Last year at the Midwest Management Summit 2014 one of my overall favorite and most useful sessions to attend was the Get MMS Right at Home every month! session (pptx). It was basically a ‘how to create your own user group’ session. As a proud member of LouPOSH and now co-founder of LouSMUG, I love user groups! I find they are one of the best ways to give back to the community and get to know your peers.
I took about a page of notes in this session and have implemented a lot of the suggestions in the local user groups I am a member of. These notes have been buried in my notebook since November, and after a few longstanding requests I am posting them for all to share.
- You can get a free Office 365 website!
- Twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn/G+, any and all social networking
- Related community sites (myITforum.com, PowerShell.org, etc)
- Talk to your Microsoft Sales guy, he will spread the word too
- Doesn’t have to be IT, do other topics that may still benefit IT Pros
- Being a road warrior
- Project management
- Study group (certs, training, labs, etc)
- Attend Microsoft events, You can get a free table!
- Steam big events such as System Center Universe!
- Do a big event with other local groups in the region (SQL Saturday, etc)
- Speaker tours with other groups in the region.
- Speakers love when they dont have to drive/fly all over, much easier to hit a few user groups in a local area
Mix up the schedule
Not everyone has the same schedule, pick a different day each month or even different times of day. Maybe a weekend here or there.
- During the day/Lunch sessions
- Nights, maybe on the way home from work
- Different days of week
- They can help with website, logistics, organizing, etc
- They can put it on their resume! Recognition!
- Pres./Vice Pres. goes to board instead of retiring, may still consult if needed
- More people to help out the better
- Treasurer to do financials
Places to meet
- Local vendors, any related industry
- Microsoft Training Centers
- Anywhere that will take you!
Do a newsletter or email distro!
A lot of IT Pros want the information to come to them, have them subscribe to a newsletter where you can keep them up to date on the latest.
Another option is an email list at myITforum, a great way for all members to share information in a quick email.
Use a free event organizer
This one was agreed upon across the entire room, bring beer, it will draw a crowd.
Small attendance? Meet at a local bar/pub!
The meetings don’t always have to be formal presentations. If you have just a handful of folks come, go down to your local bar/pub and have a few drinks. It’s all about networking and socializing with your peers.
JUST DO IT!
The biggest thing that came out of the discussion was to ‘Just do it!’. User groups and small communities are people-driven, if no one steps up and makes it happen, then it won’t happen.
What other tips do you have?