STP Nairobi: Mark Miller’s Keynote: ‘Building Community Around the World’

Following introductions provided by individual members of the STP team, Mark led a roundtable presentation on building community around the world, using images from past and present STP Tours by way of example. With contributions from the team, Mark essentially provided what amounted to an "STP Greatest Hits" slideshow, with due props (of course) to STP Africa sponsor Colligo. The informal presentation generated many laughs from attendees, as the team shared reminisces of our adventures and misadventures. Mark asked the audience to give themselves a hand, as they'd come out for the first-ever SharePoint event in Nairobi and, having done so, they had the beginning of a vibrant SharePoint community in place. Over a hundred attendees had come out for SharePoint Saturday Nairobi, which is a phenomenal turnout for a first-ever SharePoint Saturday.

Using "six degrees of Kevin Bacon" as a reference point, Joel says there are typically just two degrees of separation between members of the SharePoint community, and three at the most. Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Yammer are bringing the world that much closer, said Joel, mentioning that an attendee had introduced himself in the hall earlier, saying that he and Joel were Facebook friends. Eric augmented the point, mentioning that the degree of separation between the audience and the CEO of Microsoft, after today, is now effectively one (since Joel, Michael, and others have met and are Facebook friends with Steve Ballmer).

The primary purpose of Mark's keynote, however, was to use STP as a potent example of the bonds that form within the SharePoint community, and where participation in that community has brought us (i.e., Nairobi), and can bring you too. The idea was to clearly demonstrate the power of community, and the importance to attendees of beginning to nurture their own community here in Nairobi. In so doing, who knows where it –and SharePoint– will take them, as we ourselves are living proof … heck, even a couple of glorified end users like Mark and me have found a home in the burgeoning worldwide SharePoint community. Mark mentioned that his first blog post was titled "I Will Never be Joel Oleson," eliciting a chuckle from Joel, but here's the thing: today, both Mark and Joel are highly sought-after speakers at SharePoint events all over the world.

Mark Miller and Joel OlesonSince it's not possible to overestimate the importance of user groups to the formation and growth of local SharePoint communities, speaking from experience, Eric advocated for the formation of a Nairobi user group. Eric spoke of forming the Baltimore SPUG in 2007 with just two others present at the first meeting (and one of them was his co-founder). Today, 40-45 members show up for the regular meetings, and the area community totals around 700 in aggregate. Encouragingly, most of the attendees in the room raised their hands when Joel asked if they'd be interested in being part of a Nairobi SPUG; and, even more encouragingly, four or five indicated a willingness to run one.

Joel invited prospective SPUG leaders to come talk to the STP Team for advice after the keynote, and were enthusiastically taken up on the offer. As well, demonstrating the "nobody wins unless everybody wins" philosophy of SharePoint community, Mark Stacey (from Johannesburg) and Bramley Maetsa (from Cape Town) both spoke up and offered their assistance in helping setup a Nairobi SPUG, up to and including offering to speak at meetings.

And thus, a new local SharePoint community is born, and the STP team leaves Nairobi feeling on top of the world, having happily fulfilled its prime directive. Happy SPUGing, Nairobi!


Sharing the Point Africa Tour is made possible through the generous sponsorship of Colligo.


All sessions on the STP Africa Tour:

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