Community - it brings us together and it can have a positive impact on our lives. Community is everywhere around us - our neighbours, our friends, our family, and also our colleagues! Within each industry - mainly the tech industry - community is a valuable asset for people to excel personally and professionally.
So, why is community so important in the Tech world?
A huge benefit of community is professional development. Community encapsulates everything from online groups which you can find on LinkedIn, panel events, roundtable discussions, WhatsApp chats and conferences.
Tech communities are an excellent place to meet others in your industry or specialism - depending on how niche it is and what you do - and often you may not have access to such individuals unless you engaged yourself with a community. Professional development naturally falls on your employer as a responsibility, however, you should always look to access professional development outside of the four walls of your organisation - and that’s where a community can come in and aid you!
Finally, a community can also give you access to courses, seminars and talks that enable you to bolster your skills and learn something new. Some courses may require payment whereas others can be completely free - which is great for junior tech talent who may still be in the early days of figuring out what they want to specialise in.
Diversity and Inclusion
Diversity and Inclusion is something that the majority of organisations are looking to improve. As well as general tech communities, for example, groups specific to developers, or groups specific to engineers, sub-communities can also be created. For instance, Lesbians Who Tech is a community specifically for the LGBTQIA+ community and its allies to unite queer communities within Technology.
Another great example is UK Black Tech which is a community as well as an organisation that promotes a culture of innovation as well as diversity within the UK Tech Scene. The technology sector still being largely dominated by white cis straight men (although this can vary when looking at more specific data).
Communities such as the aforementioned look to elevate other demographics and ultimately ensure that there is support for all. As individuals, we all have needs which can end up being particularly complex, especially for those who are already within a group that is considered marginalised. Community brings people together and looks to eliminate the need for separation, and instead fosters togetherness and an environment that promotes learning.
In our professional lives, we will be faced with a lot of challenges, this can be leadership related all the way to technical issues which can be niche and difficult to solve alone. The beauty of community is that solving challenges together means that everybody as a collective can benefit.
You automatically gain access to a wealth of knowledge as well as different methodologies for problem-solving, all of which will be useful for you in your day-to-day life.
Particularly for smaller organisations or remote teams, community and community meet-ups can be one of the few ways to get additional guidance or have a mentor-and-mentee relationship. Mentors are a great way to get advice from within your organisation (if there is an internal mentorship programme) as well as externally.
External mentors can be found through things such as communities - whether these are online or in person. There is no set criteria for finding a mentor and you can also acquire one at whatever stage you’re at in your career so far. For example, if we look at the role of a NED (Non-Executive Director) they can be seen as high-level mentors within an organisation and look to work closely with the Founder/CEO or the board overall.
The bottom line is, everybody can benefit from mentorship (whether you’re the mentor or the mentee). It encourages you to share ideas, learn from one another and ultimately provide support and guidance which cannot be found elsewhere. Tech communities foster this idea of mentoring being accessible - which is why organisations should nurture this as well as introduce it to their employees if they don’t do so already.