a reckoning for tech by the humans that work with it

Coming soon: TechReckoning Insiders

Coming soon from us — a new tech community program, the TechReckoning Insiders! Sign up to be notified of launch here:

The TechReckoning Insiders is a network for technologists who are active in their professional communities. This new platform connects Insiders with each other and with companies in their industry. With the private access to information and connections made as part of the program, members can be more successful at their jobs — and at helping and teaching more people.

The roots of the TechReckoning Insiders are grounded in the years that I helped the VMware community to grow. This community was born of necessity as practitioners came together to help each other learn how to use this new kind of tech. This happened both online in forum running on a server underneath a desk in tech support and offline as user groups began to form.

Over time, a group of practitioners emerged who were sharing their knowledge via blogs, user groups, and social media. We wanted to both recognize the hard work that was going on and support them in the future, so we created the VMware vExperts in 2009. Ten years later, the program has well over 1500 members.

As I worked with the community, I noticed that this community was actually about a lot more than the company:

  • People who participate tend to do well in their careers. One reason is that they raise their visibility, but they also become better at their jobs as they teach others and through the support of their network.
  • From the beginning, the criteria for entrance in the program was “contribution to the community.” Most were creating content — explaining best practices, making tutorials and study guides, covering announcements and new releases. The cultural values of the community stayed centered around helping others to learn, not just about advocacy for the company.
  • The community is about common interest and common contribution — not your employer. Active users work alongside people who work for companies selling to them, and in many cases competing with each other. Everybody’s a peer and a practitioner inside the community.
  • It’s also not about your degree or what country you’re from. At its best, the community is a way to increase diversity in the field and bypass traditional gatekeepers of opportunity. People often start contributing often only after they see an example of somebody like them doing it first.

Working with the vExperts was huge fun, extraordinarily rewarding, and we still keep in touch with friends and colleagues across the globe. The most gratifying part, however, was what the members got out of it. I’m always very grateful (and slightly embarrassed) when people tell me about the impact of the program. Careers have been permanently transformed within just a year or two of getting involved. It’s not just about the paycheck: folks have moved their families across the world, started businesses together, and traveled across continents to attend weddings in castles as a result of getting involved.

The ethos of helping and contributing remained, and as a result these folks developed influence even without huge social media followings. We saw that community members influenced buying decisions across the entire customer journey, from awareness through consideration to purchase and eventual success with the technology.

Companies who worked with the active members of the community saw increased word-of-mouth buzz and brand awareness, which in turn led to more and better leads at conferences. Many companies got great feedback and insight by offering hands-on experiences and early access, and the community practitioners often turned out to be pretty good sources for recruiting as well!

So that’s why we’re starting the TechReckoning Insiders: To create a group that helps tech professionals grow and thrive and help others. To leverage the dynamics we saw with VMware and the vExperts and bring it to other domains. To help our members with their careers, their visibility, and their assistance to others. We’ll

  • Connect them with other geeks.
  • Give them access to interesting information and deeper tech experiences.
  • Support them in growing their visibility and influence by helping other people and creating better content, not by social media marketing tricks.
  • Connect them with companies in their industry in a non-spammy way.

More coming soon… sign up for our launch list here!

-John Troyer