We'd been having a few debates online over the past few months about how to grow the IBM Connections community.  

It's already pretty strong, and has definitely grown in size as new versions of the technology have been shipped by IBM - the number of practitioners working with Connections 3.0.1 is a world away from those that were around with Connections 2.0 for example.  However, there's definitely room for improvement!

So if you're interested in Connections, here's some things you can do to get involved:

  • Read PlanetLotus regularly as there's lots of great blog posts about IBM Connections.  A search for 'Connections' yields a tonne of posts.
  • If you're working with Connections yourself, even if it is just learning about the technology, post about IBM Connections on your own blog.  You can bet that if you are struggling with some fundamental concern or issue, there will be others that are in the same boat!
  • Comment on blogs you read, join the conversation! I know from personal experience that just a quick comment saying 'Your post has really helped me, thank you.' means a great deal.
  • If you're of a technical bent, take part in the IBM Forum for Connections.  If you can, answer other posts (even if it's just to say that you have seen the same issue).  If not, just make sure that you post your own problems as it all adds to the knowledge base for others.
  • Join the LinkedIn group for IBM Connections.  This 1,700 strong community is fantastic whatever your background as there is a mix of technical and business-led discussions, as well as polls and lots of shared news and announcements.  There are even job postings on occasion!  Of course LinkedIn proves a great way to meet with 'non-community' folks as many will be present on LinkedIn even if they have never read a blog post or been to a LUG, so please do make sue you are involved in this group.
  • Attend a LUG or an IBM event such as Lotusphere or the Social Business Roadshows.  There is nothing as invigorating as meeting other impassioned individuals face-to-face!  User groups are a great way to meet some of the key Connections advocates from inside and outside of IBM, and usually have at least a few Connections-focused sessions to aid your understanding of the product.  Possibly even better, there is the Social Connections user group which meets every six months and is 100% focused on IBM Connections content.  The next event is in Dublin in June, with future events planned for the Netherlands and the USA.
  • Join the IBM Connections community Skype chat. Many of the other forums and discussion spaces work on an asynchronous basis - ask a question and wait a few hours (or possibly a few days) for a response.  The Connections Skype chat brings a community of Connections specialists to your fingertips.  Ask howto questions, clarify your thinking on a new customisation, ask for advice on adoption, even paste your log file snippets when dealing with a tricky issue!  If you'd like to be involved, just contact one of the current members and ask to be added - you can email me if in any doubt!
  • Join the IBM Connections Users community on the Greenhouse, discuss Connections with other users and raise your suggestions for enhancements using the Ideation Blog feature!
  • If you have development-related questions around IBM Connections, raise them on StackOverflow - a terrific way to reach beyond the typical IBM/Lotus developer community.

I'm sure there are plenty more, but that's a good start!

One of the topics that is being discussed is to have a common hashtag that we use for all Connections-related content to make it easier to find on social media like Twitter and LinkedIn, as well as in Google Searches and on sites such as StackOverflow.  The hashtag needs to be instantly recognisable but also short.  It is also suggested that we have two, one for general Connections content, and one for specific development-related information - think the equivalent of  #domino and #xpages.  We've had a few suggestions as to what might work, and have opened a poll in the LinkedIn group:
What hashtags should we use on Twitter and in blog posts for IBM Connections (in general) and for IBM Connections Development?
  • #ibmconnections & #ibmconnectionsdev
  • #ibmcon & #ibmcondev
  • #ibmcnx & #ibmcnxdev
  • #connections & #connectionsdev
  • Something else
We'd love as much feedback as we can get so that we can make the right decision on this and that it really is a community decision.  Please do take the time to vote!

In closing, there is already a fantastic Connections community out there.  Sure it isn't as big as the Notes/Domino one right now, but it is active, energetic and growing fast.  If you're interested in Connections and Social Business in general, there is no time like the present.  Get stuck in, and you are sure to recoup far more than you yourself put in.  After all, that's the whole point of Social, right?! ;-)

By: Stuart McIntyre | 22 Comments | On: 29 May 2012 08:00:00 AM | Tags:  connections  ibm  twitter  blog  hashtags 


1) Growing the community means getting customers using it
Jason Hook 05/29/2012 9:59:41 AM

There are lots of SME's out there probably not well serviced by IBM or BP's that need clear help to decide if Connections is a good fit for them.

My suspicion is that the cost of hardware and software for companies with less than 100 users would make it very expensive.

If I'm wrong is there a document which clearly describes the benefits, the hardware requirements, and the costs of implementing Connections? What are the alternatives to on premise?

2) Useful post thank you
Jason Hook 05/29/2012 10:01:36 AM

I forgot to thank you for the information, it's a very useful summary.

3) Tags
Niklas Heidloff 05/29/2012 10:06:29 AM

Stuart, thx for posting these links and asking people to vote on the Twitter hashtag.

That same tag (the dev version) should be used on StackOverflow so that people can easier find Connections related questions. Once defined we should create this tag on StackOverflow as the community has done it for XPages ({ Link }

4) Thanks for the comments
Stuart McIntyre 05/29/2012 2:01:54 PM

Thanks for the comments folks!

@1 definitely agree, that would be a very useful doc. I'll look to get together with others in Collaboration Matters to pull this together.

@3 That would be great... Good idea

5) Helpful post, thanks
Nigel Cheshire 06/01/2012 6:34:49 PM

"Your post has really helped me, thank you." ;-)

Seriously, this is a great summary of ways to get involved in the Connections community - thanks for posting.

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