It is that time of the year when you make New Year resolutions. Some of you might have few professional goals as well. I wish you succeed in your resolutions and have a wonderful year ahead. Can you answer the following questions?Do you want to improve your testing skills? Increase your chances of getting a new job? Have you set targets to learn new technology or be up-to-date with the latest trends in software testing? I think apart from conscious practice, I found something interesting which will help us in achieving all of the above goals. The answer is testing meetups. I have shared a brief outline of testing meetups below.

Meetups-Ajay-BalamurugadasIntroduction: Meetup is defined as an informal meeting or gathering. A testing meetup would be for testers to discuss about a specific topic in software testing. It could again be restricted to a specific topic or very informal and generic in nature. Have you attended any meetup till now? What is your experience with meetups?

Networking: How large is your network? Do you know testers outside of your company, at least your team? How many of your friends are from the software industry and in constant touch with you? Meetups provide an excellent opportunity to meet new people from the industry. You could also meet someone who shares the same interests as you. Right partners create the positive peer pressure and encourage you to achieve your goals. You could find the right partner who could learn along with you. How many times have you received requests from strangers asking you to refer them in your organization? Would you like to be like the stranger or have a good network which will help you when you need it the most?

Context: It is a known fact that context plays an important role in software testing. How many different contexts do you experience every week? Usually, we would work on the same projects with the same risks with the same team members. What will we learn if we experience the same context for a long period of time? Meetups provide an excellent opportunity to learn about new contexts. When I attended the CAST conference, I was surprised to listen to stories by testers who test software used in space crafts. I would have never imagined testing such software in my daily testing life. It was wonderful to think, discuss, and learn about different contexts. Try it to believe it.

Convinced enough to attend a meetup? Read on.

Initiate One: If you think it is hard to initiate a meetup, think again. It is quite easy to initiate one. All you might have to do is to invite few people, spread the news on social media, arrange for some snacks and facilitate a good discussion. The investment required to start a meetup would be very less compared to the value gained from a tester gathering. People like to attend meetups but do not want to start one. Take advantage of this opportunity.

Join One: If you are still hesitating to start a meetup, gain experience by joining one. There are already many meetups already happening near you. Check out www.meetup.com, fire up your favourite search engine and search, talk to people, check out conferences and see if there are existing meetups. Sometimes, it is worth spending money and travelling to a different city to attend a meetup. Start with one, two and slowly you might have enough experience to initiate one on your own.

Skills: Coming to the most important aspect of meetups, Skills play an important part. Many do not have experience of giving a crisp introduction. They are not able to convey their thoughts in a gathering confidently. Some testers do not consider note taking as an important skill. At the other end, few testers don’t know when to stop talking and start listening. All these skills and many more skills can be improved by participating in meetups regularly. Many want to improve their skills but do not practice. Do not be like them. Use meetups as your practice ground.

Have you heard of meetups conducted by STeP-IN Forum, Test Maniac, and 99Tests?

Contact them and attend a meetup near you. Let me know your experiences. Till the next edition, Happy Networking.

#This article was originally published in Testing Circus January 2016 Edition.

https://i2.wp.com/www.testingcircus.com/wp-content/uploads/Meetups-Ajay-Balamurugadas.png?fit=919%2C448&ssl=1https://i2.wp.com/www.testingcircus.com/wp-content/uploads/Meetups-Ajay-Balamurugadas.png?resize=150%2C150&ssl=1Ajay BalamurugadasArticlesIt is that time of the year when you make New Year resolutions. Some of you might have few professional goals as well. I wish you succeed in your resolutions and have a wonderful year ahead. Can you answer the following questions?Do you want to improve your testing skills?...
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Ajay Balamurugadas

Ajay Balamurugadas, goes by the handle ‘ajay184f’ in the testing community and is always continuously re-inventing his testing methodology. He loves being involved with Weekend Testing, Test Maniac, ISST and STeP-IN Forum. He is currently the Director of Quality Assistance at 99Tests. His passions include conducting online and in-person workshops on exploratory testing, mobile testing and helping testers discover their potential. Ajay shares his testing activities and learning through his blog http://EnjoyTesting.blogspot.com and tweets under @ajay184f
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