How I Stumbled Into the #vCommunity and How You Can Too

Normally I’m a technical guy who rarely blogs about things that are not technical in nature. But this month I signed up for a contest called BLOGTOBER: Tech Edition. (Side Note: If you have even a passing interest in blogging, I encourage you to go sign up here.)  I figured I would start off Blogtober  with a thought piece about how I got involved in such things as a blogging challenge.

How I Got Started

I started out on a help desk taking phone calls. But early on I recognized something that holds true for technology jobs. The person who shows interest and the willingness to learn moves up. So I poured myself into my studies. I tirelessly searched the internet for study material for whatever certification I happen to be studying at the time. This is when I found and fell in love with vBrownbag, which was my first introduction to a technology community.

After about a year at my help desk job, I got promoted and handed one of my favorite projects of all time. The company I worked for did not use virtualization in their environment, but my boss at the time encouraged me to change that. Having no experience with VMware, I was doubtful, but not deterred. Over the next year I converted the majority of our infrastructure from physical to virtual using only the Mastering VMware book by Scott Lowe and the vBrownbag YouTube videos. It was an amazing experience.

I am blessed to say that as time passed, I have moved up and changed jobs a few times. I am now a VMware administrator for an international children’s hospital system, a role I truly love. Now that we’ve got the background out of the way, this is where the real story begins.

My Journey to the vCommunity

In June of this year I had the opportunity to attend HPE Discover 2018. Being excited to go,  I naturally wanted to share. So I get on Twitter and sent out the following tweet:

At the time I rarely used Twitter, so this next part might seem strange to all you Twitter vets out there. I was surprised to find that people I didn’t know commented that they were coming too. One of them was Tim Davis (@vtimd) who I happened to follow on Twitter. So I thought, “Ok, cool. It might be random, but I’m going to say hey to this guy if I see him at the conference.”

Then, the next day I saw this tweet:

At this point, I was really intrigued. Tim Smith (@tsmith_co) sent out a tweet looking to meet up with some people socially at the event. Again this might be the norm for those versed in the vCommunity and Twitter, but for me at the time it was revolutionary. Feeling like I was on a roll from the earlier tweet, I hit LIKE. I thought, “Why not? If I see this guy, I guess I’ll say hey!” For the next week, I searched Twitter looking for events at the conference and people to meet up with. (I actually never got to meet up with Tim Smith, but his idea inspired me nonetheless.)

Fast forward to the conference. By then I was regularly using Twitter and really upping the number of people I followed. I also naturally started to engage more with those people. At the conference, I met Tim Davis (@vtimd) who was working at the VMware booth. Admittedly, it was a bit out of my comfort zone, but I went up to him and introduced myself. In the conversation we started talking about careers and he said, “Getting on Twitter was the best career move I have ever made.” I remember thinking, “What?” It didn’t really register with me then that Twitter could be such a great catalyst to expanding your network both socially and professionally.

Being the vBrownbag fan that I am, I eventually made my way over to the vBrownbag stage. Again, a bit out of my comfort zone, but I started introducing myself to some of the presenters that day. I met Philip Sellers (@pbsellers), Luigi Danakos  (@NerdBlurt), Matt Crape (@MattThatITGuy), and the man himself, Alastair Cooke (@DemitasseNZ). I had a chance to ask questions and hear how these guys got involved in what I would later come to know as the vCommunity. As fate would have it, Matt happened to be doing a talk called “Growing Your Career Through the vCommunity”. You can check it out here. After his great talk, he personally encouraged me to get involved. It was as simple as that. Get involved.

When I got home to Tampa, I committed myself to follow up on Matt’s words. I had been attending our local VMUG, so at the next meeting I voiced a desire to get involved. Turns out there was an opening for a co-leader:

Now You Do It

So there you have it, my journey into the vCommunity. But its not enough to tell you about my experience without encouraging YOU to “Get Involved.” As it turns out, its not that hard. The community is growing and vibrant. There is no barrier to entry. Ken Nalbone (@kennalbone), in his blog post titled Live Outside Your Comfort Zone. It Will Be Worth It, gives the most practical advice I have seen about how to get involved in the vCommunity. He says, “I decided to march straight up to anyone I recognized that I had not spoken with before and introduce myself.” In a nutshell, its that easy.

Finally, one thing I didn’t consider are the tangible benefits of getting involved in the vCommunity. Through such programs as VMUG Advantage, vExpert and other vendor-sponsored activities, you can really get access to great software and more swag than you know what to do with.

For the tl;dr folks, behold!

Jamey’s Guide to Getting Involved in the vCommunity
  1. Create a Twitter account.
  2. Follow all the people on this list.
  3. Genuinely engage with them. It does not matter that you have not met them in person.
  4. Don’t be shy, be bold (even if it takes you out of your comfort zone a bit :)) Everyone is welcoming and there are no dumb questions.
  5. Watch Matt’s vBrownbag talk at least 5 times.
  6. Read these post about others’ experiences: Ken, Tony and another Tony
  7. Go to VMUGs/VTUGs/UserCons, basically any technology event you can.
  8. Give back, however that looks for you.
  9. Most importantly, don’t think you don’t have anything to contribute, because you do.
  10. “Get Involved”

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