April 26, 2013

Got #13ntc withdrawal? The Communities of Practice can help

A huge conference like the NTC always fills me with tons of ideas and a renewed determination to work smarter, fail faster, and build stronger professional relationships. And then…I get back to my desk. Monday comes. News headlines distract me, my to-do list grows, and I have to work hard to sustain the energy that was so palpable just days before.

Sound familiar? If you haven’t digested or implemented all of your takeaways from the conference—or if you couldn’t make it, and are itching to connect with fellow nonprofit techies—you may want to check out the NTEN Communities of Practice (CoPs).

The 9 different CoPs are made up of people who meet here on our site to discuss shared interests all year round. Each operates a little differently, according to the needs and preferences of their members. For example, Ivan Boothe and Johanna Bates, the moderators of the Drupal CoP, host a monthly Q&A phone call about all things Drupal for practitioners at all skill levels. (Intrigued? The next one is May 30.)

Meanwhile, the many devoted organizers of the CoP known as CommBuild have found weekly tweet chats most useful. If you’re a community organizer, online community manager, or interested in breaking into a similar field, log onto Twitter next Tuesday at 10am Pacific and search for the hashtag #CommBuild – a rich, welcoming discussion will await you.

And those are just two examples. Want to dip your toes in the water?

  • Peruse the list of CoPs and join the ones that resonate with you. Note that most of the groups are open to the public, but some do have specific membership guidelines and we ask that you honor those.

  • Set your community.nten.org notifications to receive email updates so you don’t miss any group activity. Some people opt for daily or weekly digests, but I find the activity level to be manageable, and the conversation most useful, when I receive them in real time.

  • Imagine you’re meeting the group members in person. What would you hope to discuss? Share an article that fired you up or a blog post you wrote. Ask questions. Chime in with solutions, success or failure stories, ideas. These groups are what you make them.

Why wait until the next annual conference to get help, learn something, or make new friends in your field? You’ve got a vibrant community of nonprofit tech champions right at your fingertips.

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