There has been a lot of chatter about the state of the community lately. Some positive and some very negative, some constructive, some pointless. Folks have been talking about the International SBS Group Leaders community, the SBSC community, the MS Community, the SMB Community and the IT Pro community. So which is it that matters most and is it healthy?
My opinion? (I assume that is why your are reading this…) Each community is only as healthy as it is perceived to be by each individual member. Recently there was more than a few complaints about how bad last year’s premier SMB community event SMB Nation. Attendees from prior years talked about how bad it sucked and that it was a product pimp-fest. I didn’t see that. As for myself and my local SBS co-lead we loved it! It was our first exposure to the international SMB/SBS community and it blew me away. Not all the presentations scored a 10 but for the money, I give the overall experience an 11 out of 10. No mind you I had nothing to compare it to so my expectations were well, none. I guess it wasn’t too hard to exceed those expectations.
My challenge to you as you start planning your 2008 year (yes, it is time to start planning that too) is to make a decision to give to a community that you believe in or that has given to you. Give in what ever way you are able. Some can write white papers and some can only attend meetings or chat sessions. Either way, participation is the beginning of giving and multiple folks giving is what makes communities healthy. Even if only in a small way, try giving back each week, month or when you can.
There are a ton of great events, chat sessions, newsgroups, forums, Groove sites and the like out there so there is no excuse. If you are Level Platforms user then share a template on their forum. Zenith or ConnectWise user, try to make it to one of their events. MS Parnter, check out a partner briefing. Go and get to know folks. You may be surprised that you really do have something to give.
Last but now least, keep your eye on Autotask. I’ve seen the new user interface due to be released next week and I can tell you that they have hit a home run. How? By listening to those in the their user community I know Autotask has been working hard on launching a new community site that will allow me to learn and share with other Autotask users. I’ve see a preview and will be encouraging (or shaming as needed) all Autotask users to participate. I’ll be sure to share the details as they allow.
See you in Seattle in three days!