Yesterday was a scary time for the Kelley family. Our youngest, our five year-old daughter, suddenly had a rash everywhere. My wife and I talked about it briefly over the phone and decided it would be best to get her seen immediately. So Kim took our daughter to one of those urgent care facilities. While there they heard a wheezing through the stethoscope and immediately called for an ambulance in case she was starting to have trouble breathing due to an allergic reaction. I had Facebook on my phone, as well as Blackberry messenger and texting, and was able to keep the appropriate people informed of what was going on. In my posting, a high school classmate who happens to me a pulmonologist saw the posts and took the time to post some things to consider. Just the fact that someone I trusted who had a lot more knowledge than I do in this field was taking the time to help out was something that helped keep me calm and focused on being as much help as possible to ensure nothing escalated with my daughter. My calmness influenced my wife and helped keep her calm as well. This is an emergency situation where Facebook was extremely helpful. And the next time I see my friend Priya, I'm going to have a present for her as a big thank you for helping my family through this time with expert knowledge and care. Now, in response to the Facebook posts, quite a few people indicated they were praying for us and others sent good thoughts our way. I'm not in any way down-playing any of that (because all of that helped us, too), but I want to focus on the expert knowledge part, especially with respect to IT.
Let's start with Twitter. Others have blogged about the SQL Server community and Twitter and how we have our own hashtag for when folks need SQL help: #sqlhelp. Pretty simple, right? But does it work? Absolutely it does. There are a lot of really smart SQL Server types on Twitter and as has been said before, they think nothing of pitching in to help others in the community. Got a problem you can't solve even though you've looked into the docs and tried to do your research? Tweet with that hash tag. It helps if you're already active, of course, because chances are you're following and being followed by folks in the community. They'll see your post, even if they aren't specifically looking for that hashtag. By helping out, we make each other better and stronger. That's one reason our community is so great.
Facebook is another place where I've seen help being provided. It's not just for pictures, games, and funny links. I can think of several cases where a DBA posted an issue and within a few minutes, a team of other DBAs had dove in and started to help with the issue. Add to that Facebook pages like for PASS, for the various Virtual Chapters, for the lovely locks of Sean McCown, and you have a plethorea of options to seek help and more information on SQL Server.
What about LinkedIn? Well, to be honest, I don't use LinkedIn very much. However, if you join the appropriate groups for the profession, you'll occasionally see group postings that are of interest to you. I know this was the case when ISACA introduced new certifications I could be grandfathered into since I'm a CISA. By reading the posts of others who were considering the certifications, I was able to come to the conclusion that they really didn't do me much good and I could spend the money for the certifications elsewhere.
So if you're not using the social media options available to you, and you've not explored them in much detail, I encourage you to do so. Some folks have and its just not their cup of tea (or coffee). That's all right. Nothing wrong with those folks. They just find other methods easier or more productive. But if you've never started using these tools for technical work, start with one and give it a chance. Take the time to learn how others are using it and adapt these methods to yourself. See if it works for you. Then add on or swap to another mechanism. If it doesn't work for you, then stick with what does. But if it does, then great! That helps us all.