This is the next interview in the continuing series which is featured here “first” in the Canadian IT Managers (CIM) forum.
In this blog series, we talk with Sean O'Driscoll: Global Senior Director for CSS Community and MVP Worldwide, Microsoft Corporation.
We started our chat with Sean on Friday where I profiled Sean’s background. We continue our discussion with Sean…
Stephen: How can ICT professionals get involved in communities and how can they make contributions?
Sean: I’d actually give two simple suggestions here. First of all, give a visit to www.microsoft.com/communities. You might even want to bookmark it! This is the central page on Microsoft.com which leads the user to technical communities about Microsoft products – blogs, chats, webcasts, user groups, forums, newsgroups, etc. You can read a description in more detail about these communities at: http://www.microsoft.com/communities/bkst_column_43.mspx.
Let’s say you were interested in Microsoft Exchange Server. A click into the page above will take you to the Exchange community portal at http://www.microsoft.com/exchange/community/default.mspx where you can find Exchange blogs authored by Microsoft employees and external experts, information about Exchange user groups, meet Exchange Server MVPs and/or connect directly into community discussions about the product.
My second suggestion is to tap into http://search.msn.com and search for “<insert your hobby> community”. You could use that other search engine too, but I like this one. You might check out http://groups.msn.com which is a destination that has organized social communities hosted on MSN. To really understand the power of communities, I think it is really useful to go explore a community on a topic you are personally passionate about – and who knows, you just might find something really cool and interesting. Oddly enough, what really got me into communities wasn’t technology, but cooking – specifically BBQing, around which I have found many great communities I regularly participate in.
Stephen: What are the rewards for ICT professionals for community involvement?
Sean: The rewards simply go back to the motivations. It could be economical for you – the reward is the answers. It could be risk mitigation on decision making, or personal satisfaction from helping others, or it could just be a quick answer to a practical question you are working on right now. With most things, you get out of it what you put in - with communities that might not be true – a fairly small investment of time can get you exponential value back. It just so happens that most community experts start as lurkers and questioners and over time and in other communities begin to transform into answerers. I hope some of your readers become answers in some community, but in the end, the first step is to go tap in.
I’m also sometimes asked, ‘how can I become an MVP’? I wouldn’t recommend getting involved in Communities for the purpose of becoming an MVP. In my mind, awards aren’t things to be manufactured in terms of status. It happens as a by-product of a predominant trait coming to the surface – a sincere desire for helping others. It should be fairly natural. I don’t have a great formula to propose on this, but I think this is the right starting point – sharing your knowledge, skills and experiences with others.
In the next blog, Sean shares his thoughts on the MVP (Most Valuable Professional) program, common MVP traits, the future of the program and his top recommended resources.