It’;s coming up to two years that I have been running this blog, and roughly the same amount of time since I started being involved in the IT community. I thought it’;s a good time to sit back and reflect on being involved in the IT community and maybe help some people looking to do the same.
Involvement in the IT community has a fairly broad scope, it can be blogging, answering questions on forums, making podcasts, volunteering to help at community events. Really what it comes down to is taking some of your time to do something that helps other people.
Let’;s start with the most obvious question, “What’;s in it for me?” or you as the reader. Directly and initially there isn’;t a great deal of benefit as that’;s not the point. Growth in the community takes time and so does establishing your ‘brand’;. After a while, people begin to know you and look for you. Going to conferences means running into mates instead of strangers. This can be people looking for help or potential new employers. When looking for work, being able to point to online sources that show your attitude is a great way for the employer to be more comfortable with hiring you and differentiate your from the rest.
Dedicating time to the community is a lot like paying it forward. You put a good chunk of effort into helping others and will find that when you need help, people are willing to take the extra step for you.
The reputation built through community activities has the potential to extend beyond yourself and can benefit the company you work for, even if you try to keep the two separate.
“What does it take to be involved?” The simple answer is time, you need to be able to dedicate time to giving something back. Maybe dedicate a couple of hours a week to helping on forums, contributing to a GitHub project or writing a blog article. When starting out it can be very intimidating to put yourself out there. I struggled with the blog at the start (until recently) about my content not being unique enough or technical enough. With blogging, the simple rule I go by is if I think it can help someone else, post it. Blogging can be used as your own person learning tool. I am posting about NSX as I am trying to learn it, so to be confident that something I publish is correct, I have to read and understand that topic, beyond just passing an exam level.
Many local user groups such be found through meetups. Contribution can be just attending and talking to people, meet with your peers, learn new things, see new ways to do what you’;re already doing. Eventually, you might reach a comfort level that you can present on a topic as now you’;re just talking to mates.
At the end of the day, it’;s about putting yourself out there is some way and giving up a bit of time, you will learn new things, build some confidence and make some mates if you keep at it. At some points, you will probably be wrong, this is fine, we are only human…Might be some robots hiding. There’;s a lot to love about being involved.