The Power of Community

April 5, 2016

By: Sherrie Rohde,
Author Title: 
Community Manager
, Magento

“Not to sound overly dramatic, but…” is a phrase I often hear when reminiscing with others in our community about the role Magento has played in our lives over the past few years. What I’ve noticed, is that in each story, in each impactful moment, there is a reference to at least one individual who either made that moment happen or played a significant role.

Just over five years ago on February 6, 2011, I boarded a plane to Magento’s inaugural Imagine conference in Los Angeles, California, to spend the following four days with faces I knew only from online interactions. At this point, I had been a forum moderator for almost a year and the Magento Community had already formed both there and on Twitter (as well as on IRC which I have never been involved in).

While Dutch, French, and German members of the Magento Community had already connected through Bargento and Meet Magento (thanks to Magento Community pioneers Guido Jansen, Thomas Fleck, Rico Neitzel and Philippe Humeau), Imagine 2011 was the first time an event existed on my side of the pond. The opportunity to meet these friends and heroes is a moment I will always hold close because of the impact it made on both my career and my life.

For me, that Imagine, and the new friends I made while there, ultimately led me to moving from working as a Magento developer for a small business to working for a Magento Technology Partner, freelancing for Magento Solution Partners and architecting an overall eCommerce strategy for a Magento Enterprise merchant before joining the Magento team in my current role. It was, if you will, my #MagentoMoment, and the two main faces behind that moment were Rhonda Rondeau, former Magento Community Manager, and Brent Peterson, Chief Evangelist at Wagento and Lead Forum Moderator on the Magento Forums at that time.

What is community?
Community, as defined by the dictionary, is “a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.” It’s not simply the vertical connection between a brand and its ecosystem; community also requires those horizontal connections between other members of the ecosystem.

Even in a business to business ecosystem, we find community with others by connecting human to human. It’s often those faces that make an impact, not the logos. As we get to know the faces, the logos become attached to that engagement and gain meaning in the process. At the end of the day, it’s those individual faces that we choose to do business with. In our all digital, hyper connected lives we often lose sight of the fact that what gives it color and meaning are the people and the experiences we share. The human connections and friendships formed are what make the product, the company and all the ecosystem of business real.

It’s natural for open source projects to form community. In fact, the Magento Community has formed so strongly that many often joke they bleed orange. This interconnectedness, combined with a willingness to contribute and help each other succeed, is what makes the Magento Community so strong.

My story above is not an outlier. I’ve heard from so many others who have been able to grow themselves and their companies as a result of being involved in the Magento Community.

The Road to Imagine 2016
If you haven’t already heard, Magento Community members Steve Deckert, Brendan Falkowski, Bret Rasmussen and Kuba Zwolinski are embarking on #RoadToImagine, a motorcycle trip through the desert to Vegas for Imagine 2016, because of a shared love of motorcycles discovered while connecting during previous Imagine events. These four represent multiple aspects of the Magento ecosystem as a technology provider, developer, merchant and solution integrator and their trip represents the journey we all take through both friendship and business.

This Road to Imagine road trip has all the makings of the sort of memorable and transformative experiences that so many across the Magento Community have shared. In fact, back in September, leading up to Meet Magento New York, Magento Evangelist Ben Marks tweeted out a question asking when those in the community met Magento. The overwhelming response and personal journeys shared made it pretty clear that these were defining moments for many involved.

Do you have a strong memory of when you first really connected with the Magento Community? Share it on Twitter with the #MagentoMoment hashtag.

If you’re part of our ecosystem and still waiting to meet others in the community face to face, I’d love to help you do so. Whether it’s meeting the Magento Masters, finding ways to get involved in the community or meeting up with a friendly face at Imagine, we’ll find the right fit for you.