As mentioned in my manifesto, I am doing things to be more involved in managing my career. One of those things is attending the SharePoint User Groups in San Antonio and Austin. At these meetings, I get to meet with other people who use, administer and program SharePoint.
Last month I went to the San Antonio User Group meeting. One of the members there, Tom Resing, gave a presentation about using the Business Data Catalog functionality in the Enterprise version of SharePoint Server. For those of you reading who are not SharePoint people, the BDC presents data from other sources (like databases) as if it were data within SharePoint itself. It was a great presentation, and I got a lot out of it (including a topic for a future blog post).
The point of all of this is that by participating in my community, I’ve had the opportunity to meet some great, talented people, some of whom I expect will become lifelong friends. Participation also will help me become a better SharePoint programmer and administrator. In the future, I intend to contribute as well, giving back to the community.
There are online communities as well. Twitter has a very active SharePoint community, and there are active communities on many other subjects as well. These communities work because people have information and ideas that they are willing to share, and everyone benefits. People willing to share their knowledge add value to the community, making the community more valuable to themselves at the same time. They also make themselves more valuable to the community, increasing their stature.
(I remember reading an SF novel a few years ago, where the culture, isolated from Earth, had developed such that a person’s community standing was measured not in how much they had, but how much they contributed to the community. It sounded hopelessly idealistic at the time, but I’m watching social media begin to independently develop along those lines.)
I found another community, one with people facing challenges similar to my own, faced by many in the current economy. LaunchPad Job Club works to help people through unemployment and get them back to work as quickly as possible. This Friday I’ll be sharing my experience in finding a community on Twitter, and giving practical advice on how they can do the same. Afterwards I’ll be posting the presentation for everyone to get some value from it.
As I mentioned in my post about finding your passion, volunteering at LPJC has been a eye opener about what inspires me. And I’ve met some people there who will be lifelong friends, too.
Find your community. Find several of them. And contribute your knowledge, your talent, your passion. It can open doors, give you new perspective, and make you a better whatever-it-is that you are.
Jim Adcock is Vice President of Launch Pad Job Club, an organization in Austin, Texas, whose mission is help people who have lost their jobs to get the skills they need to land their next job, and to help them cope with the interim between jobs. Check out other career-related entries.