“Being part of the community is to belong, to be accepted for who we are and what it is that we love. Everyone has a voice and every voice matters. Through the perspectives, experiences and support of others we find our greatest opportunities and possibilities.”
I was very proud when my quote above was featured on the community wall at Microsoft Ignite 2019. I don’t mind admitting that for the first ten years of my IT career, I never even considered being part of the Microsoft Tech Community. Right up to the point I actively started participating, a part of me had always felt like I had done enough. I had a successful day job, recently passed my Office 365 MCSA, and had been awarded MCT. I kept up to speed with Microsoft blogs such as Microsoft 365, Teams, and EMS. I regularly attended several industry events every year.
So, what changed? Why did I become part of the Microsoft Tech Community after having gone so long without it? In retrospect, there were several reasons. At the time, I’d recently attended Microsoft Inspire in Vegas and remember how speakers such as Dux Raymond Sy and Bernardo Caldas inspired me with their presence, passion, and drive for making people’s lives better with technology. I remember feeling I was missing something in corporate IT which I’d never managed to replace since I had worked as a secondary school teacher. I was also looking to engage more with others who were as passionate about IT as I was. The tipping point was a call with Laurie Pottmeyer and Liz Sundet on what it took to be an MVP – on the drive home, I realized this was what I was missing. For me, it wasn’t about an MVP award. I was missing a community, immersing myself in something greater than I was whilst having the platform and opportunity to give back.
Microsoft Ignite The Tour is coming to the UK on January 16th, a little over a year since I first joined the community. I am using this time to articulate why I love the Microsoft Tech Community and how it continues to make me better at what I do.
You can make community members lives a little easier, and they will do the same for you
Whether it is solving service issues, helping others to come up with their own solutions, relaying pertinent assets or information, sharing blogs, highlighting events, or escalating to UserVoice, there are so many ways to help others every single day on the Microsoft Tech Community. Even being part of a thread where someone provides a different perspective or understanding when facing a service issue can help us realise we are not alone, we are all ultimately in this together. Since I have been a part of the community, it has grown exponentially to over 300K members!
There is nothing quite like the feeling of ending the day knowing that you have made a difference to someone somewhere. The reverse is also true. Whenever I have faced an issue I haven’t had experience with or needed a different perspective, the community has always been there ready to help with their knowledge and experience. Considering how many issues are solved by community members every single day, the Microsoft Tech Community is a really great example of how we are greater than the sum of our individual parts, achieving more by working together.
You meet amazing community members who inspire and support you
@adam deltinger, @Vesa Nopanen, @Chris Webb, @Juan Carlos González Martín, @Vasil Michev, @Linus Cansby, @John Wynne, @Dean Gross, @Kevin Crossman — these are just a few of the world class technicians I have met on the Microsoft Tech Community who bring years of experience, and who sacrifice a lot of their personal time to support others. They do this irrespective of a community member’s technical level or ability to articulate their issue. One of my initial fears with the Tech Community when I first started was there would be cliques and lots of egos. I am happy to say this fear has not been founded. These contributors are the first ones 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 isn’t any one-upmanship. MVPs don’t assume they automatically know more than anybody else. There is a great culture of inclusion and respect for diversity, both in terms of ideas and experiences. The community is made up of so many wonderful people from all walks of life. From personal experience, it really is fantastic to finally meet other members face to face at events such as Microsoft Ignite or Microsoft Inspire when you have known each other online for so long. Over time, several Tech Community members have become my peers, my friends, and who are now my support network who I can turn to at any time for help and advice. They have made a real difference in my life, not just my career.
You learn, a lot
Being in a 300K strong community with such amazing contributors and like-minded individuals is a fantastic opportunity to learn and grow. Community members are continuously posting technical questions and issues, exposing you to a tremendous amount of new information — far broader than what you see in a single corporate environment. You will learn about scenarios you have never experienced in your role, including scenarios with different builds and different features. I have learned a lot from the answers of other contributors as well as from researching community members’ issues and trying to replicate them in test environments. Additionally, I’ve learned from how other technicians approach and respond to issues and the easy-to-follow assets they have created.
Another great aspect of the Tech Community is there are no pre-requisites to join! Best of all, it’s free to join, too. If there is a gap in your knowledge in a specific application or other topic area, you can easily join that community with just one click, and get up to speed much faster than trying to find all the assets and go it alone. I never hesitate to tell people that without the Microsoft Tech Community, I probably wouldn’t have passed the examinations I have. It really is one of the best ways to stay current and at the top of your game.
You will get many opportunities to help others through your participation in the community
One of the biggest benefits about the Microsoft Tech Community is that it opens the doorway for many opportunities to help others. This could be through product feedback or AMA’s, but most often it is through getting to know other contributors or seeing how they contribute to the community. Members who connect online through the community often also typically connect in-person outside, and support one other on social channels like Twitter and LinkedIn, attend and speak at Microsoft events such as Microsoft Inspire or Microsoft Ignite, start local meetup communities or collaborate on content. For me personally, participation in the Microsoft Tech Community has led to a number of other initiatives to help others including writing a regular blog at https://www.microsoft365pro.co.uk, the creation of the European Teams User Group with Adam Deltinger, and the creation of TeamsFest events with Adam and Vesa Nopanen which are 100% free virtual Microsoft Teams events drawing hundreds of people from around the world. It has led to me speaking at Microsoft Ignite 2019, SharePoint Saturday 2019, and several other local user groups. As the wider community and Microsoft get to know you and what it is that you love, more opportunities to make a difference naturally come long which may not have been available previously.
You have a voice, and that voice matters
The Microsoft Tech Community provides me with the scope and freedom to be passionate about and champion what it is that interests me from both a personal and professional perspective. This could be a product such as Microsoft Teams, or it could be an overarching subject such as accessibility, the humanization of IT, or training and certification. Participating in the community has brought me into contact with many others who are as passionate as I am, often about the same things that I am passionate about. It has given me a great sense of affinity, belonging, and of being accepted. In this community, everyone has a voice and every voice matters regardless of accolades, organizational hierarchy, or technical ability. And even though members may disagree with each other from time to time, everyone’s perspective and experience is valued, respected, and taken onboard. For me, it is the inclusiveness of the Microsoft Tech Community which is its defining feature and at the very heart of its success.
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