I want to give a shout to all of those who have taken the time and energy to share content with the community. Be it a personal blog, forums contributions, or participation at a local user group. Without that powerful minority of people the technical (and most other professions) as a whole would be far less efficient. This is no small task as this profession is pretty demanding. It takes someone with serious commitment and passion to find the time outside of the normal hectic day to day to contribute to the community. Hats off to you.
Ways to contribute –
TechNet Forums. I am using TechNet as an example here because I live primarily in the Microsoft space but pick your vendor of choice and make an effort to peruse their forums and offer some input where ever you can. As a bonus, you generally learn a fair amount of information just reading through the threads.
Personal Blog. Domains name are cheap and creating a blog is easy. As you encounter stuff you think is neat make note of it. It doesn’t need to be incredibly verbose or detailed either. The best content is usually the stuff that is straight to the point. If you have encountered something interesting certainly you are not alone and someone else will probably be interested in knowing how you approached the problem.
Local User Groups. This is easily the best professional decision I have ever made. Get involved in your local user group for whatever speciality you are working in. This was so helpful to me for so many reasons. It’s an amazing way to meet and network with your peers in the industry. People who are doing really cool things that can be helpful to you and your organization will share this information with you. For free. If you have a problem and you are curious to see how other companies are dealing with it the user group is the absolute perfect forum. You can learn how every enterprise is equally screwed up and you can commiserate with other professionals in your field. It’s kind of therapeutic to know your problems are not unique. Get involved in the leadership / planning / fundraising / etc. It is so worth it. Don’t be afraid to present something to the group. The greatest user group in the world is MNSCUG.
Remember, as with anything, if you put some effort into this and practice it will become easier. I challenge you to get into the routine of giving back. Keep the internet awesome.