During our weekly Saturday ritual event called Journey of A Brand Community Builder, where we highlight stories of Brand Community Builders from across India, we had a little chat with Navya Tatikonda on 7th August. She leads a thriving community of developers in Hyderabad as part of the Facebook Developer Circles program.
Navya was one of the first women community leads in India to become a part of Facebook's Developer Circles program. She nurtured and scaled this community to over 6k members in two years. She has also been recognized as one of the most inspiring community leads from the Facebook team.
In this exclusive conversation with Navya, we got to know:
And much more. So let's get reading!
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She started a community because she identified that when Sangeeta was starting, this is what she was learning in college, and the industry expected her to do this much. So right after her final year, it was difficult for Navya to make this jump blindly. Then she started doing meet-ups and she found the communities solving this problem statement.
After that, it clicked to her. She said, "If this community is solving this for me, then why not let me do it for people who are younger than me. People who are like me." And then she went on, and now she voluntarily leads this community called Facebook Developers Circle, apart from her full-time role.
Navya sees success in small, small things itself. For example, it could be a person traveling all these miles just to attend a Facebook developers circle session, or it could be an introvert trying to explore themselves. And right now, Facebook Developer Circles Hyderabad is taking sessions for others which is the best thing because the members are being given the space to learn, try and experiment here.
So that is important for any community, to make its members feel inclusive, and that has been one of her biggest accomplishments. Before the pandemic, in one of the sessions that developer circle by Facebook was hosting named Data Science Series, most of the members were engaged and used to work from Monday to Friday.
Even after that, they still found the strength to attend their sessions on Saturday and Sunday from morning till evening for 2 months.
Navya was very moved by that dedication. And she thinks it is because her community is giving them value and content to learn. As a part of these sessions, people get started with data science from scratch to the point where they can build their intermediate projects.
That kind of effort in an offline environment already speaks of the miles that she, as a community builder, is ready to go for her community. She considers this as an accomplishment for her and her team because they work hard, right from the brainstorming session to make things happen.
Even now, whenever she tries to settle back, they would not just let her settle. But in fact, they actively contribute to the Facebook developer circles and make engagements. So she thinks everyone in her community is a leader, and they lead by example.
She says, "There are a lot of things to do, and it just never stops because we are dealing with people here. There is just no end to the conversations that you have on and on with people. When you have a team, they sort of push you and give you that energy when you are feeling exhausted that hey you know, let's go ahead and do something more! And then you go ahead and do some crazy, amazing things."
Most outsiders always think that community management is all about hosting events or identifying the right spaces. And if it's an online community, they just think it's about moderating the groups. But ideally, community management is all about understanding your members, what they need and why they are part of your community.
What are they expecting, and how can you make them feel inclusive - all these little things matter a lot. And it's not about just identifying their needs but also helping them out. However, it's equally important for a community manager to be in touch with all the members. When she started her community, Navya decided to make it for everyone, be it a student or a founder or an aspiring developer and not just for programmers.
Along with empathy, you also need to have limitations as a community manager. We're in a generation where every morning there is a new framework trying to outsmart the other one. You cannot just have sessions for everything so you need to do your research. So one needs to understand what their community is looking for.
People need to speak to their members and also check up on your team - what is their motivation to be in this Facebook developers circle. She learned this from her seniors. It is all about being there for your people because they are your family at the end of the day.
Before the pandemic, Navya used to host sessions for the Facebook developer circles and there were a couple of hours allocated to networking. During that time, she and her team used to go and talk to different members of the community. Their feedback helped them a lot.
After moving online, they host zoom calls or hangouts so that everybody stays in the loop. They also post questions to engage with the members. This is how they speak to each other regularly.
According to Navya, being a part of Facebook developer circles is quite huge. It has been an amazing journey for her so far. She met a lot of leads and she thinks that she found the true meaning of community here. Everyone tries to lift the other person and they all grow together.
And even on a personal level, she has learned a lot of things here. Her mentors are the most
selfless people and they have played a significant role in her journey. She has also grown a lot technically, from the sessions organized. Two to three years down the line, she wants to be a product manager herself.
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