This article is contributed. See the original author and article here.
This article is written by Office Development MVP, David Warner, who discusses the importance of being vulnerable, and why it’s important to share professional AND personal passions with others in the community.
Have you ever felt afraid to share your passions and interests? Don’t be – Passion is a powerful emotion; Anyone who possesses it can achieve their aspirations previously thought to be impossible.
In our daily lives – especially in our professional lives – passion is vital to our happiness. Aside from sleeping, we likely spend more waking hours doing our job than we do performing any other task.
While this concept applies to every industry on earth, it is vitally important to the technology industry.
We don’t write software for machines; we write software for humans, and our passion translates into the quality of our software.
This is especially applicable to the Microsoft 365 ecosystem.
“Why is it so applicable to the Microsoft 365 ecosystem?”, you ask?
When we think about how fast the technology in the Microsoft 365 ecosystem progresses, the rapid progression makes it difficult to keep up with the change. Keeping up with this accelerated pace of change is not easy. It requires hard work, determination and… you guessed it, passion!
Quite often, our personal interest in the technology is what drives our passion. But, let us be honest, sometimes we may find ourselves working in a situation where we do not have much support from management and peers to keep that passion alive. Alone, we may find it hard to sustain that passion.
The Microsoft 365 community is a community where you’ll never be alone. To me, it is one of the most inclusive and collaborative global communities that you’ll ever be a part of! We could all use such a community right now, especially at a time where we’re all asked to socially distance, where those comforting daily routines allow us to keep in touch/ get actual face-time with people in our community are now a thing of the past, and where we can’t hug or even simply shake someone’s hand. More than ever, we need to lean into community.
So, how do you get involved? Read on!
The Who, Not Just the What
We have all spent time researching a topic or learning how to complete a given task. We’ve all had to read blog posts or watch videos that someone else in the community authored.
When you think back on a favorite blog post, do you only think about the topic? More than likely, you think about who (i.e the human) wrote the blog post. If you’ve watched a video, you’ve most likely seen or heard the author.
“I loved that video by April Dunnam,” you may say. “She’s always awesome!”.
You may even learn to associate some of those community authors as your “go-to” resources when doing your research.
The point is: it isn’t just the technical content that helps us, it’s the fact that we feel connected with the person – the human – behind the blog post or video.
You might have connected with that person over a similar technology interest, but maybe you also learned that they like the same sports team as you do, or that they share the same favorite food as you do. Maybe they love dogs or cats as much as you do. That common human passion is what strengthens your connection with them.
Other community members have interests, likes, and passions outside of work just like you do!
I’m a very shy person. By forcing myself to step out of my shell, I have been able to learn things I have in common with so many in the community. Or at the very least, I have learned some fascinating facts about the passions of others that have helped me create a much stronger personal friendship with them.
For example, Hugo Bernier used to be a Chef and we connected on cooking (we also share the same hairstyle). Sebastian Levert and I share a love of Hockey. Emily Mancini and I love setting up social community games and trivia.
I would have never learned about these passions we have in common had I not looked beyond their technology interests. I reached out to other community members to ask them questions about their passions, or strike up a conversation, and in doing so, I formed a relationship on a more personal level. Knowledge management experts say that when you identify with another person as a peer, you adopt their knowledge more easily than if you don’t feel connected to them.
When I listen to Chris Kent talk about SharePoint List Formatting, for example, it isn’t just another random presenter who happens to talk about warrior horses; it is my friend Chris (who’s just as funny in real life, if not funnier!) who’s talking to me about something I know he’s passionate about, and I can’t help but want to learn more from him.
This personal connection can be a two-way street. I am learning about the passions of others by pro-actively collaborating, but how do I contribute back to help foster a stronger personal human connection in the community?
Share Your Passions
As you get more involved in the community, do not be afraid to share your passions with others, and don’t forget about the passions you have which go beyond just the technology.
For example, it is no secret that I am deeply passionate about connecting with others in the community on a personal level. I really believe that the more we connect beyond the tech, the stronger our relationships in the community are and the more positive our interactions will be with one another.
When the COVID outbreak initially hit – in early March – quarantine began to really affect the emotional and mental health of everyone around the globe. I wanted to, in a very small way, to make a difference and share something good that had nothing to do with technology.
I began an initiative I named “Comfort in a Cup”. Each day I randomly select a community member, (ironically technology still makes an appearance…!) and virtually buy them a cup of coffee or tea from a retailer of their choice.
The idea was to bring a bit of brightness and joy in an otherwise dark time and difficult time – it is a small but meaningful way to connect with each other, and have socially-distant/virtual coffee together while conversing and getting to know one another better.
Ultimately, a cup of coffee or tea is not a life-altering gift, but my hope is that the initiative resulted in random smiles at a time when something to smile about was so few and far between.
It’s also a reminder to those people in the community that they matter, and that their contributions to the community make a difference.
The community feedback around “Comfort in a Cup” has been incredibly positive. Everyone has been very supportive, and I have had the pleasure of getting to know so many amazing community members by having virtual coffee together.
The moral of the story: don’t be afraid to act on or share your passion within the community. You never know who else shares your passion, wants to learn more about your passion, or where it might take you. By being willing to share your passion, you enable both you and the other person to create a lasting connection.
Who knows, you might even make a new friend in the community! :)
Now that I have hopefully inspired you to not only look for opportunities to learn about the passions of others in the community but also to share about your own passions, you might be wondering,
“Where do I find these community members and learn about their passions?”.
Below you will find a collection of community resources that can help you get more involved and connected with others in the Microsoft 365 Community. I strongly encourage you to connect, communicate, and collaborate with the Microsoft 365 community and its members.
Start getting involved TOMORROW!
Why wait to plug into community? Join us at a Humans of IT Microsoft Reactor event TOMORROW, October 22 at 10am PT for the topic on “You Can’t Spell Community without ‘U’: How to Foster Belonging in M365“. Join us for this group discussion with MVPs and folks in the community like @Hugo Bernier @Tracy van der Schyff @Luise Freese as we share about ways to collaborate and get involved in giving back to your community. We’ll discuss about how we can unite globally and offer guidance on where to find support, resources, and best practices on leveraging M365 solutions to drive positive social impact. Most importantly, we want to hear from YOU too – so join us and share your ideas on what has worked well in your local communities!
Register here (it’s FREE + open to everyone globally!):
Patterns and Practices Community
- Collaborative and inclusive collection of tools, guidance, and members meant to help you extend Microsoft 365 to your needs following best practices. #SharingIsCaring
- Beau Cameron and I host a webinar wherein we interview a guest who is a member of the community. What makes this webinar unique is we focus on the personal side of the guest. We cover topics such as favorite places to visit, favorite movies, food, and what makes them who they are from a personality perspective.
- We believe that relationships in the community are stronger when we better can appreciate the personalities of one another in the community.
- There is a very active collection of community members on Twitter. I’ve created a list of the most inclusive and active members. This list includes the Twitter account and a link to their blog or website.
See you in the community, Humans of IT!
Brought to you by Dr. Ware, Microsoft Office 365 Silver Partner, Charleston SC.