COMMENT: In The Field
Mixing It UpBy Ian Abramson
There’s never been a better time to get involved through networking.
As the world changes, the way people interact with each other evolves. How do you define your professional network? Do you include friends, acquaintances, Facebook friends, LinkedIn connections, Oracle Mix people, or even the buddies on your hockey team? Today, more than ever, our network is far-reaching: we know people around the globe, people with shared experiences, and people who have unique and useful knowledge.
Despite the ease of communicating with newer technologies, retaining some of the time-honored networking methods is still important. Peer-to-peer networking, for example, continues to be invaluable for discussing challenges and learning new solutions.
Independent Oracle Users Group (IOUG) leaders and members believe that face-to-face communication is a leading benefit of joining the user group. IOUG now has a network of more than 23,000 Oracle technology professionals. This number may not seem large compared to, for example, Facebook’s 150 million members. But IOUG’s members have an unsurpassed knowledgebase of information and solutions that relate directly to everyday technical issues. You can’t measure that expertise by numbers of members alone.
In-person events remain a critical way for people to communicate face-to-face, and IOUG continues to facilitate opportunities for that. The annual COLLABORATE conference is one such opportunity where attendees have a chance to rub shoulders with some of the greatest Oracle technologists in the world. Networking possibilities like that are both rare and priceless.
Online networking has augmented face-to-face conferences, events, and meetings. With discussion forums, meetings on Skype, and other online communications technologies, IOUG can build a network that blends the face-to-face Oracle technology community with the virtual community. In the old days (less than 10 years ago), IOUG offered only an in-person conference. Now, there are Webinars, blogs, listservs, online chats, and teleconferences that bring IOUG members together.
A recent customer satisfaction survey, run by IOUG and Oracle, showed that customers who were part of the user community—specifically IOUG—are more-satisfied customers. That’s because this community is involved.
To help us all stay more involved all year long, IOUG has established groups on popular social networking sites that we invite everyone to join. These sites include Oracle Mix, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. The groups that we have set up will aid the members of our community in finding each other in these venues. We expect that these groups will prove to be valuable communication channels within the community and will allow people to leverage their professional networks. We are excited to become part of the fabric of these communities and to aid technology professionals to come together informally.
One such forum, Oracle Mix, is a platform that helps Oracle IT professionals communicate with each other and with Oracle. Recently, enhancement voting and paper selection for Oracle OpenWorld were both accomplished through the Oracle Mix interface.
On the social side, IOUG looks at Facebook as a way of growing our community and providing an interface that is not always technical but is always interesting. With LinkedIn, IOUG wants to create an environment where a more professional community, focusing on business connections, can thrive with the addition of an IOUG group relationship. Finally, we look forward to seeing how the Twitter Oracle community comes together.
All these methods work. If everyone takes part, our community will network, grow, and thrive all year long. In challenging economic times, it is more important than ever to have a robust network. It’s time to get involved.
Ian Abramson (firstname.lastname@example.org) is president of IOUG and an Oracle data warehousing expert with more than 20 years of experience. Based in Toronto, Canada, he is the director of the Enterprise Data Group for Thoughtcorp, a technology consulting company. Abramson has written numerous books on both Oracle and data warehousing and is a frequent presenter at Oracle and industry conferences and seminars. He is coauthor of Oracle Database 11g Beginner’s Guide (Oracle Press, 2008).