Building community: How the Autodesk Community team keeps customers engaged and inspired

5 min read

(Photo via @ADSKCommunity on Twitter)

Communities can be found in all kinds of forms, including online forums, social media groups, or even in-person gatherings. These groups provide a sense of belonging and connection for their members. Did you know Autodesk has its own community that connects users from around the world? The Autodesk Community helps nearly 1 million people every month!

Community managers play an important role in fostering engagement and building relationships within a community, and we’ve got a great team who helps support our customers! Get to know a few of the Autodeskers behind the Autodesk Community:

Amanda Kinley is a Senior Program Manager for Autodesk’s Community team. She is based in South Lake Tahoe, California, and focuses on building programs that bring people across the world together on the Autodesk Community platforms. She’s passionate about making the user experience intuitive, and sparking a sense of belonging and community, no matter the place.

Jonathan Hand manages the AutoCAD & Tech Admin community and is based in Rutland in the United Kingdom. Previously, he worked with some of Autodesk’s largest European resellers, helping deploy technology in the built environment. He was inducted into the Autodesk Expert Elite program in 2016 and has presented at Autodesk University several times, winning a top-rated speaker award in 2020.

Tiana Dame is a Program Manager for the Community team at Autodesk. She has been with the company for five years and was a Technical Support Specialist before joining the Community team. She was previously based out of the Boston office and is now home-based in New Hampshire.

What is the Autodesk Community?

Jonathan: The Autodesk Community is our unique place for people to connect and inspire each other. We provide a platform where you can find answers to your product questions, share your knowledge, build your network, and learn something new.

Amanda: Forums are for getting help, but communities are for sharing ideas and creating connections. Historically, the Autodesk Community has really been thought of as “just the forums,” and while it’s not a bad thing to get our customers answers to their product-related questions when they need it, the Autodesk Community has grown into something much, much more. With blogs, webinars, tips & tricks, contests, and groups, the Autodesk Community is a place to find people with similar interests and make connections, build a reputation, share your expertise, and give back to a community that will welcome your involvement.

With people getting back to gathering more in person, it’s been amazing to watch people meet face-to-face and then continue their interactions over the Community (and vice versa). At our annual customer conference, we met in person with hundreds of members whom we had only ever met online – but it was like meeting old friends!

Tiana: The Autodesk Community encompasses a lot of things. Our focus is all on providing Autodesk customers with an enriching community where they can come and find answers to troubleshooting questions, connect with others in their field, gain general product and industry knowledge, connect with Autodesk employees, and learn more about Autodesk in general.

What do you do in your role?

Amanda: I focus on creating and managing programs that support our team’s goals. For example, a goal might be to “increase the number of active members in the community,” and my team will think of new and interesting ways to entice new members to join (and keep existing members returning). Recently, I’ve been obsessed with ensuring our students and educators have a dedicated space to learn our software, ask those beginning questions, and get guidance from mentors in progressing through their education and exploring additional software. It’s an exciting place to be, and each day I look forward to seeing what students come up with!

Tiana: I focus on a lot of planning! Basically, taking a project idea and turning it into a successful pilot in the community and nurturing it until it is ready to be handed off as operational.

Jonathan: I create and develop strategies for engaging and connecting our members across the Autodesk Community. Connecting people and ideas inspires me through community interaction to help build inclusive communities by making knowledge accessible.

Shaan Hurley and Jonathan Hand

Why is community engagement important?

Tiana: Community engagement is one of my team’s top priorities, so it is very important to us. Without engagement, we aren’t a community — we are simply a content consumption stop. It is important that we don’t fall into that category because we want to be making connections with our customers; this is important for Autodesk because it shows our customers that we listen to their needs and feedback, while also being approachable and connected. We aren’t robots, but actual people who are here to help.

Jonathan: Community engagement increases the visibility and understanding of issues and empowers our community. It provides opportunities for community members to contribute to the future of our technology. Through feedback, community engagement enables us to listen and, in turn, demonstrate the impact of community contribution. Community engagement builds deeper, stronger, and more trusting relationships between ourselves, Autodesk, and our customers.

Amanda: Engaging with a community, online or in person, provides a great opportunity to network, collaborate, and innovate with other individuals with similar interests to you. I’ve seen such wonderful results come from engaging online – from students helping each other with tricky projects, to sharing renders that would make the leading animation companies proud, all the way to troubleshooting 3D designs for vital mask parts at the beginning of Covid for first responders to use. Without users stepping in and showing they’re there (which is as simple as “liking” a post), people are less likely to share, collaborate, and solve those bigger issues that help all of us.

What are you most excited about for the Autodesk Community in 2023?

Amanda: We’re expanding! Students and educators will be able to connect even more easily than they do now, and we’re hoping this brings in a wave of experiences, questions, participation, and new connections from around the world.

Jonathan: I am most excited at our plans to expand the community from a place of product discussion to becoming the de facto industry community – channeling our customers’ expertise, creativity, and insights.

Tiana: To grow. We are entering what I think is an exciting time for the community – there are so many ways to connect with customers and grow our community on so many new platforms. I think we are going to be able to grow quite a bit this year!

Learn more about the Autodesk Community here.

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Community Inside Autodesk