I´ve recently attended SQL Bits XV (May 2016) where I helped out as a volunteer and just wanted to share the benefits of engaging in the SQL Community or other tech communities.
A friend of mine, Rob Sewell, goes into more detail on what is involved in volunteering at SQL Bits but the wider community is also incredibly active, friendly and knowledgeable.
You can find similar SQL Server events in the year, such as SQL Relay (which tours several cities in the UK) every October, or smaller events such as SQL Saturday, which for me gives the chance to go locally (Exeter, Southampton) or further afield (Portugal, Munich) throughout the year. There are also PASS local chapters all around the world which have regular (often monthly) gatherings, such as my local SQL Southwest or my first exposure to the SQL community at SQL Cardiff. There are also Virtual Chapters for people who don't have any community near to them.
I´ve done a lot more than just improving my skills in SQL Server at these events, attending talks on data science, R, contracting, soft skills, azure and machine learning as there are always options available that focus on the world around databases and not just the databases themselves. Additionally there have been opportunites for networking, giving talks, socialising with likeminded people, getting help on particular SQL problems and bouncing ideas around on nearly any subject, technical or otherwise.
If you´re a Twitter user (which I now am with @DuncanThom) then you'll find much of the community are very active on there, keeping up to date with industry news, spreading knowledge and answering questions.
There are similar communities around other technologies, with many organised via meetup.com. My small local city of Exeter has ones based around .NET, Clojure, R, Open Data and Data Science. Getting involved has supported me in my first couple years of contracting, giving me the confidence to start giving talks, create a user group around Data Science, exposed me to the world of podcasts and made me try out new tech.
So see what's on around you locally and get involved with the communities.