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Engage With Your IBM i Community


LinkedIn
A popular business-related social networking website where professionals network and engage, LinkedIn has some of the more active and popular IBM i communities (called groups in LinkedIn lingo).

“LinkedIn is by far the best professional networks. The platform allows us to engage with the international IBM i installed base on an equal footing, as participants in forum discussions evaluate WHAT you say, instead of where you are from,” says Marinus van Sandwyk, founder and CTO of Tembo Technology Lab. “LinkedIn allowed me to reconnect with the people I’ve done business with around the world whom I had lost touch with over the years. In addition, I regularly experience—and even instigate—great interactions within the various IBM i groups within LinkedIn.”

Check out these LinkedIn groups for advice, feedback and networking opportunities:

AS400 Professionals—With more than 13,000 members, this is a group of professionals with experience in IBM i technologies. The group was started in 2008 and is the largest group of IBM i professionals on LinkedIn.

AS/400 Specialists—This group is comprised of more than 10,000 AS/400 business specialists, programmers, users and lovers.

COMMON, A User Group—COMMON acts as the networking community, industry advocate and leading education provider for Power Systems (IBM i, AS/400, iSeries, System i, AIX and Linux) users in North America. The COMMON LinkedIn group has more than 2,000 active members.

AS/400-iSeries-i5—Another IBM i group with the goal to connect IBM i professionals with just under 2,000 members.

IBM AS400 Blog—A LinkedIn group of approximately 4,000 IBM i professionals gathered to network and discuss IBM i infrastructure/OS, administration, design/architecture, security, application/business functional and product engineering.

Many IBM i vendors also have LinkedIn groups where product users can discuss ideas, answer questions and more.

Facebook
Although Facebook is the world’s most popular social-media channel, and many organizations do use it successfully to create community and share resources, it’s currently not an area with significant resources when it comes to the IBM i world.

Forums/Discussion Groups
Technology forums are often used as an invaluable resource for discussions and troubleshooting advice on software, hardware, networking and security. Before the advent of blogs and the more popular social-media channels like LinkedIn and Twitter, forums were the single online place for connecting with the IBM i community. Still, there continues to be many valuable and active forum resources available, with the following being currently among the most visited:

www.midrange.com
The most popular and active forum, midrange.com includes online discussion forums, mailing lists on specific areas of interest, a job board and the capability for live chat. If you’re searching for hard-to-find answers to questions, check out its archive section for discussion threads on a myriad of IBM i topics.

IBM developerWorks for IBM i
The IBM developerWorks for IBM i forum focuses on technical discussions within the IBM space.

MCPress Online Forums
MCPress has a wide assortment of online forums on various topics including business intelligence, Java, RPG and DB2. This forum is broken down by specific area of interest, making it easy to find what you’re looking for.

iProDeveloper
Similar to the MCPress online forums, the iProDeveloper forums feature a wide range of technical topics including tips, security, TCP/IP and COBOL.

IBM i Advocacy

This discussion would be incomplete without mentioning the array of user groups that make our community so strong. If you’ve given back to this space through volunteering at your local user group, educating fellow colleagues or collaborating with other IBM i users, we thank you and the many volunteers and advocates who devote themselves to the success of the platform and their fellow users.

You’re encouraged to check out your local user group if haven’t already as there’s nothing like learning from and posing questions face-to-face to peers.

“For me, the most beneficial IBM i community is any group that is IRL (in real life),” Perry says. “Any time you can attend a live IBM i event, the level of your education is vastly improved and the networking is extremely beneficial. When you see a person’s face and their passion, and engage in conversation rather than in comments, arguments or debate, it can result in a deeper understanding of a subject.

“Of course, occasional conferences rarely provide advice when you need it, so online is the place for quick answers,” Perry adds. “The most beneficial online IBM i community is really the one where you are regularly engaged. If you become involved, rather than lurk or borrow advice, you will get the most out of that community.”

COMMON
As the largest and oldest association of IBM i users, COMMON is dedicated to providing education, advocacy and networking opportunities in a variety of ways. Education is provided through seminars presented at many local and national meetings, as well as online seminars. In addition, COMMON’s Certification Program provides a resource for IBM i professionals to validate their technical skills. Find out more for the COMMON in your area:

COMMON U.S.
COMMON Europe
COMMON Australia/New Zealand

iManifest
iManifest was created to revitalize the IBM i market. With groups in North America, Australia/New Zealand, Europe and Japan, the organization spreads the word about the value proposition of IBM i to the greater IT world and business managers. The North American iManifest, now in a transition period, has made many efforts to find the right method of getting the word out, while the European group, led by Ray Titcombe and Andrew Nicholson, recently launched a major awareness program to involve users and vendors to raise the profile of the IBM i on the east side of the Atlantic.

Information about these groups can be found here:

iManifest U.S.
iManifest EU
iManfest Japan

iFoundation
Maxava, a prominent software vendor in IBM i high availability and disaster recovery, started the Maxava iFoundation to support nonprofit organizations making an effort to strengthen the IBM i community. Started in 2011, the iFoundation contributed grants to the IBM i community for education, events, speakers and promotion of IBM i.

“In 2012, a funding pool of $50,000 was provided by Maxava for the second year in a row, to allow the Maxava iFoundation to again offer grants of up to $2,000 each to IBM i interest groups for the general promotion and free exchange of knowledge, ideas and skills related to IBM I,” says Allan Campbell, CEO, Maxava. “The grant program has been met with a positive response from the community, with funds going to organizations in North America, Europe and South Africa.”

iBelieve
Multiple iBelieve events, supported by looksoftware, focus on the future of the IBM i platform with presentation from prominent industry experts. Speakers discuss the vision for and future of the platform, how to get the most value from it and how to spread the story to the greater IT world.

Stronger Than Ever and Spreading the Word

Over the years, we’ve become close with many people within this IBM i community. Some of them we’ve known for ages and now call our friends. It’s through these communities we’ve built together that we’re able to stay strong and hopefully influence IT comrades outside of the IBM i world to see for themselves why we’re so passionate about the platform. Those communities like COMMON, your local user groups, social-media outlets and news publications are how we communicate with one another and how we preach our enthusiasm for the platform to the greater IT world. Speak loud, IBM i users, and be heard!

 

Bill Rice is the founder of Humanized Communications and an IBM i advocate.

Jennifer Phillips is an account manager at Humanized Communications and an IBM i advocate.


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