I often get asked about the relative worth of developer networks, user groups and professional certification. Are they a good idea? Well, the short answer is almost certainly yes isn’t it? But how much value do they add to your career?
Personally, I feel the greatest benefit they offer is ‘community’ i.e. the opportunity to network with peers and share ideas, opinions on emerging technologies – you know the sort of thing.
I’ve lost count of the amount of times I have stepped out of technical presentations at developer symposiums and asked the person next to me whether they got any value out of the content of the session – they almost always say, “nah, I didn’t learn much from that.” When I ask them again at the end of the week what they enjoyed most, they typically cite the chance to have networked with some likeminded individuals and chew the fat. This is the channel that developer networks and user groups should be opening up.
So whether it’s the MSDN, IBM Rational’s developerWorks, Sybase’s ISUG or even professional bodies such as the UK’s Institution of Analysts and Programmers – the key is ‘community’ as far as I see it. Not just local too OK? Let’s make it global and keep the ideas bouncing around the globe.