When I moved to Chicago, I did not know many people in the developer community. But after living here over a year and working here for over 2 years, I've discovered that the metropolitan Chicago area boasts a strong developer community, led by a number of dedicated influencers. I was impressed by the number of meetups, code camps, and other events that are run by volunteers.

On October 19, Microsoft invited influencers from Chicago and its surrounding areas to come to our office for a Chicago Influencers Summit.

The goals of the summit were:

  • Get to know the influencers better;
  • Let them know that I am here to help;
  • Let them know about Microsoft DX and what we can offer
  • Give influencers a chance to get to know one another better

We invited leaders of key user groups from around Chicagoland, as well as influencers who frequently lead community events.

Not all the influencers were from the .NET community, as we invited leaders from Java User groups, the node.js meetup, Ruby developers, and many others who have very little interest in Microsoft technology but who still volunteer their time supporting the local developer community. 18 influencers attended, as well as Microsoft Technical Evangelists Sarah Sexton and me.

We began by giving everyone a chance to introduce themselves, followed by an introduction Microsoft DX and its goals within the community.

We had an excellent discussion about how we can better communicate with one another and debated the value of regular phone calls, threaded discussions with tools like Yammer and Slack; and a community calendar. We decided on creating a Wordpress site with a calendar and a comment section. We also decided to reboot the monthly "Midwest Geeks Call" - a once-popular Skype call that has not been well-attended in recent months. We settled on a more convenient day and time for this call.

An open discussion on issues faced by event organizers yielded some interesting conversation topics, including an exchange of ideas on the importance of diversity among conference speakers and how to increase diversity.

We also discussed the possibility of hosting a community event in early 2016, but did not finalize plans for this before adjourning for the day.

The biggest benefit we gained from this event was an opening of communication channels - not only between Microsoft and the community; but also between supporters of disparate areas of the developer community. I believe this will be a good step in the direction of keeping these communication channels open.