This year at the SharePoint Conference something was different. Something that has existed at all the other events, but something that this time was front and center, loud and clear! This year the Community was made into a central component of the conference. Community efforts were noticed and encouraged.

Keynote Focus

In the keynote address, the first thing that was highlighted during the presentation was the fact that SharePoint is what it is because of the community efforts. From SharePoint Saturday events, SharePoint Conferences, local user groups, Women in SharePoint and the SharePoint Podshow, it isn't hard to find a piece of the community that you can connect with. 

During the keynote, Microsoft made a directed effort to call out the success of these efforts and the impact they have had on the product. One thing was clear in the messaging: Microsoft is noticing the community.

Community Lounge

Beyond just the keynote, Microsoft provided a way for people to connect to each other throughout the conference at the Community Lounge. This was an area within the pavilion that allowed users to easily connect with the different groups and learn more about opportunities to connect and join in and also provided a great meeting spot for people to relax and engage together.

They also sponsored a community photo booth where custom postcards could be created and sent out to the social networks. Each of the booths was staffed throughout the conference at various times with the different community members that were influential in starting the various groups.

In addition, Microsoft included two art murals that highlighted the community. One allowed for people to add their starting point to the SharePoint timeline and one was an artist rendition created throughout the conference that described the importance of collaboration among the community.

Both of these large works of art will now be moved to the Microsoft campus to remind them of the importance of the voice of the community. Below are some pictures from the community lounge area. 


Learning Opportunities

Additional Community Efforts

In addition to these efforts from Microsoft, the community was thriving in additional, self-organized efforts, including the Community Suite and the Community booth. Both of these efforts provided a way for the community to engage together, build relationships and network together.

What's Next?

So, what is next for the SharePoint community? The one thing that is clear is that it isn't going anywhere. It is here, it is strong and it has a huge impact on the success of SharePoint. What is coming next, or more accurately, what I would like to see, is the engagement of new people in the community. If you are a SharePoint professional, at any skill level, novice to expert, there is a place in the community for you!

The community means many things to many people, and the beauty of it is that you can create the fit that is best for you. The point is that there is a large ecosystem out there full of people who feel the same as you and have likely experienced the same challenges and successes that you have faced. By stepping in and joining this community you can only enrich your experiences with SharePoint.

If you need help finding a community to connect with, comment on the article below and I would be happy to help get you connected!

Editor's Note: This is just part of Jennifer's coverage from the SharePoint Conference. To read more, see SharePoint Conference, Surface Style #spc12