This is a guest post by Steve Elgan, IT Director at OneWorld Community Health Centers & Heartland Community Health Network and Vice President of the Citrix User Group Community’s Steering Committee.

When we needed to reduce the log on time for our end users at OneWorld Community Health Centers, where I’m the IT director, I knew exactly where to turn for ideas: the Citrix User Group Community (CUGC). I had been involved since 2015 and had seen the power of what you could learn from the community and put into practice.

That’s what we did — we applied what we learned. Using information from CUGC blog posts and CUGC members, we were able to reduce our logon time by almost 50 percent. That’s a big deal in a medical setting, where our users need to move quickly from one task to another without waiting to get logged in to an application or system.

I got involved with the CUGC because one of the Omaha Co-Leads, Scott Osborne, told me about the idea after the announcements at Synergy back in 2015. I was excited about the concept and offered to help start the Omaha group with him, Ryan Revord, and Ben Tusa. The group has helped me grow my network, get access to the latest information about Citrix products, and bounce ideas off other technology pros who come at problems from different directions and whose input has had an impact on our organization. I can’t imagine doing my job today without being involved in CUGC.

There are a lot of reasons to get involved in CUGC. For one, it’s all free: the network, the content, the advice. All you have to do is take the initiative to get engaged and contribute. Here are some other reasons to join that I hope will pique your interest and get you connected to a CUCG meeting in your area:

An Incredible Network

The single biggest reason to join is the network. Getting involved in CUGC connected me to a global network of experienced, knowledgeable IT pros. I learned to love Twitter, and I started following and engaging with Citrix Technology Professionals and Citrix Technology Advocates. I get to know people before I meet them in person, so when I go to events like Synergy, I have this network I can plug into immediately. We all have something in common—Citrix technologies—and we have this community spirit. We want to give back and connect and make the community even better.

The Ability to Stay Plugged Into Citrix Trends

CUGC helps me stay up to date on the latest features and functionality of the Citrix product suite. I have a pulse on what the community is thinking, what they’re testing, and what they’re implementing for their customers. I know they’re experienced, and I value their opinions and factor them into my decision-making process. You’re going to learn about technologies and approaches you didn’t know about. It’s a really cool thing for me, as an IT director, to be able to learn something new that could fit within our strategy and benefit our organization and our end users.

Easy Access to Help

In a job like this, it can be easy to feel alone or feel like the challenges you’re facing are unique. When we run into a problem locally, I have this community I can just plug into. I don’t have to go searching for the expertise, because it’s all right here. I can just tap into the community and say, “Has anyone seen this issue? Can you point me in the right direction?” The community is made up of people who are very good at staying on top of the latest and greatest in bleeding-edge technologies.

Broad Benefits

Of course, our end users benefit because we have a brilliant community we can turn to figure out ways to improve what we do, but there’s also a benefit for my team professionally. I have team members who now go to meetings regularly and who have gotten involved and have even presented. They’re meeting people who challenge them and make them think about problems in new ways. Because we’re engaged with the community, my team is getting to do new things and work on new technologies that they otherwise wouldn’t get to experience.

Opportunities to Share

One of the best ways to contribute is to present on a problem you’ve solved. You might think it’s not interesting, but I can tell you there are a ton of people who have had or are having the same problem. If you share your experience at a local meeting, at another event or even in a blog post, you can really bring a lot of value to the group and maybe help others solve problems they’re having.

I’m a big believer in the proximity principle — this idea that you should find people who are doing what you want to be doing and put yourself in their proximity. That’s what happens with the CUGC. You connect with experts. You get engaged. You grow. And you and your organization benefit.

Steve Elgan is the IT Director at OneWorld Community Health Centers & Heartland Community Health Network in Omaha, Nebraska, where he and his teams provide IT support for more than 1,200 users. Steve is a Citrix Technology Advocate, a Local CUGC Leader, and the Vice President of the Citrix User Group Community’s Steering Committee.