It took me a long time to realize how much I love learning and love helping others learn as well. I’ve brought that to work with me, hosting events, user groups, etc. I love being the person that helps you with that one introduction you’ve been dying to get. It feels great to help people develop a better professional self. However, it doesn’t matter how many links you see, how many people give you advice, YOU HAVE TO TAKE A STEP and own your own professional self. With that in mind here’s a list, surely incomplete, of some of my go-to resources.
Note: If you do contact any of these resources realize that most are volunteers with regular day jobs and while they are happy and eager to help, it might take a couple of days to get a response.
- INETA, the global group that helps with .NET Developer focused user groups. All the groups there are not hard-core .NET, but all have a .NET component to them. There’s xRM/CRM groups, XNA groups. Loads of them. Find a group near you, or a virtual group that suits your need.
- PASS, the Professional Association for SQL Server. These folks do for DBAs what INETA does for developers.
- GITCA, the Global IT Community Association. They do for IT Pros what the others do for their target as well.
- Community Megaphone, a great holding place for professional technology events. Here you’ll find user group meetings, code camps, special events, etc. You can visit the page, get their RSS, and submit your own event.
- Microsoft DPE (Developer Platform Evangelist) - a resource within Microsoft proper whose directive is to spread the word and connect YOU to learning opportunities. (this link is for US DPE search, to find yours outside of the US, search at Microsoft for your country DPE)
- DreamSpark- A program that offers developer tools for students for free (yes, free, sure there are requirements, but worth looking into)
- BizSpark- similar to DreamSpark, but for businesses. These tools have an expiration date, but also come with a mentor from an established firm.
- DigiGirlz- a traveling event/afternoon aimed at young women as a way to encourage them to give technology careers a try. It’s full of interactive activities and I have heard nothing but awesome things about the events.
- WomenBuild- you get to play with Lego’s here! Seriously, this is not a tech only event, but a great hands’ on group that uses creativity to bring out some differences we face as well as walk thru problem-solving.
- Microsoft MVPs have earned their awards based not only on an expertise of a certain technology, but based on their efforts in their professional community. Find one near you, not so near you, ask for help. It’s what we do.
- MSDN Forums- pretty much any category you could imagine, find it here. These are monitored and answered by the gurus themselves, it’s almost like free product support.
- Microsoft Regional Directors are a highly underutilized and under recognized resource. These are really the best of the best. Smart, helpful, these really are the expert to the experts. Don’t let the name fool you, they are not Microsoft employees, just people really good at what they do and people that enjoy spreading the word.