Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Importance of Community

Folks in the IT community are often stereotyped as being pocket protector wearing nerds sitting day and night in front of their computer screens and rarely interacting with other human beings.  Unfortunately, this notion is often true and is more detrimental than many IT pros would care to admit.

Let’s face it, we are all busy and have enough job security to last us several lifetime’s so socializing with others who do what we do doesn’t often rise to the top of the priority list.  I personally would rather spend a quiet evening at home than spend time with “friends” out on the town.  That’s how I’m wired so I understand it isn’t easy to make gathering with others a priority.

Granted we are all great at being super independent and solving any problem with just our experience and a few Google searches but often times that is not efficient.  How long do you spend trying to solve a problem on your own before your just call one of your numerous support contracts?

There are 2 groups that I’m a part of from which I’ve reaped numerous benefits.  The first group is the CITRT, the Church Information Technology Round Table.  This is a national group of IT professionals that work for churches and non-profit ministries.  The second group is GLITS, the Greater Lafayette Information Technology Society.  This is a local group of IT professionals that work in and around the greater Lafayette area. 

These communities remind me that I’m not all alone in my struggles with technology but that there are others who are willing and able to help me.  The challenge is that I’m good at taking from these communities and learning from them but I need to get better at sharing with them and giving back.  That happens in person as well as electronically.

Not being a part of these groups also leads to missed opportunities.  I wouldn’t want to miss an opportunity to help those in the community around me because I didn’t want to spend time getting to know them so I could learn about their needs while at the same time they learn about mine.  I recently had the chance to help some local organizations in their use of social media because I was available to learn about the opportunity.  Synergy and not silos also applies to the Information Technology field.

So make a plan to get out and meet those around you who do what you do.  Plan to invest in them and allow them to invest in you.  And if you haven’t been out in the sun in a while then don’t forget the SPF 50.  Oh, leave your pocket protector on your desk.