Welcome!

Agile Computing Authors: XebiaLabs Blog, Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Carmen Gonzalez, Pat Romanski

Blog Feed Post

User Group DOs and DON’Ts

As someone who has been a member, presenter, officer and board member of various user groups, I've come up with some observations on what makes a great user group. I would never call myself an expert on the subject (I reserve that for @Victor_Chat), but I think this is some good advice.

DO encourage and participate in a SharePint

Yes, I'm actually listing this first. More of the connections and relationships happen here than when mingling before the group. Attendees get the opportunity to let loose and it's a great way to get to know people.  If you have questions, this is where you get them answered.  The Houston SharePoint Users Group (HSPUG) does this right. It's not uncommon to see 40+ people at one of our SharePints. We actually have sponsors for it. :)

DO delegate

Some of the smaller groups tend to have one or two people that do everything. Ask for help and you will likely get it. There are usually people willing to help out. People can help with everything from signing people in to ordering food. If you're a member and want to help out, don't be afraid to ask what you can do.

DO encourage new speakers

You don't need big name speakers to have a good user group. Encourage new speakers to present to the group. When I was at Tulsa, we encouraged new speakers at every session.  It was usually pretty effective.

DO seek out officers from diverse backgrounds

It's great to have officers from different backgrounds. Employ a healthy mix of consultants and non-consultants. Do this even if the officers work for a competitor. It shows that you aren't trying to dominate the user group with your company.

DO encourage others to meet up outside of the user group

This is something Houston is playing around with. We live in a large city and are encouraging members to get together throughout the month at a local bar or restaurant. We're still judging the success on this as I think it's yet to establish it's rhythm yet.

DO post your topics early

This sounds easy in theory but now that I have been involved with a few groups, I know it's not. Ideally, you want to line up multiple speakers months in advance. It is great if you can have these posted to the web site, include them in your communications, and even announce the next topics during each meeting.

DO engage in social media

Some groups do this better than others. Although probably less than 10% of your user group is on twitter, it's still a good way to remind users about what is going on throughout the month.

DON'T be afraid to ask questions

As a member, don't be afraid to ask questions of the presenter, the officers, or other members. Chances are there are users there that face the same challenges as you.

DON'T use vendor spotlights in place of presentations

Although it's great to support your sponsors, your users are there to learn not to be sold to. It's ok, to let a vendor spend two minutes before a presentation and say hey thanks for letting us sponsor. However, it should never be used as a replacement for finding a speaker. Your users don't like this and it will drive them away from the group. Most user groups allow the vendor to set up a table and buy beers afterwards. This is more effective for them than giving a full-blown sales presentation.

DON'T use the user group to promote your business

I attended a user group once where the self-promotion was so bad it made me sick. The first words out of your mouth shouldn't be about your company. The best officers I have seen have never even mentioned where they work once in front of the group. Your members will only tolerate this for so long before they stop coming. I've seen this nearly destroy groups before. It's ok to talk about your company afterwards over a beer. However, it's unacceptable to spend 15 minutes before the meeting talking about your company. Plus, this severely cripples sponsorship opportunities.  As someone promoting your own business, you would never allow a competitor to sponsor.  Plus, your competitors aren’t going to want to sponsor a corrupt user group anyways.  Just don’t do it.

I remember one time in Houston, where someone did a 10 minute case study on a solution they built. Some of the members felt it was a bit salesy and were about to run them out the door. In reality, I didn't think it was salesy at all. The presenters were developers not account managers. However, you always have to be careful when doing case studies because they can come off as a sales pitch if you’re not careful.

Make your sales the old-fashioned way by playing golf, buying beers, and going to expensive dinners.

 

I may have bragged a little bit about my user group, but hey, it’s pretty awesome.  Seriously, if you’re ever in town the third Wednesday of the month, you should make a point to attend. :)  Hopefully, you find some of this information helpful.  What tips do you have for user groups?  Leave a comment and let me know.

Read the original blog entry...

More Stories By Corey Roth

Corey Roth, a SharePoint Server MVP, is a consultant at Hitachi Consulting specializing in SharePoint and Office 365 for clients in the energy sector. He has more than ten years of experience delivering solutions in the energy, travel, advertising and consumer electronics verticals.

Corey specializes in delivering ECM and search solutions to clients using SharePoint. Corey has always focused on rapid adoption of new Microsoft technologies including Visual Studio 2013, Office 365, and SharePoint.

He is a member of the .NET Mafia (www.dotnetmafia.com) where he blogs about the latest technology and SharePoint. He is dedicated to the community and speaks regularly at user groups and SharePoint Saturdays.

@ThingsExpo Stories
WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web communications world. The 6th WebRTC Summit continues our tradition of delivering the latest and greatest presentations within the world of WebRTC. Topics include voice calling, video chat, P2P file sharing, and use cases that have already leveraged the power and convenience of WebRTC.
In his General Session at 16th Cloud Expo, David Shacochis, host of The Hybrid IT Files podcast and Vice President at CenturyLink, investigated three key trends of the “gigabit economy" though the story of a Fortune 500 communications company in transformation. Narrating how multi-modal hybrid IT, service automation, and agile delivery all intersect, he will cover the role of storytelling and empathy in achieving strategic alignment between the enterprise and its information technology.
"Matrix is an ambitious open standard and implementation that's set up to break down the fragmentation problems that exist in IP messaging and VoIP communication," explained John Woolf, Technical Evangelist at Matrix, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at @ThingsExpo, held Nov 4–6, 2014, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Buzzword alert: Microservices and IoT at a DevOps conference? What could possibly go wrong? In this Power Panel at DevOps Summit, moderated by Jason Bloomberg, the leading expert on architecting agility for the enterprise and president of Intellyx, panelists peeled away the buzz and discuss the important architectural principles behind implementing IoT solutions for the enterprise. As remote IoT devices and sensors become increasingly intelligent, they become part of our distributed cloud enviro...
WebRTC sits at the intersection between VoIP and the Web. As such, it poses some interesting challenges for those developing services on top of it, but also for those who need to test and monitor these services. In his session at WebRTC Summit, Tsahi Levent-Levi, co-founder of testRTC, reviewed the various challenges posed by WebRTC when it comes to testing and monitoring and on ways to overcome them.
"A lot of times people will come to us and have a very diverse set of requirements or very customized need and we'll help them to implement it in a fashion that you can't just buy off of the shelf," explained Nick Rose, CTO of Enzu, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 18th Cloud Expo, held June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY.
DevOps is being widely accepted (if not fully adopted) as essential in enterprise IT. But as Enterprise DevOps gains maturity, expands scope, and increases velocity, the need for data-driven decisions across teams becomes more acute. DevOps teams in any modern business must wrangle the ‘digital exhaust’ from the delivery toolchain, "pervasive" and "cognitive" computing, APIs and services, mobile devices and applications, the Internet of Things, and now even blockchain. In this power panel at @...
WebRTC services have already permeated corporate communications in the form of videoconferencing solutions. However, WebRTC has the potential of going beyond and catalyzing a new class of services providing more than calls with capabilities such as mass-scale real-time media broadcasting, enriched and augmented video, person-to-machine and machine-to-machine communications. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Luis Lopez, CEO of Kurento, introduced the technologies required for implementing these idea...
Every successful software product evolves from an idea to an enterprise system. Notably, the same way is passed by the product owner's company. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Oleg Lola, CEO of MobiDev, will provide a generalized overview of the evolution of a software product, the product owner, the needs that arise at various stages of this process, and the value brought by a software development partner to the product owner as a response to these needs.
The WebRTC Summit New York, to be held June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, announces that its Call for Papers is now open. Topics include all aspects of improving IT delivery by eliminating waste through automated business models leveraging cloud technologies. WebRTC Summit is co-located with 20th International Cloud Expo and @ThingsExpo. WebRTC is the future of browser-to-browser communications, and continues to make inroads into the traditional, difficult, plug-in web co...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 6-8, 2017 at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, is co-located with the 20th International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @ThingsExpo New York Call for Papers is now open.
Who are you? How do you introduce yourself? Do you use a name, or do you greet a friend by the last four digits of his social security number? Assuming you don’t, why are we content to associate our identity with 10 random digits assigned by our phone company? Identity is an issue that affects everyone, but as individuals we don’t spend a lot of time thinking about it. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Ben Klang, Founder & President of Mojo Lingo, discussed the impact of technology on identity. Sho...
Technology vendors and analysts are eager to paint a rosy picture of how wonderful IoT is and why your deployment will be great with the use of their products and services. While it is easy to showcase successful IoT solutions, identifying IoT systems that missed the mark or failed can often provide more in the way of key lessons learned. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Peter Vanderminden, Principal Industry Analyst for IoT & Digital Supply Chain to Flatiron Strategies, will focus on how IoT depl...
Data is an unusual currency; it is not restricted by the same transactional limitations as money or people. In fact, the more that you leverage your data across multiple business use cases, the more valuable it becomes to the organization. And the same can be said about the organization’s analytics. In his session at 19th Cloud Expo, Bill Schmarzo, CTO for the Big Data Practice at Dell EMC, introduced a methodology for capturing, enriching and sharing data (and analytics) across the organization...
With all the incredible momentum behind the Internet of Things (IoT) industry, it is easy to forget that not a single CEO wakes up and wonders if “my IoT is broken.” What they wonder is if they are making the right decisions to do all they can to increase revenue, decrease costs, and improve customer experience – effectively the same challenges they have always had in growing their business. The exciting thing about the IoT industry is now these decisions can be better, faster, and smarter. Now ...
WebRTC is about the data channel as much as about video and audio conferencing. However, basically all commercial WebRTC applications have been built with a focus on audio and video. The handling of “data” has been limited to text chat and file download – all other data sharing seems to end with screensharing. What is holding back a more intensive use of peer-to-peer data? In her session at @ThingsExpo, Dr Silvia Pfeiffer, WebRTC Applications Team Lead at National ICT Australia, looked at differ...
The cloud market growth today is largely in public clouds. While there is a lot of spend in IT departments in virtualization, these aren’t yet translating into a true “cloud” experience within the enterprise. What is stopping the growth of the “private cloud” market? In his general session at 18th Cloud Expo, Nara Rajagopalan, CEO of Accelerite, explored the challenges in deploying, managing, and getting adoption for a private cloud within an enterprise. What are the key differences between wh...
"ReadyTalk is an audio and web video conferencing provider. We've really come to embrace WebRTC as the platform for our future of technology," explained Dan Cunningham, CTO of ReadyTalk, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at WebRTC Summit at 19th Cloud Expo, held November 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
In 2014, Amazon announced a new form of compute called Lambda. We didn't know it at the time, but this represented a fundamental shift in what we expect from cloud computing. Now, all of the major cloud computing vendors want to take part in this disruptive technology. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, John Jelinek IV, a web developer at Linux Academy, will discuss why major players like AWS, Microsoft Azure, IBM Bluemix, and Google Cloud Platform are all trying to sidestep VMs and containers...
The many IoT deployments around the world are busy integrating smart devices and sensors into their enterprise IT infrastructures. Yet all of this technology – and there are an amazing number of choices – is of no use without the software to gather, communicate, and analyze the new data flows. Without software, there is no IT. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, Dave McCarthy, Director of Products at Bsquare Corporation; Alan Williamson, Principal ...