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As I’ve been out strolling with my puppy at odd hours, I’ve been writing this post in my head. Low and behold, the smart and funny Maggie Fox posted a t using the same analogy. Social media and puppies? Practically the same thing. Here’s why:

5.You have to be nice to everyone. The people least likely to come up to you and ask to pet your puppy are the people most like you. The people most likely to come up to you and ask to pet your puppy are: homeless people, young punks that look like they might shiv you, the old people you were scared of as a child and crazy people of all ages. You learn pretty quick how to interact with a wide variety of people you normally wouldn’t give more than a passing glance to.

4. There’s no such thing as 9 to 5. Puppies need constant attention, I think this statement needs no explanation (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, please don’t get a puppy). Communities need constant attention as well. A social network probably won’t eat all of your shoes if left alone, but you still need to nurture it, guide it and provide discipline to help it grow.

3. Disaster preparedness. Puppies are unpredictable. You can’t have every day to unfold as expected, you need to be ready for anything. Community management is much the same way. Anyone can say nice things on the Internet. What separates the really smart people from the “gurus” is the ability to stay calm at all times and swiftly handle incredibly horrible situations.

2. Everyone believes they can do your job better than you can. Walking down the street with your puppy, minding your own business? Surprise, someone will tell you what you are doing wrong and what you should be doing next. The same is true for community management. No matter what your strategy is, people will disagree. Knowing how to handle those opinions (or “helpful” pieces of advice) can make a huge difference in your job.

1. It’s about listening, not talking. When you have a puppy, everyone stops to talk to you. The thing is, they don’t want to hear about your puppy, your puppy has reminded them of a story that they immediately want to share. Online communities are no different. No one joins a community to sit back and take what you are selling, they want to share. They want to be a part of something.

*Photo of Chill Winston Lang, genius puppy.