Interview with Kevin Remde on TechNet
Yesterday I had the privilege of being interviewed by Microsoft Senior IT Pro Evangelist Kevin Remde for his TechNet IT Manager webcast series. We had a great conversation about the importance of Community within the IT Pro profession.
You can listen to the interview here: http://bit.ly/iZcvRQ
We had the opportunity to cover many different areas in which being a part of the larger IT Community can positively influence an IT Pro in both their professional and their personal lives. Getting to interact and network with other members of our field is almost always a very positive experience, even if it is just to get different points of view on the things that we do day in and day out. There are few things in IT that are “black and white” or “wrong or right”, rather most decisions we make and systems that we build are done the way that we feel that it is “best”. Most of us over time fail to look around and see that what was “best” last year is no longer “best” this year and being a part of a discussion with someone with a different way of doing things can often help us to remove our “best blinders” even if we continue to do things the same way going forward. Worst case we end up with a better understanding of why we believe our way to be the best way for our situation.
One of the other things that Kevin and I had the chance to talk about was an area that is near and dear to my heart and which I have been doing my best to champion for a couple of years now – Public Speaking. One thing that I have become aware of over my many years in IT, is that many people in this field are lacking the ability to share their knowledge with others. Now please understand that I do realize that many people go into IT exactly because they like having the ability to work with machines and not with humans, and that speaking to a group of other people is not something they want to do. But the flip side of that is that a person with no ability to share their knowledge either via speaking or by writing has got a somewhat limited career path available to them. Someone who cannot share ideas with other business units, departments or managers will have a very hard time moving into an IT Manager role at any point in their future, and similarly someone who cannot describe and share their goals and plans for a coming year will rarely head a team or even achieve the best available IT Pro positions within their company. For that matter, when going for a job interview who gets the job first; someone who can state their mind and their ideas fluently and intelligently, or someone who has more knowledge but no skills when it comes to sharing that knowledge with others? I think that it quickly becomes evident that speaking skills not only make a person a better IT Pro, with far more doors opened to them over the span of their career, but it just makes them a more well-rounded person in life as a whole who is better able to interact with the people around them regardless of topic.
One of the ways I try to get IT Pros that I come into contact with, through user groups or other professional organizations, is to encourage them to get up and give a short talk on the subject of their choosing. This topic can be anything, from what they built in the workshop last weekend to how their child played in their last soccer game, I find that everyone has something that they are passionate about and that they like to talk to other people about. We start there, and then take the skills and comfort from that experience and then help the same person to talk about a topic in IT. Again, it is important to make it something that they are passionate about, the latest server they built or the new image they built for deploying the latest version of Windows, whatever it might be and it only has to be for 2-5 minutes (although most people find they have a hard time limiting the talk to 5 minutes once they find that passion). This then grows to more and longer talks over time, until someone who had a hard time saying their name in a room full of people now has no problem with giving a 30 minute talk on a number of different IT topics.
The last thing I wanted to mention that we discussed is the fact that I am spending the next year trying my best to establish IT Pro user groups anywhere and everywhere that there are not already existing groups throughout the U.S. and Canada. GITCA (the Global IT Community Association), which I have served and Chairman of the Board for North America for the past 2 years, has a great User Group Locator (http://www.gitca.org/UserGroups/Pages/default.aspx) which allows the user groups in North America to be seen quickly in a Bing Map format. Over the next 12 months, in my new role as Past-Chair and Advisor to the Board, I will be working to fill any existing open areas on that map.
To that end, if you are in a city without a local IT Pro user group PLEASE let me know. Comment on this post or send me an email so that I can get in touch with you and help you get the resources you need to get a new group up and running in your area. If there is already a group near you and you just did not know it I can help to put you in contact with them also.
I really want to say a huge Thank You to Kevin for the invitation and the opportunity to chat with him on his show yesterday. It was a lot of fun and hopefully a chance for people to learn a little more about what Community can do for you.