About 7-8 years ago I started on my official IT education with instructor lead online classes. One of the first things our teacher said already back then, was that Twitter was a good source of learning/information within the IT industry. This sounded interesting, so I dug up the password for my dusty Twitter account and took a look at some accounts he suggested to follow. This looked interesting.
As I carried on my education and day to day work I kinda forgot about this Twitter thing for a while. I got into a new job and remembered that Twitter was there. I started to follow people focusing on Skype for Business, and this was what my new role was about. Tried to reply if I had anything to contribute, but I felt I was not as knowledgable as others. I figured out I would start blogging about Skype for Business related issues I solved at work and see what would happen. Shortly after I lost my job due to the companies earnings were to low, so I put my blog on the shelf to collect dust. For about a year I had a non-relevant job to what I was educated to do. After getting into IT again after a year “off”, I had started to learn PowerShell and starting to write scripts that eased my co-workers day. I started to blog again, logged on to Twitter and even found a UC related group on “Facebook at Work”. In the work-related group, I started to share what I was doing and started to get good feedback on what I did. This felt rewarding and made me want to do more. I started to answer questions on Microsoft Tech Community also. I was somewhat active, but not that emerged. Apparently, I was a bit more active than I thought, as I was awarded as the member of the week at Tech Community. This made me happy. Did my actions help others? It was good to get a confirmation like this.
It was first when I started at my current employer 2 years ago I fully got into doing community work. I started blogging weekly and being very active on Twitter. This helped me grow my knowledge at work and help others on the way. If I found a solution at work, I blogged about this. This way I learned it even better, as you need to explain it very detailed and on a simpler level.
After a couple of months, I got to go to my first conference after starting to be active in the community. I finally was going to meet all these knowledgable people I had interacted with on Twitter. How should I go about? I’m an introvert and thought it sounded a bit scary to meet them face to face. What if they see through me and notice I’m not that knowledgable as I appear online? I must admit it was a leap to go from behind the keyboard and saying hi in real life. But it turned out that they also were just regular down to earth people! I had some great conversations at this conference and connected well.
Throughout the next year, I started feeling more confident and got more deep knowledge on the way. I remember a Twitter thread where several MVPs and someone from the Skype for Business product group was discussing an issue. Who found the answer? I did! This was the first time I didn’t feel like an imposter. After a while, I even got my first speaking gig and felt great about it even if it was way more out of my comfort zone than I had ever been. Up to and during the conference I got really great support from the community and my co-workers. This was a good rush, to stand in front of people and share my knowledge.
After some months I spoke at a conference in Singapore and after that attended Microsoft Ignite in Orlando. I meet the same people that I had to meet at other conferences. After the conferences were done for the day, the same group of people usually found something social to do. It was fun hanging out with these people! Now, after several more conferences, I still look forward to meeting everyone. I consider many of them my friends. Who would have thought community interaction was this fun? My career has grown because of this, and I have even grown as a person.
So what’s next? I try to focus on helping others in their way to achieving the same. If you see someone maybe with almost none followers on twitter post a blog about something, comment with some positive things you have to say about their work. This means the world to someone when you are starting out. It for sure did that to me. Also when you’re at a conference and see someone standing alone, go over and say hi. Remember how scary it was for you the first time. You always have something to talk about, since you both are at the same conference.
To round this blog post off, reach out to me on Twitter if you have any questions or need advice. I’m happy to help!