I watched this presentation from Ignite NZ 2015:
Career Path Control
There were a number of things here that totally resonated with me.
And then I saw:
How to Be Awesome
OK - you don't have to be as "batshit insane" (watch the video) as this but it's an interesting approach.
And then I started to think about how I approached this.
First of all I started reading blogs. I use FeedDemon as a RSS reader and I currently have about 180 feeds - mainly in the Microsoft / Azure / Identity space.
I flick through them every morning and read the ones I find more interesting.
How do I find them? I'm doing something, run into a problem, Google and then I find a good answer on a blog and then I take a stroll around other articles in the blog. If it's stuff I may find useful, I add it to my feed. Essentially, people who write good blog posts tend to keep on doing this and I want to know about them.
Sadly, I find in interviews that very few people do this. But it's the main reason:
- I know more than most people around here
- I'm more informed
- I'm the one who gets the news first and then tells other people
The other thing I do is to be active on Forums.
I'm in the top 2% on stackoverflow and I also help out on some of the MSDN forums.
The first time I attempted to answer a question on stackoverflow I just about wet myself. I imagined a deluge of criticism but actually all I got was two up votes. So then I started answering more and more and my reputation grew and grew. I try and answer at least one question a day. Basically, I have made my own little niche and recently got my adfs badge.
There's a Chinese saying "A journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step".
People ask "How do I get into stackoverflow? All the questions have been answered by people way smarter than me?".
My advice is always the same - there's over 10 million questions there and most have answers. Find a good question where the answers pretty much suck and write a better one.
And keep doing that. And that will give you the confidence to be the one to answer a question first. Don't be despondent if it takes a while to get an up vote. You''l find that you mainly work in a small group of tags. Start checking those tags every day. Each tag has a RSS feed so I get all the new questions in FeedDemon. And then I answer them.
No - I don't know all the answers. Actually, I rarely know the complete answer. But I research the question. And by doing that, I learn more. So it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. And if I find something I think others will find useful, I expand it into a blog post on my blog.
Which is a nice segue into my next point. Start writing a blog. Blog about how you solved a problem. Blog about a cool presentation you watched. If there's a stackoverflow question that keeps occurring, write a really comprehensive blog post and then link it plus a summary in your stackoverflow answer.
You also need to cough up some hard cash, Buy some books or e-books around your particular area and read them. Get a Pluralsight subscription. Buy some tools e.g. ReSharper. I work in the Identity area so there's a lot of SAML-P (P for Protocol) and there's no Microsoft client side stack for this. So I bought one (ComponentSpace) just so I could research SAML, do some PoC, write some of these blog entries etc.
Basically, just do it!
So there you have a number of different approaches with the same outcome.
Choose the one that works for you and make yourself more awesome.