Sherrie Rohde is the Magento Community Manager. She is an endearing figure in the Magento community, you can call her Community Girl as well. Sherrie has ten years of experience in Community Management.
She has done her Bachelors from John Brown University in Graphic Design and Digital Media Arts with a focus in Interactive Authoring. Sherrie loves to travel; she has experienced nine countries. Having gained a reputation as an expert in her field, she has several skills and she knows how to build and manage a community.
Sherrie is an ENFP personality type, which means she is an excellent communicator, diplomatic and notices what people need and want. She additionally co-produces a weekly show for community managers called #CMGRHangout. Sherrie is enthusiastic about community building and client experience, unnerved by business challenges and spurred by enterprise.
Today, we are speaking to Sherrie about the Magento Community, development, and her influencers. Read on to gain some vital knowledge shared by a Magento industry thought leader.
Cloudways: Sherrie, you are currently working as a Magento Community Manager at Ebay Enterprise. How long have you been involved with community management? What challenges did you face on your journey to being a community manager?
Sherrie: Ha, it’s funny that you ask that as I can see patterns much further back than an industry title. It’s often been pointed out that retail, food service and summer camps are great skill preparation for community builders. In addition to checking two of those boxes, I’ve been involved with online forums since 2001, moderating since 2010 and in a more dedicated community building role since 2012.
The journey into community has been a fun adventure. While there have been challenges, they were more-so opportunities for growth than anything else. As with most public facing roles, it’s important to stay diplomatic and calm while building relationships and shining the spotlight on those within the community. My main goals are to connect those in our community with each other and with the resources they need to be successful.
Cloudways: You have done your Bachelors in Graphic Designing and have worked as a Multimedia Graphic Designer along with being a Magento Developer as well. What made you switch on to the development side? What problem did you face as a developer?
Sherrie: Actually, I taught myself basic HTML and CSS in 1999 with the help of several blogs around the web. When I was in university, I studied both Graphic Design and Digital Media Arts with an Interactive Authoring focus.
My Multimedia Graphic Designer job at Minerva Promotions included web development responsibilities both for our small business as well as for clients. As luck would have it, I started there shortly after Magento went public beta and in time I was able to convince my boss that Magento was the best solution for our ecommerce needs.
I can’t think of any problems I faced while being a developer, but since I had learned ASP and Access in university, I actually learned PHP and MySQL while learning Magento. I won’t say it was easy, but it was fun.
Cloudways: You have lots of experience in managing and developing community and partnership network. What advice would you give to upcoming merchants who want to build a strong community for their valued customers?
Sherrie: My biggest advice is to think about why you want to build a community for your customers. If you can’t clearly describe your business objectives for doing so, then don’t start one. In addition, if you can’t commit the resources to back up those objectives, don’t start one. If those two things are clear, then hire someone who is experienced in building communities and can help you get your strategy in place and off to a good start. Also, take a look at other ecommerce sites who are building communities. Study what you like, and what you don’t like, and figure out what works for you.
As a side note, I actually did a presentation on Building Communities in Ecommerce at Meet Magento Germany 2014 and Meet Magento Netherlands 2014.
Cloudways: Meet Magento helps magento enthusiasts to connect with the Magento Community. How do you think new Magento amateurs can benefit from Meet Magento and Magento Imagine? What is the best impact of these type of events in the Magento Community?
Sherrie: In my opinion, there is no substitute for meeting people face to face. The friends I’ve made at Magento conferences throughout the years have proven to be valuable relationships both in business and in life. My best advice to anyone new is to reach out before the event so you have someone to look forward to meeting as well as to be aware of small meetups surrounding the event. The pre- and post-gatherings are smaller and a good way to connect. (If you don’t know who to connect with, ask me. I’m happy to help!)
In addition to making connections, it’s good to see what others are up to in the community. There may be a solution presented that you’ve been looking for or an idea exchange that sparks your business. Our Magento branded events (Imagine & Live) are also the best way to get the latest information on our products and services straight from the source.
Cloudways: As a community manager, how do you see Magento community in coming years? What do you think is the best way to connect in the communities?
Sherrie: From my own experience, the past eight years have been really fun to watch the Magento community grow and change as people have developed successful businesses around this platform throughout our ecosystem. Knowing that growth is still happening, and how important community is internally, makes me really excited to see where the coming years take us.
If you want to connect with the Magento community, a few places to start are:
Also, Alessandro Ronchi is forever compiling a fantastic list of Magento resources around the web, and, as I mentioned already, reach out and say “Hi!”, I’m always happy to help you connect with others in the community.
Cloudways: Magento has become a very popular ecommerce platform. How do you see Magento in the next five years? Magento 2.0 is coming. Do you expect any major changes from previous versions? Share some of your experiences from the Magento community concerning Magento 2.
Sherrie: The Magento community is fired up for Magento 2. I compile a weekly Community Digest of Magento-centric content from around the web on our new forums each Monday and the closer we get to the release, the higher percentage of that content is centered around Magento 2.
Cloudways: Sherrie, besides work, your social profiles point out your love for travelling! How many countries have you traveled? You seem to like skydiving as well. Would you share the thrilling experience with our readers?
Sherrie: So far I’ve traveled to Zimbabwe, Guatemala, Italy, the UK, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands. I also lived in Canada for nearly three years after moving there to work with Sweet Tooth. It’s worth noting four of those opportunities, five if you count moving to Canada, grew from being involved in the Magento community.
I have to laugh a bit at my old interview on Guido Jansen’s blog, but I still believe that life is what you make of it. My Twitter bio “Terrified of status quo. Motivated by adventure,” is more or less my mantra. Someone once asked me if I’m scared I’ll die before I cross things off my list, but the truth is—I’m not. If there’s an adventure I want to take, I go for it, even if it pushes me far outside my comfort zone. We prioritize what matters to us. In the last year I was able to summit four mountains, visit three new countries and fulfill three public speaking opportunities. My experience is that if you push yourself through those challenges, you’ll feel more alive.
As for skydiving? That was the most empowering thing I’ve ever done.
Cloudways: Themes and Extensions are one of the most useful tools when it comes to development. Which extensions would you suggest to someone looking for optimizing their website? Can you name 5 of your most preferred themes and/or extensions.
Sherrie: I’ll be honest, it’s been a couple of years since I’ve personally used the extensions that are out there now. What I’d recommend is asking the community for their experiences and opinions. Things like Sweet Tooth’s Top 10 Magento Extensions as Voted by The Community are a good place to start. If you’re a developer, you can also take a look at tools like Allan MacGregor’s Triplecheck.io to examine code quality.
Our new Connect, expected to launch later this year, will also help you better evaluate the extensions out there.
If you have absolutely no idea where to start, it might be a good idea to get in touch with a solution partner to help you kickstart your store.
Cloudways: Everyone is inspired by some influential personalities. Name 10 of the most important people within the Magento community who have influenced and inspired you through out your life?
Sherrie: Only 10? I’m so terrified I’ll forget someone, so let me leave you with my Magento Community Twitter list that I’ve been building for years. I will say Rob Chambers and Dan W helped me so much on the original forums through learning Magento and building my first extension while Brent Peterson invited me to be a forum moderator, Rhonda Rondeau mentored me into the community management industry and Thomas Fleck and Guido Jansen convinced me I could speak at conferences.
In addition to that, Lee Hadsock believed in me enough to hire me on as Community Manager and part of our Magento Small Business team, which is pretty essential to being where I am today. I’m also super grateful to be working with Ben Marks to connect the Magento community; the work he’s been able to achieve since joining the team is definitely an inspiration.