When I started programming, I had no clue about the wider technical community. It was several years before I went to my first user group. Since then, I’ve found others (thank you Meetup). The format of each is a bit different, but I enjoy them all.

But sometimes it’s hard to get away for an evening. We’ve all got busy schedules and other obligations contending for our time. I’ve got 4 kids, so there’s always something going on. How else can I get involved? What other opportunities are available?

After watching Get Involved!, I realize I’m barely scratching the surface of what’s out there.

Scott Hanselman and Rob Conery offer suggestions and advice on how you can get out there, and get involved. Blogging, Twitter, Github, StackOverflow, User Groups and Conferences: all of this can make you a happier, more productive developer and inspire you to take your career to the next level.

If you’re unfamiliar with any of the above technologies, Scott and Rob explain each one, and how you can get started. They also share their personal experience and insights from years of using each of these technologies.

Some take-away thoughts (a mixture of what they shared, and how it resonated with me):

  • (On Blogs) Scott says that if you feel so excited about your craft that you can’t keep from sharing it with others, you might consider blogging. Blogging is not a thing in-and-of itself, but a tool for sharing our passions. How lucky are we to be in a field that can challenge us every day, that we can make a career out of but enjoy for fun too?
  • (On Twitter) Scott suggested following all kinds of people (not just technical people) and to follow the whole person (from the technical tweets to what they had for breakfast). I’ve unfollowed several people in the past because their tweets weren’t “technical” enough. Why should I care what else they’re doing? But the point isn’t just technology; it’s about community. It’s not just about computers; it’s about connecting with other humans.
  • (On Github) Every project online needs more documentation and better tests. Although I’ve had a few interests, I’ve never joined a project… primarily because I wasn’t sure what I could offer. Or more likely because I thought I had to offer something grandiose. But we can all pitch in at whatever level were capable of.
  • (On StackOverflow) Jon Skeet shares a bit about SO too. As someone who’s reasonably active, I have to say it’s been rewarding. If you don’t participate, or you only jump on to ask a question, you’re missing out. Follow a tag you’re familiar with (I frequent the C# tag), jump in and start answering questions. Here’s some of mine that involved conversing with other members of the community, just to show that we can all learn from one another:
  • Moving Controls from One Tab Page to Another
  • Using LINQ with a WHERE to ask for multiple possible results without redundant “||” commands
  • Assigning code to a variable

If you’re like me, and you want to get involved but aren’t sure where to start, I’d definitely recommend their video. 2 hours well spent. Plus, it’s free! :D