After posting my Tips on Hosting a SharePoint Saturday Event last night, I got to thinking about an even more basic topic – how to build out your local SharePoint community….which got me thinking about my time at Microsoft. Building community was an ongoing topic for the Management Excellence Leadership Team (MELT), a volunteer-based network created by managers to support managers. The goal of MELT, and the broader Management Excellence Community (MEC), was to connect and energize managers, share best practices, and help develop prospective leaders within the company.
But if you really think about it, what’s so different about what we’re trying to do with the SharePoint community? SharePoint Saturday is a great learning opportunity for attendees and presenters, but aren’t the goals the same? We’re trying to connect and energize SharePoint users, admins, and architects. We’re trying to share best practices. We’re trying to develop new SharePoint leaders, speakers, and experts. So why not apply some of these key learnings from my time in the MELT to the SharePoint community?
So here’s my value add from all those lunch-time sessions with other managers, trying to figure out ways to get people involved: I call it Community Development 1-2-3:
First, get involved. Don’t sit on the sidelines. Do something. If your company does not have a SharePoint user group, start one. If your city or town does not have a user group, build one. If one exists, participate. Learn from others. Share your experiences. Help at events. Volunteer to help at the next SharePoint Saturday in your area. Reach out to the online community through forums, through Twitter, and through Facebook.
Second, bring a friend. If you don’t know anyone at the local user group, bring someone. Invite your colleagues, your manager, you partners and customers. Make it a team activity if you have direct reports. If you are a frequent attendee to your local SPUG, then you have no excuse but to share these great events with others. We are probably aware of those around us who are involved in SharePoint – if you’re not seeing those people at the SPUG, invite them. Take the initiative.
Third, keep learning. There is so much to learn about SharePoint. In conversations with Brian Culver, one of the Microsoft Certified Masters in SharePoint, he recognized that there is still much for him to learn (an MCM still has to learn? That just does not compute!). Keep learning, which will keep you motivated to follow the first two steps. Plus, the more you know, the more people will identify you as the local expert, making it easier to stay involved and to motivate others to get involved in the community. Next thing you know, you’ll be speaking at a SharePoint Saturday.
It’s very basic, I know. But simple is good, right? I promise you -- if you’re actively doing these three things, your local community will grow. And this simple community building tool can be applied to help you build out your internal SharePoint user group, to extend the reach of your local SharePoint User Group, or to help you promote the upcoming SharePoint Saturday in your area.
Go put it to practice. Good luck!