How I got into the vCommunity
The best part of VMware is its amazing user community. Since everything VMware related starts with vSomething, people call it the vCommunity. I'll tell you my story so you can get involved in it as well.
This community consists of users, partners and even employees who are allowed and encouraged to participate. The vCommunity has taken quite a life of its own through social media. It is very easy to find very knowledgeable people willing to share and help others in almost any format - LinkedIn, Facebook, blogs, twitter come to mind as great examples.
I didn't know any of it (it was huge already before I got my first taste) until I attended my first VMware class in June 2012 and heard of VMUG - the VMware User Group. I thought that sounded neat but I was knee deep learning just to do my job well and didn't even sign up in the website (I know, I know...)
1st - VMUG
About a year later I took the VCP exam, mostly relying on Scott Lowe's "Mastering VMware vSphere 5" book. After reading his book I had subscribed to his blog through email. Even then, it seemed his posts were so far in the future - but I loved reading it and thinking how cool everything was. In one of those blog posts he offered to coach someone to give their first VMUG talk - you just had to reply in the comments (the comments were lost when he migrated his blog).
I'll never forget I was looking at my Gmail the exact moment that email alert came in. I was the first to reply and so damn happy when he did choose me as part of the lucky 5. For me that first VMUG in Denver was a great experience and I was immediately "hooked" on these events - I had a great time listening to others, especially other users, and being able to talk to other administrators like me. After that I attended a UserCon which is a "big one" and also a VMworld Roadshow, loving it all the way. I loved attending all the VMUGs I could, and when I moved to NYC I found out the corresponding workspace in vmug.com and continued doing so :D
Through the vCommunity I also learned of vBrownbag, which is a volunteer organization of cool guys and gals who organize and many times themselves present on whatever's new in the virtualization space. How cool was that! It's like having a VMUG every week!
With time I learned that there were several vBrownBags - US, APAC, EMEA and LATAM, each running on a separate schedule. I'm from Costa Rica so I soon reached out to the guys running LATAM and we instantly hit it off. Since the LATAM group is smaller I was soon asked if I would like to present on something - and of course I said yes.
The essence of the group is just phenomenal and you make great friends in a short time. One of the coolest things of vBrownBag is that it's normally not tied to any sponsor - these aren't webinars about a product, they're totally community driven. Everyone is here just for the cool factor and to learn something. For example, in certification tracks, pick a topic, study it and present it. If you think there's a particular thing you would like to do a talk about, let them know and they'll fit you in.
The act of presenting in vBrownBag has been great - a little nerve racking at first, but seeing your presentation in Youtube and in their blog is so rewarding! I've had the honor of presenting in both LATAM and US. Some have been more chaotic than others (once I presented within that same day's notice) but I've always felt the camaraderie - that sense that we're here helping each other out and trying for all of us collectively to learn something. I totally recommend you to sign up and present soon!
Read a VMware book, read a blog, see a vBrownbag - what do you see everywhere? Everyone says "and my twitter handle is ...". That's because twitter is an excellent medium to connect with others and VMware as a company is very active on twitter!
Advantages of twitter:
You can follow anyone and in most cases they don't need to approve (some people do verification and stuff)
You can talk to someone without following them by default (some people do block but it's rare)
You can have private conversations via DM
Excellent mobile apps to stay connected on the go
Hashtags may following tweets on a particular topic easy
VMware has a long list of focused accounts
So, I created my account, and the first thing I did was follow authors of the books I had bought. Wow! I was missing out on this. A blog post requires some time but a quick note with a link can be done very quickly. Tweets come out all the time on any topic and you get to know the person, not just the guru.
You will quickly realize you can tailor your twitter experience by whom you follow. Soon I realized this was an excellent VMware news source. After I was done following authors I decided to follow all VCDXs (the top certification) that published a handle in the VCDX directory. After that I followed the vBrownBag guys, and then anyone that these people talked to that I realized put out useful tweets. In no time I was drinking from the fire hose!
Up to there is what I consider a pretty solid way of getting involved in the vCommunity. There's so much else I can mention (look at all my pages beneath VMware to get a glimpse) and of course this is only my own experience - your mileage will vary. What I can say is that being part of the vCommunity has been super rewarding and fun. There's so many opportunities to meet people, geek out and do cool things.
One of the things I'm proudest of was replying to an offer from the VMware certification twitter to do an interview on VMware certification benefits. This is by far the best produced video I have been a part of, with green room and everything!
I hope to see you too one day!