What seems, now, like a few short months ago, I was drawn into a small community known as The Network Collective. This last week, we launched our paid membership service.
The first thing that must come to mind is that there will be training. Of course there will be training. A (minor) theme throughout the community launch among Eyvonne, Jordan, and I, is that the training on tap will be different from anything else out there. We all three have a great deal of respect for the existing training materials, and we all intend to continue to be involved in other training and education efforts. On the other hand, the style, tone, and content will be different at The Network Collective. The first series being launched are math for network engineers, a long conversation on network design, and a long conversation on communication skills. But training is, once again, a minor theme.
The major theme of The Network Collective is community.
Consider the position of the “average” network engineer. You are either the expert, or one of a few experts, on a topic very few people care about in your organization. What you build is largely seen as an opaque money pit—a cost center no-one understands. By the way—if you think the situation is any better when working at a vendor or a hyperscaler, you are wrong. There are different kinds of problems, but there are still problems.
The value of community can hardly be overstated, particularly when living in a progress driven world that tends to underrate and “eat” longer term relationships. Being in a strong community can help you learn by being around smart people, deal with living in a toxic culture, skip the hype cycle, and cultivate questions. Making contact with others, taking others seriously, treating one another with respect (remember General Howe’s Dog?), and looking beyond the competition, are all important parts of building, and keeping, a community around you.
A strong community might even help you learn that all of us are just people—no capes, no wands.
The Network Collective is more than training, and more than a neat technology podcast. It is a community.