Several years ago, whenever I was bored, I would either play a game on my phone or lurk on Facebook to check out what everyone was up to. Then, I discovered all of the forums, Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, and other sources of industry and brand-specific information. Now, when I’m just hanging out or a little bored, I pick up my phone and end up spending hours down a rabbit hole of amazing information. I learn so much and get some great ideas from these communities that I wanted to share with all of you what I have been using.
There is a great Crestron Professionals Group and Crestron Programmers Group on Facebook,. They are both closed groups, and you need be approved by the forum admins, but there is an amazing amount of great information and extremely helpful dealers and programmers who assist group members with all sorts of issues
My Control4 colleagues swear by the Control4 Programmers group on Facebook as well. Not only are there very helpful Control4 dealers on the site, but some Control4 technical and engineering staff are members and help out frequently.
I am a member of the CrestronLabs online community, where we interact with Crestron engineering and development teams to influence existing and new product development. This is an invite-only community, as well, but it is fantastic for those of us who participate.
Control4, Savant, and URC all have secure access, dealer-only forums where integrators can ask questions and often get answers from not only other dealers, but also from company staff.
User Forums and Groups
There is an active C4Forums.com for both end users and dealers. There is a lot of activity and there are dealers helping end users out with learning how to program (using the Control4 Home Edition for end users) and even offering remote support for existing systems, which helps power end users not feel tied to a dealer they may not mesh well with or to help clients in remote areas without dealers who can assist them.
I follow industry peers and experts on LinkedIn to read articles that they write and even to reach out for networking opportunities. LinkedIn is much more professionally focused, so there is less back and forth, and it is more of a place for people to write and post articles and information. Much of it is not brand-specific but is about new technology and trends in the industry and helps keep me on top of what is happening.
There is so much more to staying on top of your game than watching some webinars and doing dealer and industry trainings. Dealer and user communities expose real-life situations, problems, and solutions. I cannot even begin to explain how much I have learned and expanded my knowledge base by participating (and often just lurking) in these communities.
Fortunately, I love what I do and reading and participating in these online communities is enjoyable for me. I do not see it as a chore or something I have to do. Instead, it is something I choose to do, and the added benefit is that I am more educated and it keeps me sharp. If you have a passion for what you do, I highly recommend becoming involved in the dealer-specific, end-user and industry online communities.