Anyone that knows me, knows my passion for community. This comes from the appreciation of so many people that have helped me over the years on their own time and free of charge because of their own passion for community. While I have seen this behavior in other IT “communities,” the SharePoint community is a special group that loves sharing knowledge with others. (It is right in the name!)
I was introduced to this concept about 14 years ago in my local Dallas-Ft Worth SharePoint User Group (DFWSPUG then, now O365 Community). As a newbie, it was there I found experts in a technology I was desperately trying to learn and not only did they teach us during the meetings, they offered themselves up to be contacted anytime. And they meant it! I know because I called often. Some members were Microsoft employees. Others were MVPs or MCMs. Most of us were mere SharePoint users and developers that were just helping each other expand our knowledge of the platform so that we could help our companies or customers. There are too many to name here, but a special shoutout goes to Eric Shupps(@eshupps), Kirk Evans(/in/kaevans), Miguel Wood(/in/miguelwood), and Corey Roth(@coreyroth) for answering so many questions I had during those early days (and still do!)
While I suffer from a horrible case of Imposter Syndrome, I must acknowledge that I have grown tremendously as a developer and architect in this space. I even started speaking in small, local events in 2014 and have been tremendously blessed to be accepted at many events, large and small, over the years. I have always loved teaching, so this was a way to give back to this gracious community. Now, Microsoft has embraced the open source approach to many of its products and the SharePoint Patterns & Practices(PnP) Ecosystem has led the way in showing how Microsoft employees and non-Microsoft professionals can work together to advance the product, primarily through learning and teaching, aka sharing.
PnP can augment the products from Microsoft much faster than Microsoft can build those improvements into the native product and we all learn from the process. While Vesa Juvonen(@vesajuvonen), a Microsoft Program Manager, has been the face of the effort, there are countless others that are involved daily in this endeavor. If you are working in the SharePoint space and you are not using the samples offered freely from PnP, you are spending a lot of time recreating the wheel. Come use wheels that are created, reviewed, approved, and shared by the top professionals in the business to get your project off to a fast start. Make no mistake; this is a global effort that results in making the world feel much smaller and much more inclusive. There are too many example contributions to list here, but head over to aka.ms/m365pnp and check out what is available to you. Additionally, there are weekly Community Calls/Webcasts, Guidance, SDKs, and Tools. You can even buy PnP gear.
So, where am I going in this massive ramble? My goal here is to encourage anyone to get involved. In the “Sharing-Is-Caring” training program, the team is making it easier for anyone to participate by holding “beginner” workshops to help you (i.e., me) get over the fear of not “being worthy” to contribute to such a professional organization. There are 5+ workshops in various stages of development and I have been able to attend the first two. Both were hosted by David Warner(@DavidWarnerII) and Hugo Bernier(@bernierh), covering the basics of how to be a contributor and then showing the easiest way to get started, which is to help with documentation. This could be fixing a typo, clarifying existing documentation or writing a completely new article. While you can just open an issue for something you found in the documentation, you can now simply “fix” it yourself, which makes you a M365 PnP Contributor! I can’t wait for the next sessions on SPFx, Office 365 CLI, and more!
Additionally, there are lots of other ways you can participate. Here are a couple of links to get you started:
- aka.ms/m365pnp - Microsoft 365 Patterns & Practices
- aka.ms/sharing-is-caring - Sharing-Is-Caring Initiative
Hopefully, I’ve made my point that everyone can participate in this great movement and you are encouraged to do so. From my own experiences, I can promise that these are some of the most genuine, approachable, and caring people you will ever meet. They will gladly provide you with any help needed to be part of the community. Their feedback is always constructive and comes with years of experience, so you can’t help but get better just by participating. So, join the fun and become a part of the Microsoft 365 Patterns & Practices community. You’ll learn a lot from us and hopefully give us the opportunity to learn from you too!
See you soon!