Tip: Learn through sharing

Finula sent out an email yesterday asking a group of us to supply some tips for being a successful developer. The short versions will get included in this afternoon’s MSDN Flash newsletter, and we’re each blogging our full response.

My personal advice is to recognize the power of learning through sharing. Coatesy touched on the idea at the end of his own tip.

Attending user groups is one thing, but getting up and contributing your own knowledge is what really drives these groups. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much you’ll actually learn about a technology if you step back and prepare a presentation for your peers which explains what that technology is, and how it works.

One of my work mates, Steve Godbold, recently delivered a presentation about LINQ. In prepping for the talk he knew he’d need to explain expression trees, and he guessed he’d get some questions about LINQ to SQL vs LINQ to Entities. Pleasantly shocked about how much more there was to know about LINQ, he’s know turned this prep into a series of blog posts too.

Presenting isn’t for everyone though, but this is where blogging steps in. It might seem a bit egotistical at first to think that people want to read what you have to say, but the reality is people genuinely do! Think about the number of times you’ve ended up reading somebody’s blog post before to help you solve a problem. Posts don’t need to be technical wizardry to warrant publishing either – it’s often the simple little tricks that people find real value in. One of my more popular posts describes how to do a hover effect in CSS. It also opens up your ideas for others to comment on, which might prompt something you’d never thought of before.

Hopefully this will give you a bit of inspiration to get up and really participate in the vibrant technical community around you.

What now? If you haven’t already, subscribe to MSDN Flash, submit your 10 minute demo for the chance to win big prizes, contribute to your local user group, and start a blog.

What’s your tip for being a great developer?