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How can you get involved in the community if you can't travel?

Recorded – watch the full episode on YouTube.

What would you recommend to someone who wants to get more involved in the community, but can't travel to most popular meetups?

Paola Mata: Probably connecting with some of the groups that are online. Something like CodeNewbies. They have their regular Q&A events. I think they happen on Mondays. It's just like an online Twitter storm Q&A featuring somebody new.

I can see not everyone is in like a major city, that's going to have its own dedicated meetup group. But like I said, I've met a lot of people online using Twitter. There might be other groups that are available.

“Maybe start your own. There's a very good chance that there are other folks who might be interested in having a community. Even if it is smaller, it doesn't have to be this enormous group.”

There might be some Slack groups that you could belong to. Maybe just like somehow finding a small group in your area. I've had the experience of just starting a meetup several times and seeing who shows up. Maybe start your own. There's a very good chance that there are other folks who might be interested in having a community. Even if it is smaller, it doesn't have to be this enormous group.

Paul Hudson: Having a small meetup, even four or five people. Hanging out, chatting about stuff, can work wonders. Ash Furrow actually started this in New York, calling it Peer Labs. And it's lovely – I went to one in Amsterdam and it's basically, “we'll be in this coffee shop from 10:00 AM till noon. Bring a laptop, do some coding together, hang out, chat. Ask questions, if you want to.”

There's no formal presentation. There's no free pizza and all those nice perks perhaps. But it's the chance to meet like-minded folks in a low-stress environment where you'll do the same thing you would've done anyway, quite frankly, just tap on your code for a while. But you can ask questions. You can chat, you can network. And it's a lovely, fun, easy way I think, to get started.

“It takes a lot of guts to get out there and say, ‘This is what I'm thinking, where am I going wrong?’ And hopefully folks will very gently, very kindly guide you to where you need to be.”

Paola Mata: I am one of those people who prefers smaller, one-to-one, couple-of-people conversation than trying to speak to a large group. So that works a lot for me. And it was very similar to the first group I started with. Maybe three or four people would show up and we'd just have coffee. And I loved it. I got a lot out of it. You feel a lot safer, I think to ask your questions or to share like, “hey, I find this really hard.” Or share code. Maybe you can do some pairing. All it takes is a couple of people.

Paul Hudson: Honestly, it takes a lot of bravery sometimes to ask questions. Because you're thinking to yourself, "Wow. This is a stupid question. I'm a stupid person." Whatever it is, you're thinking in your head. And it takes a lot of guts to get out there and say, “this is what I'm thinking, where am I going wrong?” And hopefully folks will very gently, very kindly guide you to where you need to be.

But sometimes that isn't that way. And that's where the fear comes from. Stack Overflow, for example is pretty vicious places. I don't ask questions there very often because I don't like it. I think the environment is hostile to people. So yes, finding a small group that you can trust to respect you and trust you and walk through problems in a nice, friendly, welcoming way.

This transcript was recorded as part of Swiftly Speaking. You can watch the full original episode on YouTube, or subscribe to the audio version on Apple Podcasts.

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