There's strength in a group of people who share similar goals, ambitions, fears and worries. It's mesmerising. Many times I've seen the positive impact community has on people. It's a wonderful thing! We feel like we share similar problems and we're not alone. An abundance of personal growth for many community members – things never thought possible yet made possible with the support of their people.

And before I know it I'm swept up in it all doing my very best to contribute and learn. I can't help but become a participant, and in some cases, a leader.

When I see someone doing something awesome, I amplify their voice - particularly those new to the community. When I see someone being a d*** I call them out privately.

I've been fortunate to feel a sense of belonging in all sorts of communities. I’ll share more stories about those experiences in future posts.

Learn to share. Share to learn

So what do I plan to do with this blog? Here are my objectives:

  1. Learn what it takes to be an excellent community manager whilst reflecting on existing knowledge and experiences. Share absolutely everything as I go.

  2. Enjoy the ride, connect with a tonne of excellent community folks and be inspired.

  3. Land a community manager job by July 2021.

I'll capture thoughts, ideas and interpretations of the articles and books I read, the videos I watch and the conversations I have with community folks – with their permission of course.

My guiding principles

On this adventure the following will help me be true to who I am and what I believe in:

  • Be as open as possible

  • Be kind, helpful and mindful (for everyone's mental wellbeing, including mine)

  • Inspire myself to inspire others

  • Embrace the unknown and take calculated risks

  • Don't take myself too seriously

  • (I'm sure there are plenty more but that's all for now)

Wanna join?

If you're new to community building or super experienced and wanna see someone discover the ins and outs of the community manager role then I encourage you to subscribe to the newsletter. I'll send you a "hello" email and we can chat some more.

Have a great day and keep community kind! 🤗

Join the adventure