SharePoint Saturday celebrated its 5th year this past weekend at Virginia Beach. As the birthplace of SharePoint Saturday, VA Beach was a fitting place to open the 2013 year with this birthday bash. Five years since its inception, the SharePoint Saturday franchise now has Palestine, Perth, Vietnam, and Brisbane, to name a few, to call home. With so many events globally, all provided at no cost, it’s easy to take SharePoint Saturdays for granted.
If you take a step back and truly think of the magnitude — how amazingly awesome is this feat? That’s 5 years of bringing together SharePoint professionals, thought leaders, authors, and MVPs. 5 years of food, T-Shirt, raffle, and giveaways. 5 years of best practices, tips, demos, slidedecks, keynotes, and presentations. All provided FOR FREE.
If you have a curiosity or passion for SharePoint, all you have to do is sign up and show up. You’ll get a chance to learn a wicked thing or two, meet like-minded SharePoint folks, and get free stuff while you’re at it. And by free stuff, we’re not talking a 10% coupon to Applebee’s. They can range from SharePoint books to games, gift cards to electronics. This past weekend, SharePoint Saturday VA Beach even gave out the new Surface tablet.
I feel so blessed and fortunate to be working in a field that has so many selfless individuals. People who have donated countless hours to make such fantastic events like SharePoint Saturdays and SharePoint User Groups that happen on a regular basis. I’m hard pressed to find anything else out there that resembles what we have with the SharePoint community. As someone who has gained so much from attending these free events for the last couple of years, I decided to take a leap and pay it forward. I had the great pleasure of speaking at a SharePoint Saturday for the first time this weekend in VA Beach. My topic was avoiding the use of folders in SharePoint (see the slidedeck below). We had a full room and an interactive group. The session went almost the entire 75 minutes. It not only felt right to help out the SharePoint community, but I also had such a blast delivering my session.
One main takeaway for me from the entire experience is to be a little less apprehensive amongst the other SharePoint speakers. Many of the SharePoint speakers have a very strong SharePoint and social media persona that you can’t help but to be a bit intimidated. After all, you’ve read their books, followed their posts, heard them speak in conferences for years. When you finally see them in person, your respect and admiration can certainly get the best of you. But through this experience, I have found that these thought leaders are extremely approachable. They are very open to connect and are genuinely nice people. If I get another opportunity to be selected to speak in future SharePoint events, I look to draw up more courage to reach out and personally thank them for all their great work in the community.
So if you actually made it to the end of this post, this probably means 1 of 2 things – you’re either my wife (hi baby!) or you probably have a tie of some sort to the SharePoint technology. If you’re invested in a certain capacity with SharePoint and you have found yourself benefiting from the community – whether through a blog post, a SharePoint User Group session, or anything in between – then I encourage you to be involved. I would like to conclude by referring to a great post written by a community champion, Wendy Neal. Wendy listed different avenues to encourage everyone to be involved. After all, the community is about you and me! SharePoint Saturdays and User Groups can only sustain their success if we are all involved at some capacity. There are so many opportunities out there, please seize them! Help out and meet some amazing people along the way!