I have been involved with the International Institute of Business Analyst for the past 3 years, and during that time I became very involved in helping the Austin chapter grow. My decision to step forward as a volunteer was prompted by my own challenges in trying to grow in my profession with no group of peers to turn to for advice or direction in future career steps. Having recently read a great post from the IIBA BA Connection newsletter on the "Global Community of Practice", I realize that my own efforts to bring together my peers is very much aligned with the direction of the IIBA.
As stated in the article by Julian Sammy "A community of practice is more than a group of "people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly." (http://www.ewenger.com/theory/index.htm) People do not work in isolation. A competent BA can't do much to help an organization if the organization doesn't see the value in the work that the BA does. Performance may go down; even as BAs in a community of practice help each other acquire new skills, learn new techniques, and discover new tools. Any really effective Community of Practice must understand, educate, influence, and engage with the stakeholders who surround the practitioner community. These people can raise up the practice—or cause it to fail."
It is the when we come together as a group and help each other understand how others are moving a "practice" forward - that is when we are building the community! Do not work in isolation and try to figure out by yourself the best way to pursue your direction - I encourage you to reach out to your community of practitioners in your field and share how you can help!