Almost half of people recommended attending a user group, which makes me very happy. Organising user groups can be a bit of a drag, you need to be available on the same dates every month, book venues, round up speakers, and so on. It's something I've always enjoyed and I tend to "tourist" around and visit any UK groups that I can get to (or indeed any further afield if my schedule permits it), so I was delighted to see so many people suggesting this as a good way to advance. It's also a good night out usually, when I saw someone tweet about my next talk being in Manchester rather than Leeds, I had no hesitation in telling him:
Lots of other people were in favour of using free resources, and given just how excellent the free resources are in my area of expertise, PHP, that's absolutely sound advice. I do own a few books, but mostly I just ask google for whatever it was that I needed to know next - and I'll find it, on a blog, or stackoverflow, or something.
Paying for your own conferences/training was recognised as important by quite a few people, and I must say that this is certainly where I came from. The visibility let me get a job where I could attend more of these things, but at the start, I was just an attendee, tagging along to events and finding out more about the world.
Most interesting, perhaps, were the people who answered "other" and gave advice of their own:
- Speak at a conference
- leave the company for one which takes you seriously
- Work on a challenging personal project
I think I've done all of the above, and all of them have definitely brought rewards in ways that I couldn't even imagine. Thanks to all of you for the advice (I can't figure out how to see who recommended what, so we'll call it community wisdom) and for voting - definitely food for thought.