So on 2nd Feb I got to do something that I’ve always wanted to do. I finally managed to give something back, or at least hope I did, to the product community in Belfast.

The company I work for, Kainos, very kindly agreed to sponsor one of the ProductTank Belfast events.

Going back a few years

I’ve not really been part of the Belfast IT community since I started travelling on a regular basis to London but I’ve always had this nagging voice at the back of my head that I should do something. It felt wrong that I get to benefit for attending meet-ups in London, with other Product Managers when in Belfast, there was little on offer.

What do I get from meet-ups

At the London events, I get to listen to thought leaders, and to share experiences and debate things with other product people. This usually involves a vent or two, but mostly I come away buzzing with new ideas which I share with like minded colleagues. It is this constant engagement with both the external and internal community within Kainos that makes me so passionate about Product Management and keeps me pushing myself to constantly explore new things.

ProductTank Belfast

When ProductTank Belfast launched in 2016, I made contact with the co-founders to see how I could help. Their response was a simple one, to sponsor and pull a meet-up together. I talked to them about the needs of the community and the themes of previous events before finally approaching speakers that I knew would entice people to come.

But why bother?

Yes it takes a bit of work to pull something together like this, and yes there is still a day job to do, but for me external communities are vital to

  • Nurture. Todays world is highly confusing for the talent emerging from our universities in terms of developing their careers. They need the help and guidance from people already in the industry to make informed choices. Think of it as investing in the future.
  • Spread the knowledge. If you keep all your experiences to yourself it means that only the immediate people around you benefit from your learning. Everyone else will go through the same learning curve as you did to solve the same problem. Think of it as a bit of give and take. No one can know everything so why not solve our problems together as a community.
  • Challenge. I’m not sure about you, but going to events makes me reevaluate the way I do things and sometimes even the reason behind doing them. Think of it as a way to inspire people to continually question and improve what they do.

Just look at that list. That’s three awesome reasons right there and if these weren’t reward enough for me the loud hum of the 80 people who attended the event certainly was.

This post originally appeared on Medium – view it here.