Whether you are are a seasoned Cisco professional or just starting out, one of the best sources of information you will find (apart from this blog :P) are internet forums. You will be amazed at just how much you can learn from them, and, if you have the time, how much you can teach others too. It is also a great place to “network” (excuse the pun).
Forums that I frequently visit include:
- Whirlpool Forum - An Australian forum that covers everything from VoIP to Network to PC Hardware.
- Experts Exchange Forum -Like Whirlpool, “EE” covers a whole range of topics and has a reward system that encourages users to assist one another.
- Cisco Forum - An excellent place to get assistance with your Cisco problems.
If you’re having a problem and you just can’t seem to resolve it, I can almost guarantee that someone on a forum will be able to help you (I speak from experience after having used the above mentioned forums). Everyone is so helpful and because most users are Cisco professionals there is nothing they have not seen before.
Forums also give you the confidence to try new things. For example, if you are interested in implementing a VoIP solution but you do not know the first thing about it, you can jump on to a forum and get the latest, most up-to-date information on prices, technologies and implementation methods with the push of a couple of buttons. They also gives you a sense of re-assurance because you know that if you don’t understand something or if you get stuck, there are users on line who are ready to help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
You will find that some forums (including the ones mentioned above) not only allow you “chat forums”, they also have other resources including Knowledge Bases or Frequently Asked Question pages which in themselves are a great source of information.
Once you do get your problems resolved it is always a good idea to stick around and assist others who are having trouble with their networks too. It is a great feeling when you know you’ve helped someone fix their problems and it is a great way to keep your knowledge fresh instead of letting it fade away in the back of your mind.
So if you are not part of a forum I strongly suggest you sign up today. You won’t regret it!
As always, if you have any questions or have a topic that you would like me to discuss, please feel free to post a comment at the bottom of this blog entry, e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or drop me a message on Reddit (OzNetNerd).
Note: The opinions expressed in this blog are my own and not those of my employer.