What I don’t want this post to come across as is a Hey look at me type of post. It is not. Instead, I want to share my journey into the vCommunity over the last couple of years and share with you some of the great groups and resources I have stumbled across on the way.
Where it all began
If you have any familiarity with IT communities, you may well know that each discipline usually has some kind of product champion, advocacy or influencer type of program to go with it. I believe the Microsoft MVP program has been around the longest but there are many others out there.
I could only dream of being part of such a group but in 2016 I was fortunate enough to become a member of the Veeam Vanguard program. Now, this wasn’t because I was particularly active on social media, a blog post writer, public speaker or any of that jazz. It was because I use Veeam day in, day out at work. Over the course of many years, I got to know some of the product managers, pushed for product features and beta tested new features in the software. These types of programs are not always about being in the social media limelight, they are about representing a brand to its best without being a fanboy about it. Opinions, good or bad are always welcome.
Joining the ranks of the Veeam Vanguard opened up new opportunities to talk to like-minded people. This is also the first time I heard about Slack, that chat room app that you would think the world stops spinning if it goes down! Slack was a foreign concept to me, but now I see it as a really valuable tool. Having the ability to ask questions about products and pretty much being guaranteed to get a sensible response, is awesome.
The Vanguard co-ordinators also organised a get together of all the Vanguards from across the globe to a venue in London in 2016. Again, meeting up with a group of pretty much strangers was something I had not done before and to be honest put me outside my comfort zone, but it is something I do not regret doing. Some of the people I met that day I now truly consider as my friends.
Being part of one group of like-minded people, exposed other communities that they are part of. VMware’s vExpert program is one such community that sounded great and I wanted to try and become part of. To improve my chances of being accepted as a vExpert I started to push myself to do things I had never done before. Writing regular content for my blog is one of them, finding out about and attending VMUG (VMware User Group) events and eventually speaking at a VMUG event was another. The thought of public speaking terrified me, but its another one of those things I do not regret doing. I encourage you all to try it out! One thing I have learned is that everyone at these community events is interested in the same thing, they wouldn’t be there otherwise. If you have a story to tell about how you fixed something or got it to work for you, honestly, get up and talk about it. These community events are not solely about vendor pitches!
2017 I was awarded vExpert status and access to another Slack group. Slack groups seem to be a common theme amongst these communities but I think one of the most valuable assets. I was able to virtually surround myself with more super smart people and information about even more events and community stuff.
Call it greedy, call it a thirst for more knowledge, call it what you want, I wanted more involvement with more communities, but what else was there? Staying within my comfort zone, a few of my aforementioned Veeam Vanguard friends started the UK Veeam User Group in 2016. After I spoke at one of their events in Manchester in 2017 they asked me if I would like to join the leadership team. I jumped at the chance. I see it as one way of being able to give back to the IT community. Giving back is important to me. Without people giving up their spare time for the community, then there is no community.
There were other things I kept seeing crop up, some were relevant, some not so much. TechFieldDay was one of those events that seemed relevant. If you don’t know what TechFieldDay is, go and check out the website and even think about applying to become a delegate, another thing you will not regret. TL:DR it is a 3 – 4 day whirlwind tour of selected vendors premises where they pitch a product and you as a delegate grill them on the how the what and the why and its broadcast live for everyone to see. I was lucky enough to be one of those delegates in 2017.
Then there are some groups that seemed not so relevant to me at the time, but I wanted to join anyway to see what was going on those worlds. NetApp United is one such group. It is full of passionate, smart people who know a lot about NetApp, and there is also me, who knows nothing about NetApp! I was upfront on my application though and stated I wanted to learn more about the technology. The program does not disappoint. There have even been tutorials on how to write better blog posts, increase interaction on social media, the works.
Fast Forward to 2018
By now I have attended local VMUG events regularly, hosted UK Veeam User Group events, blogged a few blogs, tweeted a few tweets and importantly met a lot of intelligent, enthusiastic and all-round awesome people.
What else is out there? I really wanted to start to push myself outside of my comfort zone. I guess you could say my bread and butter product stacks revolve around VMware and backup solutions. But hey, this pesky public cloud is a thing. Meetup.com is one of those gems I wish I had found earlier. I never knew there were so many tech events local to me! I have attended the local Azure and AWS user groups and it is refreshing to listen to people talking about things I have next to no clue about. Being very much an Ops person, it’s nice to see what the Dev people are doing and seeing that DevOps convergence in action. Every day is a school day.
Other highlights include being part of the Oracle Ravello bloggers day and appearing on TechReckonings vExpert webcast.
I guess what I have learned is that there is something for everyone out there if you want it. Check out sites like Meetup or Eventbrite, search Twitter for people talking about topics you are interested in and join in any conversations there. Hit up your favorite search engine for the topic you are looking for and a myriad of blog posts will likely pop up.. Do not be afraid to say hello to someone online or at one of these events, they are likely just like you.
Don’t be scared to step outside of your cozy little corner in the IT world. Explore what’s out there, learn new things and remember, most people are in the same boat. Embrace the community with open arms and it will look after you.
The soundtrack to my community life
Amongst all the community stuff you find out about a lot of podcasts focused around that community. As well as being a guest on some of them, I regularly tune into the following podcasts.
- Virtually Speaking Podcast
- 10 on Tech by ActualTechMedia
- Veeam Community Podcast
- Open TechCast
- Nerd Journey
- VMware Communities Roundtable
- The On-Premise IT Roundtable
And many more.
Vendor focused events
There are other opportunities to meet up with people that are not at community-driven events, below is a sample of some of the places I have learned new things and met with people.