This blog post has been a long time coming. As a matter of fact, it has been on my Todo list for about two years. I know I am behind :). While parts of this post might come off as bragging or boasting that is not the intent. The point I want to get across is how the community has helped me get to where I am today.
The Back Story
The journey started about 11 or so years ago when I first moved to Arizona. I had a few friends here, through my wife, and a job but I felt like I could not grow or expand in Arizona. I’ve spent most of my career building a name for myself in New York. After looking around at the technology scene in Arizona, there were a few groups around. AZGroups was the largest Microsoft focused group at the time. I decided to attend the meetings to network and to keep up with the latest and greatest in .NET. After a few months, I decided to, mostly because I didn’t feel like driving to AZGroups, to start my own user group in the Southeast Valley. Hence the “Southeast Valley .NET User Group” was started. This launched my public speaking “career”. After that, I started to see how networking and the community could help me and others grow. A little bit later I started Tech Lunch South, a weekly lunch for technology people in the Southeast part of the Phoenix metro area. It was great because I got to meet and talk with people in technology outside the Microsoft world. A bit later, I helped out with Desert Code Camp and eventually became the sole organizer of it.
At this point you are probably saying “Blah Blah Blah Joe, I can see why you think this could be interpreted as bragging” :). Well, let me tell you the effect these community efforts had. The first was more speaking opportunities, I was able to speak at other groups in Arizona and California, in addition to Code Camps. Eventually, I got to speak at paid conferences, although I think I have Hurricane Sandy to thank for that :(. But the creating of the group or lunch or organizing Desert Code Camp was not the only reason for that, it was the networking. Through the group, lunch, and code camp I have made a lot of friends and connections. I also got a Microsoft MVP out of it which help improved on those connections. I also got to help people along the way.
As I eluded to earlier, these community groups that I started or continued, led to some really good connections. Some of these connections helped others:
- One of the connections I made from this, Mike Hamilton (@mikescott8), with a little bit of help from me started the Northwest Valley .NET User Group.
- Another one, Barry Stahl (@bsstahl) was able to start AZGiveCamp
- Worked with the International .NET Association as Directory of Marketing, Vice President, and President to help start other users and to help them and speaker grow.
Some of these connections helped me:
- These connections had led to at least 2 different jobs and my current employer, Quicken Loans.
- Offers to speak at several US based conferences, like DEVIntersections, DEVConnections, Code Stock, TechBash, MVP Mix Dallas, and others
- Offers to speak at two international ones, C# Corner Conference and NDC London.
- I was even on .NET Rocks talking about Application Insights.
The Bottom Line
The moral of the story is to try and not be the “A-typical” developer and socialize at events. Use the user group, code camp, or conference to build up a network of peers to make you and them better. If you are looking for help on how to socialize at these events, one of my friends and fellow speaker Jeremy Clark (@jeremybytes) blogged about it. Have a “Power of the Community” story to share, post a comment below.