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Kicking off 2013: Five Tips for a Successful SharePoint Career

It’s the fourth of January.   Presents have long since been unwrapped, year’s end revels have come to an end of their own, the “best of” lists have been read and discarded, and with the notable exception of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and this year’s SEC powerhouse du jour, the bowl games have all been played.
For many of the people who make a living from SharePoint in one way or another, this time of the year also marks a temporary end to the inevitable questions from friends and family—many only seen over the holidays—about what it is, exactly, that we do.
This moment is generally welcomed by most of us.  Very few folk in our field, after all, haven’t had an awkward conversation like this one:
THEM: So what is it you’re doing these days?
YOU: I’m a SharePoint (architect / consultant / developer / analyst).
THEM, staring blankly:
YOU: It’s a kind of software.  It helps people work together.
THEM, losing interest:
YOU: Right.  Can I get you another drink?
The fact is, many of us SharePoint people wake up every day and we do amazing things.  We might be configuring document management systems to eliminate huge amounts of wasteful paper storage, doing our part in helping our clients go green (and to the cloud, at that).  Maybe we’re building clever applications to make business processes more efficient—and accessible on-the-go from mobile devices.    Perhaps we’re helping customers become more agile by planning and constructing internal social networks (my personal favorite of 2012-2013).
The bottom line is, we have some pretty incredible jobs in this SharePoint Community—and if you’re not in one, you could be.
So I’m going to use my first blog series of 2013 to tell you how.
Why me?  I’m hardly a guru.  (I don’t believe in self-appointed SharePoint gurus, really, but that’s a blog post for another day. “Ninja” or even “Jedi” might be acceptable, but… right, I said another day.)  I’m just another wise guy who’s made a career out of SharePoint.  But that’s it exactly—there’s something for me, sure, but plenty here for many others, too.
In my years of talking to and working with some of the best in this industry, I’ve found that very few people in this field came into it without a background in something completely different.  That sort of variety and diversity tells me there’s something here for just about anyone who wants in.
That said, you have to be good enough.  You have to be smart enough.  You have to be willing to work.  If all of those things are true, then read on, because I’m going to share what I’ve learned in forging a great career in this field with hopes that I can help you do the same.
I don’t want to be too much of a tease, so here’s a quick bullet list of my suggestions.  I’m aiming to explore each and every one of these in detail via separate posts next week—an actual series!  Until then, help yourselves to Rich Wood’s Decidedly Non-Guru-Approved Tips for a Fun and Fulfilling SharePoint Career:

  • There are three key paths to a SharePoint career: Partners, Enterprise IT, and one other very obvious but rather selective route.
  • Use what you know.  Devs and IT Pros are essential in this business, but you’d be surprised how many writers, teachers, librarians, designers and Facebook addicts (huh?) become SharePoint consultants.
  • There’s no formal degree program in SharePoint… but you can still get educated.  I’m not just talking about Microsoft’s certification programs, either, although there’s a lot of value in those.
  • Technical skills are highly valuable, but business skills are crucial too.  Process improvement and change management are just two disciplines that map directly to supporting SharePoint solutions.
  • Get connected.  Seriously.  Go to SharePoint ConferenceFollow the community Twitterheads.  Attend your local SharePoint User Group and/or SharePoint Saturday, and start them if they don’t exist.

And one last blatant plug thing… if you’re truly interested in a top-flight SharePoint career, you should check out our Careers page.  More on this topic next week!

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Rich Wood

Rich Wood has been planning, designing and building enterprise solutions and internet sites with an emphasis on stellar user and customer experiences since 1997. Rich is a National Director for Content and Commerce Platform work in Perficient Digital. One of the rare breed of strategists to truly understand both the business needs of the customer and the platforms that serve them, he is a keen advocate for and accomplished speaker/writer on issues that surround that inflection point. His work has been published on CMSWire, Sitecore and Microsoft partner blogs, and his own LinkedIn page as well as our various blogs here at Perficient, and he has spoken at multiple major conferences including Microsoft's SharePoint Conference 2014. Married and a father of five, Rich enjoys spending time with his wife and family. He is a native of South Milwaukee, Wisconsin and a graduate of Marquette University.

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