February 26

Might Virtual Communities Be Our Best Learning Resource in this Remote-First World?

Until only very recently, traditional academia has mostly ignored the field of Product Management. Filling that gap, product people often turn to a wealth of other resources that are out there, including books, podcasts, social media feeds — and even conferences like our very own INDUSTRY: The Product Conference.

But now that we’re in this remote-first world — how will things change?

Our take: Virtual communities will become even more critical as places for product people to continue to learn.

We all wish this pandemic would just go away. But many changes that the pandemic has caused won’t just stay temporary. Cities like Austin, Texas, and Miami, Florida are widely reported as the biggest beneficiaries of the tech hub exodus that’s happening from the Bay Area. While that could happen — we believe that it’s the virtual communities that will really benefit. Here’s why:

  1. Virtual communities provide people with a way to stay constantly connected to those they identify with — no matter where they are. Whether it’s through platforms like Slack or even Clubhouse, people can make and foster real, human connections.
  2. There is much less friction with virtual communities. Each city that attempts to grow as a tech hub requires changes in policy, political backchanneling, investments in infrastructure, and a whole lot more. While it takes real effort to build and nurture a virtual community — these other roadblocks don’t exist. Virtual communities can start small, focus on providing real value, and grow exponentially.
  3. Virtual communities were already thriving pre-pandemic. It’s true that we’re biased. Product Collective has operated as an independent community for product people since 2015, and has grown every single year in doing so. But community-led growth is becoming as trendy as product-led growth. We’re even seeing some communities being acquired in strategic acquisitions specifically because of the power they provide.

So, by all means, hunt for the best resources to learn from — there are lots of great ones out there! But you can not only learn but build real connections and relationships through community… even while we all continue our remote-first, home-based work lives!

Mike Belsito

About the author

Mike Belsito is a startup product and business developer who loves creating something from nothing. Mike is the Co-Founder of Product Collective which organizes INDUSTRY, one of the largest product management summits anywhere in the world. For his leadership at Product Collective, Mike was named one of the Top 40 influencers in the field of Product Management. Mike also serves as a Faculty member of Case Western Reserve University in the department of Design and Innovation, and is Co-Host of one of the top startup podcasts online, Rocketship.FM. Prior to Product Collective, Mike spent the past 12 years in startup companies as an early employee, Co-Founder, and Executive. Mike's businesses and products have been featured in national media outlets such as the New York Times, The Atlantic, CNN, NPR, and elsewhere. Mike is also the Author of Startup Seed Funding for the Rest of us, one of the top startup books on Amazon.


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