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November 12, 2009

A Day in the Life of a Yelp Community Manager

We recently did a blog post about the many job openings at Yelp. At the end, we promised that we would pull back the covers on what it's like to work at Yelp as told by some of the employees that make our company rock.

Next up in our "Day in a Life of a Yelp Employee" series is the fabulous Leighann F: Yelp's Boston Community Manager!

Leighann chats about what it's like to be the Queen Bee of Beantown and how her vices of choice - coffee and cocktails - help her juggle her 9 to, er, midnight job. And even though this Jersey-born gal wields a mean right hook, she's the first one to throw out the welcome mat, and just like Norm, everyone knows her name!



What did you do before coming to Yelp?
Like all good Jersey girls, I left my tiny hometown, earned a college degree and then I started writing. Everything from press releases, advertisements and sales journals to copy for the women’s fashion division at Macy’s.com, lifestyle magazines and Fashion Week in NYC. I planned corporate events, produced fashion shows and consulted for a start-up clothing line. On the side, I served overpriced bottles of booze in the VIP lounge to party-goers at trendy night clubs. But my favorite job before coming to Yelp was my brief position as assistant pastry chef at Restaurant Dante in Cambridge. Everyone should spend some time working in a professional kitchen!

How did you first hear about Yelp and the job opening?

I first heard about Yelp in October 2005 in New York City. I immediately fell in love with the concept and it wasn’t long before I used it for everything! Fast forward two and a half years later, and I am sitting in a posh restaurant in Boston with Ligaya T., the Yelp Boston Community Manager at the time. We planned to meet up for a drink at my favorite cocktail spot in the city (No. 9 Park, if you must know!) and just catch up. In conversation, she mentioned how she was transferring to San Francisco to manage the East Bay community and was having a tough time finding someone to replace her here in Boston. I was shocked and said it—this was a dream job, surely hundreds of people applied. It was then that Ligaya began asking me my professional background and work experience. After that, she encouraged me to apply on the spot.

What's your title at Yelp and how long have you been with the company?

Though I’ve been using Yelp since October of 2005, I was hired as the Boston Community Manager on July of 2008. If you ask my Boston yelpers, they’ll tell you I’m the CM, a.k.a., the Community Manager. That’s my official title. Some will even you tell that I am “The Queen Bee,” which always makes me laugh. Many members of the business community know me as Yelp Boston’s Marketing Director. Any of those works for me!

What comprises a typical day for you?
Coffee. Lots of it. And phone calls! To business owners, potential sponsors, marketing partners and sometimes even the press. When I am not on the phone, I am probably dashing off emails to potential venues for our Elite Squad events, or headed out to lunch meetings in the city to chat with PR folks. Somewhere in there, I write a review, pop in to see what's buzzing on our talk threads (the latest restaurant opening or where to find the best burrito), and reach out to welcome new yelpers to the Boston Community. When 5pm rolls around and everyone in the workforce is heading home, I am heading out to restaurant openings, bar crawls with my fellow yelpers, art installations and even the occasional burlesque show! There's a constant connection with the Yelp community - which keeps me energized and at the ready to explore just about anything.

What's the BEST part of working for Yelp?

Being unboring! It’s one of our core values and living it everyday means thinking up crazy, off-the-wall ideas whether it be for an event or a marketing partnership, and knowing that in addition to imagining it, you’re going to have the support to pull it off.

What is your favorite perk at Yelp?
I love that even though there are Yelp employees far and wide, it's an important part of our culture that we stay close knit - both virtually and physically. We community managers get together a few times a year and it’s exciting to catch up at HQ in San Francisco or in our New York office, and talk shop with other managers from all over the world. We also travel to cities within our region to provide support to our team members for larger events. Getting to spend some time with your colleagues and get a glimpse into their market and their approach is learning experience like no other! Plus, there are often cocktails involved...

What has been your favorite memory at Yelp?

The day I got hired. For real! I was such a big supporter of the site for years that having the chance to talk to people about it all day long and help build the community is an absolute dream. It was like the mother ship had finally called me home. That, and the recent release of Monocle: the augmented reality feature in our iPhone App. It was just one of those things that had people using the word ‘bad ass’ in association with our engineering team. I couldn’t agree more!

What separates Yelp from other places you've worked?
Yelp embodies a lifestyle that I am excited to live. It’s not just a brand, or a corporate structure or a paycheck. We’re a fun and youthful company that understands the importance of real local communities - and that's hard to find elsewhere. Everyone, from engineering to sales to our user operations team, is focused and excited about making this site THE #1 local resource, and the enthusiasm is infectious.

Finally, what would be your one piece of advice for someone interested in your role?
If you don’t like organizing events for hundreds of people, eating, drinking, meeting new people, thinking outside the box, creativity, new media, social media or changing the world, this isn’t the job for you!