If you came to me and said that you were thinking about starting a User Group I’d ask you one question: Why?
The reasons for wanting to start a User Group vary. Perhaps the city/town that you live in doesn’t currently have a group. Maybe there are groups but they don’t focus on the technologies that you’re interested in. Because there already was a .NET User Group in our city, our reasons were slightly different than most. A number of us attended the existing group’s meetings religiously but were disappointed with it’s inability to capture and drive the local .NET developer community.
Equally as religious as our attendance at the meetings was our attendance at the local pub post meeting. These informal meetings became the incubator for Edmug. A great deal of our inspiration came from two things that were obvious to us early on in this incubation period.
First, we felt good about the fact that there were about eight people consistently showing up to user group meetings that provided no content. We had also noticed that, although meeting attendance was low, events that had known speakers or content would draw five times the attendees. From this we knew that there was a community that had significant attention span and a thirst for content.
The second thing that we noticed was that the group of us that were sitting around the pub table were willing to make this happen. Without exception we wanted to pass our excitement for our local community and for the industry in general. There was no discussion of meeting the big name speakers, hoarding or even receiving of swag, or the possibility of personal prestige.
Discussions around the reasons for starting our group were not 100% innocent. One thing was very apparent. Each of us selfishly wanted to be in attendance for the best content that could possibly be brought to Edmonton. Of all things that any group needs and perhaps needs a greed for it is content. I’ll cover this in a future post entitled Content, Content, Content.
The inspiration behind the formation of our user group was community and content. These two things are the cornerstones of a great group. Not only do they need to be strong roots for the group, but they also need to be nurtured and attended to once the group has been established. Again, another item for a discussion in a future post. Next time, Running with the Right Crowd; A discussion about the people running a user group.