Anna with the Community Reporters of Microsoft Ignite 2018.
I just landed in Orlando FL and I’m bracing myself for a big week at Microsoft Ignite. This is my 4th Microsoft Ignite, and I have been responsible for community since Atlanta 2016. I have been pondering on what community means to me, especially as I prepare for a panel discussion hosted by Sue Hanley on this very topic (Add it to your schedule here: https://myignite.techcommunity.microsoft.com/sessions?q=BRK1104).
Microsoft Ignite is the biggest milestone in my calendar. We spend the better part of a year planning this thing, and to be responsible for community is an honour and privilege. However, it’s a fairly broad, nebulous term, to me and to many others, but it’s at the very core of the event. I wanted to express my take on what community means in the context of the event and Microsoft as a whole.
Community is nothing without people.
I’ve been to a few events in my time, most are fairly forgettable. You go to sessions, maybe explore the expo, grab some swag. The best events leave you inspired with ideas and connections you never would have had without the event. You could have met people during an interactive roundtable or unconference session and continued the discussion over lunch. You may have struck a conversation with someone waiting in line for coffee about your favourite sessions then realized you’ve been talking on Twitter for months prior! At Microsoft Ignite, we are fostering connections with people. The community at Microsoft Ignite is unique because you develop friendships with people you may have never crossed paths with. As a natural cynic, I have been shocked at how accepting the community is. You might feel you are different, but with community you find a place where you belong. The community welcomes everyone from all backgrounds, different countries. You get to know them, build relationships, create friendships, find mentors. People come to Microsoft Ignite for the tech, but I’m extremely proud that it has become a platform to discuss non-traditional topics. I challenge you to make time for a non-tech topic at Microsoft Ignite. Whether it’s being an introvert, autism, unique career journeys or diversity these are all topics that impact us as a community. During a time where the world seems vastly divided, the exchange of ideas, healthy debates and extended dialogue across continents helps makes the world a little smaller.
Community is about giving back.
What amazes me about this community is how many people are willing to volunteer their time, knowledge and experience to help others. We have hundreds of volunteers powering Microsoft Ignite, some are willing to stand for hours at a booth just to see if they can answer someone’s burning question. It’s easy to be cynical, but the community members people trust are the ones who are most altruistic. They’re not trying to sell you anything, or make you feel dumb for asking a question. The only agenda is giving back to the community, because everyone is trying to learn while they’re here and it is the community has helped them build this knowledge in the first place. I have been floored by the response to my tweet here, and I wanted to include a sample of the responses:
Making friends all over the world who are all just awesome. Always giving, helpful and supportive when you most need it. Whether it be tech related or not. It’s an honour to serve them knowing they have my back. Inclusion is what it’s about #Communityrocks #Communityrocks #RE365
— Phil Worrell #Re365 :united_kingdom: in :switzerland: (@Worrelpa) October 4, 2019
Participating in my various tech communities allows me to make sure that the ladders that helped me find a career I never expected are there for others – non-traditional folks like me who might not otherwise find their way in tech! #communityLendsAHand
— Tashas[E]v (@TashasEv) October 8, 2019
Community is family. Like family, I am cared for, nurtured and accepted. With open arms, I am unconditionally loved. Because of this extraordinary privilege, I am always grateful & excited to give back, share and help others grow to be their best self.#HumansOfIT
— Dux Raymond Sy (@meetdux) October 8, 2019
Community is a crew of people who’ve GOT YOU no matter your job title, your neurodiversity…or your bad day. They’re the family you get to choose!
— Dona Sarkar (@donasarkar) October 4, 2019
In all honesty, I love the community because there are so many like minded people and great minds all over the place, willing to help others selflessly. It’s such a great resource of knowledge learning that is unmatched by anything.
— Christopher Webb (@ChrisWebbTech) October 5, 2019
The community helped me find my feet, my passion, and uplift me. I am part of a caring, sharing, highly skilled and intelligent global team who never leave any one behind. That is this community. :purple_heart::blue_heart:❤
— Scary Lou Boo (blame Ned) (@SynStalker) October 4, 2019
Community is about being a good human being and having someone’s back when they need help
— Gregor Suttie – Azure Greg :black_flag:?????? (@gregor_suttie) October 4, 2019
I don’t have a lot of money, but I do have skills and time. #community let’s me donate technology and consulting that would be too costly or time-consuming to explore. I get back happiness.
— Keith Whatling #PowerAddicts MVP (@KeithWhatling) October 7, 2019
Seeing people share their knowledge & time, and helping others is what I love about #community. The number of lives I’ve seen changed by communities like #thekrewe and #msignite are immeasurable. #community is the glue for success in our growing, inter-connected online world.
— Michael Bender @ Home (@MichaelBender) October 4, 2019
If you meet someone one of our community staffers, please take the time to thank them. You can find them proctoring Hands-On Labs, Workshops, staffing Microsoft booths, at Community Central and more. If you have more time, ask them what communities they belong to and how community has helped them get to where they are today. Whether it’s people volunteering their knowledge to deliver sessions, or offering their time to staff the event, community is built with the bonds you make with people.
Community is not about us, it’s about you.
Microsoft could have easily said “No” to community content and made this a wholly ‘Microsoft’ show, giving us a chance to have the floor on everything we wanted to share about our products and services. But Microsoft Ignite is not just about us, we want to hear the voice of the community. Only the community can share a perspective that is unique from Microsoft’s. As community members, you have the unique experience of being a user, an admin, a developer to tell the world how you use our products, showing what may be a better way to apply them in specific scenarios. And usually these sessions are delivered in style! Read some of the verbatim feedback from last year’s community sessions for a sample of the reactions.
– “Great session! I am stunned by the possibilities of ARM in a RDS deployment.”
– “Love the easy to remember busted myths and the stats to back them up. Very helpful to take back to my org.”
– “<NAME REDACTED> is so dynamic! I wasn’t even going to attend and happened to be nearby and she just pulled me right in! Awesome!!! This is such a great topic and so important ❤️”
– “I wish this had been a WHOLE day long and not just 20 minutes. <NAME REDACTED> gave me examples that I use tomorrow to make our O365 tenant better. Thank <NAME REDACTED> for making this conference so much better… ;-)”
– “Brought his content to life like no one I have seen do. Incredible!”
– “Awesome! Didn’t know that a lot of these tools existed!”
– “Best session I’ve attended in the five years of coming to ignite.”
– “this may have been the best session of the conference. great info. wish it had been longer than 45 so he could have gone into even more detail as i believe he had more to say.”
– “Awesome information. Great guidance for those of us already in the cloud for how to get things right and even better for the greenfield deployments.”
– “He did a great job aligning the 10 critical steps needing to be in place with an overall azure implementation. Albeit the interpretation of the 10 may vary but they are still good”
– “<NAME REDACTED> did a fantastic job of breaking the components of Azure governance down and he is a fantastic speaker. This gave me the groundwork I need to move forward with establishing proper governance in my Azure environment.”
– “<NAME REDACTED> awoke something within me that has long lied dormant. I learned a little about provisioning, but a lot about myself. I’m heading home with a fully provisioned soul.”
– “Good to see other strategies to managingsp site creation. I’ve seen <NAME REDACTED> provisioning on rails last year. The idea presented came from a functional place. This was more technical, dev ops and deployment options. Good to see tech behind the solution and tools to build it.”
Community powers Microsoft Ignite.
We owe it to you to make this an amazing event. Thank you for all the great conversations and feedback over the years. We are thinking of you and your experience when we plan, design and deliver the event. Thank you for keeping our spirits up and encouraging us to experiment and evolve. We are attempting to do some different things this year, and always welcome your feedback. To our community speakers and staffers, thank you for volunteering your time, for letting us steal you away from your families and work to be with us. We couldn’t do this without you!
See you in Orlando!