Episode 5 of the Mavens Do It Better Podcast features Dylan Snodgrass, Community Manager, Microsoft Tech Community
Listen in as Heather Newman talks with Dylan about:
How he got his start in IT
What it means to be a Millennial in the workforce
Using digital and social tools to create communities
The value of Microsoft Tech Community
Heather Newman: Okay, so we're here at the MVP Summit. This is Heather Newman with another Maven Moments podcast. Hello, I'm here with Mr. Dylan.
Dylan Snodgrass: Hello.
Heather Newman: Hi, how are you?
Dylan Snodgrass: I'm doing well, how are you?
Heather Newman: Good. I would consider you a Maven, an expert in all things digital and tech community.
Dylan Snodgrass: I'm really into that. Yeah.
Heather Newman: This week. Will you introduce yourself tell everybody.
Dylan Snodgrass: Yeah, I'm Dylan. I'm a community manager for the Microsoft Tech Community, which is kind of a social space for Office and Microsoft IT Pros who can discuss different things within the Microsoft sphere, ask questions, even reach out to other MVPs like you. As well as kind of go and speak with other members of the Microsoft product team who are with the tech community themselves as well as, of course, consume the Microsoft Ignite and Microsoft Tech Summit content. Throughout the year.
Heather Newman: That's great. Where did you start in IT?
Dylan Snodgrass: Well, starting with Microsoft IT, I started over with community management over with Xbox actually. And then from there I moved over to Skype, just consumer side of Skype, mostly handling social media. And then from there I moved over here to the Microsoft Tech Community. So it's just gotten broader and broader and broader.
Heather Newman: That's awesome. So where are you from?
Dylan Snodgrass: Well I come from a military family. So, I am located here in the Seattle/Redmond area now, and I've been in this area since I was eight. Before that it was all over.
Heather Newman: Awesome. Yeah. I was, my dad worked for JC Penny, so it's kinda like being a military brat. You know, the MVP Summit gets a lots of hugs of people coming in and out. We're out in the…
Dylan Snodgrass: We're all popular.
Heather Newman: Dux just came by. So we're out in the open. Anyway, that's great. So did you always want to be in IT? How did you get here?
Dylan Snodgrass: So, a big thing that I always loved, I just loved the possibility within socializing and creating social spaces that allows people to discuss the things they need to discuss, whether that be IT or anything under the sun really. I just kind of have fallen into IT. You know, being in this area, it's very much an IT kind of area, so it's kind of hard to escape. But I've also, I mean being a millennial I've always been a fan of technology and I've always been a fan of how technology works and how it can be better.
Heather Newman: Right. Yeah. I was going to ask you about that because I was like, you are a millennial for sure.
Dylan Snodgrass: I am a millennial. A lot of people are millennials and they don't even know it.
Heather Newman: That's true, I guess.
Dylan Snodgrass: Because I'm actually kind of, so I was born in 92'. I know everybody get your gasps out now. I know. Wow. Are Your eyes still working from that eye roll?
Heather Newman: I know. Ooh snap!
Dylan Snodgrass: But you know, that's actually kind of closer to the tail end of the millennial generation. A lot of people are before that. A lot of people who think that they were born in like the mid to early eighties don't consider themselves millennial, but they actually are.
Heather Newman: That's true. Absolutely. It is a larger spectrum than I think people really realize. I've been seeing a lot of articles about millennials in that, like are people, so businesses going, you know, we have to make a plan to deal with our millennials, like they're a problem and I think it's actually, you know, millennials, are actually solving a lot of problems. Do you find that you're getting things that are targeted towards you that are either on point, or just so off base that you're like really? I don't know.
Dylan Snodgrass: I think at the start of when people started marketing towards millennials either for a job or just for products, they kind of didn't understand what exactly millennials cared about. And I think that happens with every generation. You know, as they become adults, there's kind of a growing pain there where they don't necessarily know what that adult's, who's a consumer, because you know, you're very rarely a consumer until you're an adult.
Heather Newman: Right, money in the pocket.
Dylan Snodgrass: They don't really know what's gonna, what's gonna, catch their eye, stuff like that. That's why marketing and IT and like basically any sort of evolving, uh, can't remember the name, either way, business kind of has to keep going and growing and evolving and stuff like that. Now it's gotten a lot better, especially when it comes to like careers and stuff like that because a lot of times people have found that millennials, they don't necessarily care about, you know, as an employer you're going to do for me. It's what are my hopes that exist on the notion of you go to school and you do get good grades and you work really hard, you can do literally anything. And then you become an adult and while it's a lot better than it has been in the past, especially for people within diverse cultures. It's not always the case about being able to do anything, so you kind of really have to like focus on your dreams that really pushed you through trying so hard and I feel like that's also why a lot of the times, and you even see this with younger generations, but also with millennials, the effort it took to get to that point has gotten, that like road has gotten longer and longer because with technology that grows, the time it takes to learn that technology also grows sometimes, not all the time. Sometimes things get easier because people get innovative, but sometimes things get more difficult. Like math, I'm really bad at math.
Heather Newman: You and me both. I'm Gen X or Y. I think I'm Gen X. But uh, yeah or Y, or both. I'm cuspy. But, not my strong suit. I took logic in college, you know
Dylan Snodgrass: Oh yeah, that must have been fun. Just a lot of questions and zero answers.
Heather Newman: Such is life sometimes.
Dylan Snodgrass: I feel like, you know, like, you know, that is kind of the reality of it.
Heather Newman: So, being someone who is doing a lot of digital and social and all of that, do you have any favorites like that you're working in or do you find that you have to sort of, you go cross omni platform, right? With what you do, but with what you're doing with your job, is there anything that's more effective or that you find is sort of easier to get to audience, especially in the tech community?
Dylan Snodgrass: Well within the tech community, I think as a whole, the tech community is just quite innovative because it basically saw multiple needs and you know, the shift that Microsoft wanted to make of, you know, bringing things together, one Microsoft, stuff like that, and has really kind of embodied that and was trying to make like a singular space where people can get help with the things they need within Microsoft products or just discuss things with the community of other IT pros, other MVPs as well. So, I think that's been great. I think Yammer does a great job with that as well, and I know a lot of professionals have a great relationship with Yammer and they think that it's wonderful and I would agree.
Heather Newman: What's Yammer, tell everybody that's listening who may not know. I'll help you with it. The Yammer, well, Yammer is for the sort of that external bunch of teams, people collaborating and working together.
Dylan Snodgrass: So, the way that people always, or at least since Ignite I've been discussing it is Yammer is the outer ring and then Microsoft Teams is the inner ring. It’s your team. So think, I guess I would think of Yammer as the company as a whole, Microsoft as a whole, MVPs as a whole. And then within Microsoft Teams it would be, you know, OSS MVPs, Azure MVPs would each be in there.
Heather Newman: Yeah, absolutely. That's cool. Yeah. How about this stuff that's sort of outside Microsoft like Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn and Snapchat and all that?
Dylan Snodgrass: Yeah. Well, I mean there's everything under the sun really, but I think Twitter is great and I think it's going to always be great because it does a really great job of giving you a live snapshot of what something is, what someone is saying, what people are doing, stuff like that. It's really great and you know, easily consumable way to get a message across. And that's really important in social media because a lot of the times social media and technology is consumed on the go and it has to be consumed quickly or you have to be able to consume it while walking, which sometimes can be dangerous. And so, you can actually look up in between tweets, you know, and actually like know where you're walking before you walked out in the middle of the street. Another great social media platform that I think is doing a really great job is Facebook. I know that they've been trying to reach out more to their business leaders, don't know a whole bunch on that just yet. We're still kind of waiting to see where those waters go. But I think overall, overall as a community, you know, I grew up in the world of Myspace. You know, I was a teenager, you know, leading into Myspace and it wasn't until I was turning about 17, 18 that Facebook really kinda grew past a college, like meet your future dorm mate type of situation is kind of what it first started out as. And then with that, you know, Myspace had to completely transition over from being like a social platform to being a music/band platform. So, I think Facebook does a really good job. And Twitter and Facebook, those are kind of like the cornerstone of social media. Snapchat is doing a great job of kind of taking this kind of thing that you get with Twitter where it's easily consumable content and then making it visual, making it audio and accessible geographically because you can access things like Our Story, which is the Snapchat that is, you know, you and I can be not necessarily friends on Snapchat, but if we both add to Our Story, we will see each other’s stuff because we're in the same location or because we're part of the same demographic group.
Heather Newman: Did you hate the big update that they just did?
Dylan Snodgrass: I wasn't a huge fan. I wasn't nearly as mad at it as other people were. People were up in arms. Think about it. It was so much that they had to be like, “We're sorry we're changing it back”. Which, you know, that doesn't happen all the time.
Heather Newman: No, that’s some power to the people.
Dylan Snodgrass: Yeah, power of the people, power of the public court. I think I do like, you know, I do like Snapchat what they're doing now. I think with that update they were kind of going in the right direction, but it was a bit wonky and they just kind of need to refine it a little bit and it'll be great.
Heather Newman: Yeah. So, is there anything as far as the digital/social, so someone is in school or you know, looking to get into something similar that, like your path and your journey. Do you have some suggestions for folks, you know?
Dylan Snodgrass: Well something that really helped me with kind of understanding the industry is by consuming it on a personal level, you know? Growing up with social media and I live in social, I understand how that world works. Because it's not like regular marketing worlds where it's like, you know, the time of email blasts and you know, large signs out on the side of the buildings, stuff like that.
Heather Newman: Dancing people?
Dylan Snodgrass: Dancing people! Who knows, even though people are still paid to like dance and flip those things like crazy. But that kind of era, while it's not necessarily ending, it's being kind of overshadowed in my personal opinion by social media. You know, you can reach billions of people with typing 160 characters and clicking a button. And that's insane. Everything is cool and there forever, even if it's deleted, you know, it kind of creates a world where you have to be more aware of what you do. It doesn't always work. Not everyone is aware of what they do, but I feel like that is a big thing, is kind of growing up in the social media world and growing up in the communications world you know, really does help. And then of course understanding baselines of communication on, you know, going to school for it, learning where the history is of these kinds of industry, of what these kinds of jobs are. It is so expansive, it's more expansive than people think, you know, just how the history of syntax and communicating really came from.
Heather Newman: Words are kinda of powerful.
Dylan Snodgrass: They are powerful, and they have to be powerful.
Heather Newman: Absolutely. That's great. And with that, the last sort of thing I wanted to ask is, so I love what you do, and it's been fun hanging out with you and meeting you.
Dylan Snodgrass: Yeah, it’s been a great few days.
Heather Newman: You know, and since Ignite and you know, a long time and tell everybody about just why they should connect up with the tech community, because I know that it's near and dear to your heart, just make sure they know where to go to kind of see what you're doing and keep up on all of that sort of thing, with Microsoft.
Dylan Snodgrass: Yeah, of course. I mean I feel like anyone who actively works with Microsoft products, like if you've ever been in a situation where you're just, you don't know what to do and you're going through forums, you're going through support stuff and you're like, “Well, I have a question”, you know, and talk to somebody at Microsoft, that's great. And that's a great avenue to go. But sometimes you can talk to an MVP or someone who's been through your exact same issue or dilemma and, or someone who, you know, wasn't that same issue, and realize like this is so much easier than it can be. This is how you do it. You can reach that within the tech community. You can ask these questions, you can create that dialogue with other IT pros, with MVPs and with members of those product teams, because they have accounts as well, and it's connected through Microsoft. You log in with your Microsoft account and then of course working in IT you want to consume the most recent content. You want to consume everything that's new. We land so many blogs. Microsoft Teams has their blog on the tech community. SharePoint has their blog in the tech community and Office 365 has a blog. Analytics has a blog. There's so many blogs I can, it would take all of the time we had to list all of them. So I can't.
Heather Newman: So, don't.
Dylan Snodgrass: I won't. But you can find news, you can find answers and you can get all of the content from Ignite and Tech Summits in real time. You know, I mean with Ignite last year, the day after the sessions, the PowerPoints, even some recordings were uploaded onto the tech community and that's, I mean it's free. It's free guys. Like come on.
Heather Newman: Free and quick we like those things.
Dylan Snodgrass: Yeah, free and quick, who doesn't love that? If you grew up on the internet like me, free and quick is your bread and butter.
Heather Newman: Well, this has been lovely. Thank you for sitting with me for a minute.
Dylan Snodgrass: Of course.
Heather Newman: Okay, I'm going to sign off to everybody. Okay.
Dylan Snodgrass: Cheers everyone.
Heather Newman: Yes, cheers everyone.
Dylan Snodgrass: Bye.
Heather Newman: This is Heather Newman with another maven moments podcast. Have a lovely day and keep on learning.