I had never considered being a part of the Microsoft Tech Community. Not after ten years of working day-in day-out with Microsoft solutions. Not on the day of signing up to the site to get recordings from the previous year’s Ignite. Not even on the day before I posted in my first community – which, by the way, was Microsoft Teams.
I had my day job. I had recently passed an Office 365 MCSA and been awarded MCT. I kept up to date with Microsoft Blogs such as Microsoft Secure, Microsoft 365 and EMS. I attended several industry events every year.
At the time, I felt like I was already doing enough – and I had this preconception that it was just another forum for getting into arguments. Like most people, I didn’t want to be getting into it with another technician halfway across the world over things like whether a shared mailbox or mail alias was the optimal solution after a user had left the business.
But I was wrong. Very wrong, in fact. This is because – as I came to realise soon after actively participating – that I was never ever part of a real technical community.
It was sometime around October last year, I was on a call with Laurie Pottmeyer (@LauriePottmeyer) – Senior Program Manager at Microsoft, about what it took to become an MVP and what you could do in order to get a shot at a nomination in the future. At any point across the four hours of the call you could ask any or all of the questions you ever wanted to know about it – and from what I can remember there were a lot of people eager to see some sort of objective criteria to be able to focus their efforts. Today, I can’t really remember the questions I asked – I didn’t really attend to explicitly find them out. I was more curious to know what it was that made an MVP – and I’m happy to say I did. An MVP is someone who is recognised by the community for sharing their passion and supporting their community, and through participation – often at the expense of their own time – helps others achieve and reach their goals. Therefore, there is no concrete criteria. You could do forums, or blogs, or books, or events, or social, or apps or any combination thereof. There are many paths that lead to it – or should I say you make your own path. But what runs through all of it is essentially giving back and loving what you do.
All these people on the call – they absolutely loved what they did. It was the people on that call like Laurie and Liz Sundet (@percusn) that may me think about giving Tech Community a go. It wasn’t long before I released how much you get back from the time that you invest in others and working with people who share, support and are receptive to what you love doing.
1.) You make other’s jobs – and lives – a little easier
At its core, the Tech Community it about technicians helping others to find solutions to issues. For me, there is something beautiful in the act of solving a problem that will make a real difference to someone else’s workday or alleviate the stress or worry they may be experiencing. However, you don’t need to solve every issue or know everything about it; simply engaging in dialogue with other community members and drawing from your experience may help another member come up with that solution. Yet it doesn’t even have to be about specific technical solutions; you can make other community members aware of events or assets such as blogs that will help them to perform their role better; you can make them aware of support channels they didn’t otherwise know they had.
2.) You meet amazing contributors who want you to succeed
The community is full of amazing contributors who you may get to know in your time there. Since joining, I have met some world class technicians who I am going to call out such as Adam Deltinger (@deltanr1), Juan Carlos Gonzalez Martin (@jcgm1978), Chris Webb (@ChrisWebbTech), Vesa Nopanen (@vesanopanen), Vasil Michev and Linus Cansby (@LCansby) – who bring years of experience working with these solutions, who sacrifice a lot of their personal time supporting others. They support members who are raising issues irrespective of their technical level or ability to articulate it; they support other contributors in everything from help getting to the solutions to caveats and limitations. Yet it’s important to point out – because this was my initial fear with the Tech Community – that there isn’t any egos or cliques. These contributors – if they are in the thread – are often the first to congratulate you for a well-made point, or a solution; and they are the first to support you if you run into any issues in pursuit of that solution. There really is a great culture of inclusion and respect for diversity both in ideas and experiences. If there wasn’t – I’d be the first person to call that out.
3.) You learn – a lot
Being in a community with such amazing contributors and like-minded individuals – and where community members are continuously posting technical questions and issues, you are exposed to a lot of technical scenario’s that you may not have previously encountered. Therefore, it’s a fantastic opportunity to learn and grow. You learn from the knowledge of other contributors. You learn from researching another community members’ issues and trying to replicate that in test environments. You learn from how other technicians’ approach and respond to issues. Other contributors will often point to the best assets, and the latest certifications. Another great aspect is that there are no pre-requisites to join a community: so, if there is a gap in your knowledge in a specific application or area then you can join that community and get up to speed much faster than trying to find all these assets on your own.
4.) It gives you opportunities outside of the Communities themselves
People that are passionate about what they do are always looking for more opportunities to help others – and this is especially true of the Tech Community. Community members are often connected and support each other on Social such as Twitter and LinkedIn, attend Microsoft Events such as Inspire or Ignite, start local Meetup communities or collaborate on content. For me personally, as well as starting this blog I have recently started From the Tech Community with Adam Deltinger (@deltanr1), a YouTube Channel dedicated to solutions which we have worked out on the Tech Community. Once we have it up and running, we’ll be extending the invitation to other community members and hopefully the content – as much as being a resource for other community members – will extend to help others outside the community who are using Microsoft solutions. I have several other things planned with community members.
All in all, the Microsoft Tech Community has been a fantastic experience – and I am looking forward to where it takes me in 2019. Whether you have been considering it or not I would encourage you to join, start posting on the community boards and experience the benefits first-hand. If you were once part of the community and haven’t been there in some time; it would be great to see you again so we can all benefit from what you love doing.
What are you waiting for? https://techcommunity.microsoft.com
Reach out if you have any questions!