Over the past 20 years, I have had the pleasure of working in a very community-focused industry. Post-college, I moved to Texas after a year and a half out of the technology space. My group of friends introduced me to the .NET developer community where I attended two to three .NET user groups (DNUG) a month (and the BizTalk group, too, yup!). I quickly found my way back into technology – I worked in .NET development, SQL development, business orchestration, and quickly found my way through a series of gigs that got me really excited about being back in technology.
My network grew and eventually that community got me a job. Through Twitter, actually; and while I can’t find the REPLY which invited me to interview with at the time Professional Services director Scott Dockendorf, here’s the post that got me my job with Telligent.
I continued to work in the community. When I ended up at Booz Allen Hamilton I joined a group of SharePoint SMEs who ran an internal-only user group (BAHSPUG) for nearly 1,000 SharePoint professionals. We met monthly and eventually increased this to twice monthly. We had a portal for shared proposals, a list of successful projects, a registry of specific skillsets. That SPUG has run for over a decade now, and while I’m not there I hear it is still in great hands.
In my current job, I’ve been given the opportunity to speak at User Groups, day and week-long conferences, run webinars, and write blog posts, all in the interest of knowledge sharing. Marketing? Sure. Sales? Yeah. #yaycapitalism But it’s still an amazing feeling to be able to not just share my knowledge but LEARN from these AMAZING people.
When COVID hit, when the world’s Knowledge Workers began to all work from home, all at once, I watched user group after user group turn to the internet. I watched community members kick off NEW user groups, podcasts, and blogs. My user group restarted after three years of dormancy and had speakers from the United Kingdom and attendees from Brazil. I interviewed people from all over Europe and America and made new friends in Nigeria who joined us as well.
I started a conference! We’ve met twice now, virtually. It’s been AMAZING. Through that conference, my colleagues and I hosted over 200 presentations by presenters from around the world. Hundreds of hours of content focused on the Microsoft ecosystem. A community within the larger community.
My point is: this community rocks.
Today I work with three Regional Directors and five MVPs from China, Japan, and the US. The RD and MVP positions are bestowed by Microsoft to people who share their knowledge and help others have the opportunity to do the same. It has been an honor to work with people in both categories throughout my career. Managers and Directors. CTOs and Engineers. People focused on technical expertise and people focused on business enablement.
And on July 1 I was given that honor.
Yes, I applied. Yes, I thought I had a strong application. But no, I did not expect it. I did not “know it was coming.” Nor do I look at it and think “I am owed that.” I am owed nothing.
I am honored. Honored to be one of over 3,000 global MVPs. People excited to share. People excited to learn.
I am grateful. Grateful for the opportunities I have had and the people I have met.
I am thankful. Thankful for the mentors at my jobs and mentors in this community.
I am thankful for the Microsoft community leadership who, upon invitation from Craig Jahnke, accepted my application and deemed me worthy.
I am extremely thankful for my family. My parents, who taught me to give back and be part of a community. My children, who tolerate when I work; “all the time” as my 9-year old put it today. And my wife, who found time to support my crazy hours and obscene (by some standards) travel schedule while raising two AMAZING children, completing her Ph.D., following her own career, and having her own community to participate in.
The Microsoft community is amazing. Join it. There’s literally no excuse. It’s free – so much of it has ZERO cost. It’s global and almost guaranteed to have a community event in your region or even neighborhood. It’s the largest curated firehose of information outside the public library system, and you can decide how much of it to take in at once.
See you around.