Today’s Internet-driven business world has changed the way that effective professionals learn and solve problems. The way we learn and solve problems has changed dramatically in the last decade. Imagine the tech world before the widespread adoption of the Internet as a tool for learning and discussion. At that time, the most productive workers were those who retained the most knowledge in their heads. Today, however, top performers are those who combine their own expertise with the experience and intelligence of their industry peers to quickly gain the information and help they need.
The key to being productive in the 21st century is having a global, online network. This isn't to discount the value of skills and knowledge gained through education and experience, but to explain the benefits associated with joining these communities. By participating in a global, online peer network, you can learn from other peoples’ mistakes, build a peer group of tech professionals, and create a measuring stick to gauge your own career development.
1. Learn From Other People’s Mistakes
You don’t have time to learn the hard way when working on your important projects. Experience matters, but takes time to develop. And technology is constantly changing and evolving, which makes it all the more challenging to get it right the first time. By joining an online technology community, you can pool the experience and expertise of thousands of tech experts, and make it work to your advantage.
Engaging in an online technology community allows you to:
- Validate technology purchases with others who already use it
- Identify common issues with upgrades and implementations
- Get help on tough problems as soon as you hit them, saving time and avoiding incorrect configuration
The purpose of an online community is to provide a knowledge base of commonly encountered issues, as well as a safe, reliable avenue for posting problems and getting them resolved.
Effective technology professionals know how to use online communities to learn from the experiences of others, and get help as soon as they need it.
2. Build a Peer Group of Technology Professionals
What are the industry standards for performance? How about up-time, project duration, and user adoption? For most technology professionals, these questions are commonplace, and the easiest way to answer credibly is to say, “Give me 24 hours and I will let you know.”
By building a peer group of experts in your field, you will have a place to go to find answers to these questions quickly. You can be a credible in-house expert for your organization. The key is to have the online relationships already established so you can pose a question to your peer group and get a rapid, educated answer.
A good online technology community will allow you to join topic-specific user groups where you can easily reach experts on any type of technology. Share your knowledge, learn new practices, and engage in discussions on the technologies you are most passionate about.
3. Measure Your Own Technology Career
You may have an intrinsic idea of how you stack up against other professionals in your field, but is there a way for you to truly measure your knowledge and success?
You may not care so much about competing with others in your field. You may rather want to understand if your career is progressing at an appropriate pace, and if you are being pushed to learn the right personal and technical skills that will enable you down the road.
Online technology communities allow you to publish content that displays your knowledge, to gain recognition for your accomplishments, and to see how you compare to other IT professionals in your community.
While your organization may not appreciate the depth of knowledge you have in specific technologies, the right online community will be a place for you to push yourself, be recognized and to learn the skills you need to enhance your career.
Ignoring the value of global online communities will leave you behind the curve with missed opportunities. If you haven’t already begun the process of building an online network of industry peers, get started today by finding the community that is right for you. To gain the most benefit, make sure that the community you choose gives you the opportunity to learn from peers and experts who have experience in your field. They can be a strong sounding board for you in your career and help you to build a network of technology professionals with whom you can share knowledge and expertise.
Depending on your motivations, it may also be a good idea to find a community with the features that you value most – for example, if you are looking for a challenge, joining a network that allows you to display your accomplishments and compete for recognition may help you to build skills in a manner that feeds your challenge-seeking personality. Whatever your needs may be, don’t waste another day letting your peer network grow without you. Join a global online community that connects you with tech industry peers that are will help you to grow your career today.