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I work for a small to mid-sized business (150 people across 6 locations). There are two of us in the IT department. How can I connect with the other small-business admins in my rural community?

There's a local AITP chapter that is mostly composed of developers or sysadmins from large businesses or county government agencies. Those conversations never seem very productive: each person is responsible for a single system, often in some form of mainframe technology. I'd love to discuss linux, Windows 2008, or open-source software, but I think I'm looking in the wrong place.

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8 Answers 8

up vote 4 down vote accepted

User groups sound like what you are looking for, linux.org maintains a list of Linux based ones: http://www.linux.org/groups/usa/

Here's some info on Microsoft related user groups: http://www.microsoft.com/communities/usergroups/default.mspx

You can also try http://www.apcug.net for more user group info.

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You can always look for existing MeetUp groups or start a new one if none exist.

http://www.meetup.com/

Also, take a look at the Network Professional Association and see if they have anything to offer as far as local chapters go.

(It can be found easily enough using Google, I'm just not allowed to post more than one hyperlink since I don't have a reputation built up.)

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If you have communication with some of your community's technical colleagues, you could ask them if they'd all like to participate in a listserv where they can all network and discuss technical solutions.

In my work, we encourage school district technical admins to join our listserves where technical topics related to education are discussed.

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If you are in a smaller community (as you indicated), you might want to consider a more direct approach and build something. The likelihood of just a handful of people finding a MeetUp group is pretty small.

What I would do is make a list of companies that fit your profile (size of the business, proximity to you), then either send them an email through their website or call them to find out who their IT responsible is.

Something like: "Hey there,

I'm the sysadmin over at XYZ, Co. I'm trying to get together a small group of net admins that would meet up occaisionally to talk about sys admin issues like Linux, Windows 2008, etc. Would you be interested?"

I haven't tried this personally, but if someone called me with something like that I would respond positively.

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facebook, linkedin, craigslist

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Isn't that what Serverfault is for? :)

To be honest, this is about the only way I can collaborate with other sysadmins. While I live in a large city, I don't really have time outside of work to do that sort of thing, what with a 2 year old and another on the way.

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I'd also like to answer "blogs".

I run Standalone Sysadmin, which sort of caters to small infrastructure sysadmins. I've got around a thousand subscribers and of those, a couple of dozen people who come back again and again to comment and interact with each other. It's great to see.

In addition, there is a social network setup specifically for sysadmins, called creatively, The Sysadmin Network. It's devoted to helping sysadmins communicate to each other.

Join user groups, join a professional association, like LOPSA, SAGE, and go to (or start) local chapters of the above.

I've seen time and time again that there are always more people interested in joining a group than there are people interested in starting a group. Once the momentum is going, people jump on the bandwagon like there's no tomorrow.

To advertise your usergroup (or whatever), put ads in papers, local website, local businesses, whatever you've got. Trust me, the people are out there, they just have to be found.

Sometimes all it takes to get a group going is to find that one old grizzled sysop that used to run the community BBS. The old BBS people probably got together back in the day, but now that the net is here and the BBSes have died, they don't have a reason. Give them one.

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Attend conferences, go to product demonstrations, training courses, that kind of thing. Online can be great but nothing compares to face-to-face.

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