P1060199 I want to extend a HUMONGUS THANK YOU to my new friends in Poland for allowing me to travel out there a few weeks ago and meet with so many wonderful people in their community.  I had a great time travelling to and speaking at 5 different cities in Poland over 8 days time – my only regret is that I wasn’t able to take any of my family along for the trip. 

During my stay in Poland I visited a total of 6 cities – Wroclaw, Torun, Gdansk, Sopot, Warsaw and Krakow.  Each had its own unique charm, a ton of very friendly people and some of the coolest historical sites I‘ve ever been to – just standing outsite a church that was built in the year 966 was awe inspiring!  I was able to do some presetntations at these groups as well including the a keynote slot at the Wroclaw Heroes {Community} Launch event , presentations at the Torun .NET User Group, Gdansk .NET User Group and Warsaw .NET User Groups, and a featured speaker slot at the first ever Krakow CodeCamp.

Many people have asked “how were you able to score a trip to Poland?”  Here’s the story about how this all came to be…

A few months ago, right after the InstallFest events in Tulsa and Dallas, I received an email from Szymon Kobalczyk – leader of the .NET User Group in Kraków, Poland - asking for some information about how we planned and executed the two InstallFests.  He and I spent time time going back and forth over email discussing what I’d P1060035done for Dallas and Tulsa, and what he was thinking about doing in Kraków.  Soon I received an email back from him saying that they’d completed their event and had some pictures to show.  “Cool,” I thought, “these guys were able to pull it off!”  Then, a week or two later, I received an email from Łukasz Olbromski – leader of the .NET User Group in Wrocław, Poland – who’d heard about Szymon’s InstallFest and wanted to do the same thing with his group.  After a similar flurry of emails back and forth, they too had completed their InstallFest and also had pictures to show (although the site seems to be down as I write this).  Two User Groups, two cities, two InstallFests – fantastic!   But Łukasz wasn’t done yet – next up on his plate was running his own Heroes {Community} Launch event like those that some of us had been blogging about.  This time though, instead of asking me questions over email, Łukasz asked me if I’d like to come out to Poland and take part in the event in person.  Luckily for me, our schedules lined up perfectly and I was able to spend 8 fantastic days in Poland.

During my time in Poland, I got a chance to talk with a lot of very smart, fun and interesting people.  Technology is always interesting to talk about, but I had some of the best conversations of all talking about community.  Here in the US, especially in the South Central District (TX, OK, LA, and AR) we’re very fortunate to have so many very strong developer communities and a dedicated support structure for those communities.  In Poland, there is not the same level of investment across the board at the User Group level, so much of the community organizing and coordination has to be done by the User Groups themselves.  The Microsoft team in Poland has done a great job of supporting their groups, and I’m glad to say that through events like the Heroes {Community} Launch and the Krakow CodeCamp, the Polish .NET developer community is growing closer together.  Szymon told me on my last day in Poland that although the User Groups across Poland had never really worked together on anything, coordinating my tour of their country gave them a reason to get to know each other better and work together towards a common goal.  Although I took no active part in the collaboration between the groups prior to my trip, I’m proud to know that at least in some small part I was able to make an impact to the .NET developer community in Poland and help them grow closer together as a team.

Łukasz and Szymon were the two key individuals that made my trip possible, but there were a lot of other folks that contributed to the overall trip that I’d like to thank too – a special “shout out” to Dominika in Wroclaw, Maciej in Torun, Michal in Gdansk, Marek and Pawel in Warsaw and Szymon in Krakow.  This team of Community Champions and .NET developers had not really worked together on coordinating something like this before, and it was great to see them all come together towards a common set of goals.  I look forward to learning a lot about community building from my new friends in Poland – I’ve learned a lot from them already and look forward to continuing our new friendship!

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Oh – I don’t want to forget to include some links from my travels.  I hope you enjoy them: