As an IT professional, you should make it a practice of attempting to increase your people network. Having a LinkedIn profile and joining virtual associations helps a little bit, but you need to do more. You need to meet people face to face. One of the absolute best ways of doing this is attending community and mainstream IT events in your area. Attending events gives you a chance to meet other IT professionals in various fields of expertise. For example, I attended a Microsoft TechNet in-person event titled “Windows 7 Deployment Firestarter” located at the Microsoft office in Tampa, FL today. It was a fantastic event. Now, some of you may have looked at my previous blog posts and said, “Joe, you already know quite a bit about Windows deployment. Why attend this event?”. I have 2 reasons:
Reason #1 – I don’t know everything. Attending this specific event increased my knowledge and skillset with Windows deployment beyond my current level of expertise. In fact, both of the presenters at this event, Blain Barton and John Baker, went over things in both MDT 2010 and the Application Compatibility Toolkit 5.6 that I never knew. In general, attending events will guarantee that you WILL learn something new even if there is an area that you are considered an “expert”.
Reason #2 – To increase my people network. The power of networking is incredible. In IT, someone in your people network may be able to help you find a job, or give you guidance on a problem, introduce you to a new idea or new technology, and more. Maintaining professional relationships is integral.
With that being said, I am sure you are very interested in finding some IT events in your area! Here are a couple of links to help get you started.
http://www.technetevents.com/ – This is a Microsoft TechNet site that hosts listings of in-person TechNet events in your geographical area. Case in point: The event that I attended today I found by searching for IT events in central Florida on this website.
http://www.spiceworks.com/free-it-community-network/ – Spiceworks is a very popular network management software suite used by hundreds of companies worldwide. Many of the features of the application include a Help Desk ticket module, IT asset inventory, network map tool, and built in Knowledgebase search and IT Forums. But, built into the tool (once you create a login ID), is IT Community groups. You can join community groups in your geographical area. Every group has at least one person who arranges get-togethers every now and then. This is another way to meet others in your area and increase your people network.
Finally, use Google or Bing to search for professional associations in your area. For example, I live in central Florida. I searched “IT professionals Orlando” and several results popped up….