A question came up on the myITForum mailing list about starting a User group. I have posted my my reply only so that it does not get lost and when I have time I will expand on each major point as to some of the benefits and downside to each. If you have any questions, I encourage you to send me an email or to post a message on myITforum mailing list, OWSUG.ca site or SMSug.ca site.
Keep in mind this was written for System Center crowd but most, if not all applies to other products such as: SBS, Exchange, SCE :-) , SQL, etc...
Don’t forget there are a few UG / SIG leaders on the list have can give you some insight on starting/running a UG /SIG.
As a User Group leader, one thing that I will always suggest is to create a Special interest group under a bigger group, this has many advantages. First off it allows you to send about broadcast emails to their group list thereby allowing for a bigger audience right for the get go, plus it has a lot less work for the executive board.
As for you first presentation.
- Find a presenter
o Local MVP
o Regional MVPs
o Local MS IT Evangelist
o Local TAMs
o Local Trainers
o Vendors (but be careful as you don’t want a sale presentation)
o Product team
- Pick a date
o Midweek, I find work best (Tuesday – Thursday)
- Pick a time
o Daytime: remember that day time presentation may give you a bigger audience, plus some people will be able to convince their boss for time off for the event. Plus it can be easier to find a boardroom to use, like the local MS office.
o Evening: you will get more Consultants and local presenters like this time because it does not interfere with their “day job”
- Pick a venue:
o Free parking & close to buses routes help drive attendance
- Find a sponsor for food and door prizes
o MS options
§ Product Team
§ Local IT Evangelist
o CPLS’ (Training Centers)
§ SCCM Expert
o Event Drop of rates
§ I go with a 35% drop of rate for most events
§ However some event like this one, I expect only at 10-20% drop of rate.
- Get a web presents, this help for other to find your group (Ron tell me that he has something in the works that might be cool, so Bug him to give you a preview! J , Sorry Ron)
o Make sure that Live and Google have searched your site
- Use Clicktoattend.com for registration for the event.
- Have business card printed with UG/SIG details, give these out to everyone. Give extras to Executive members to hand out
- Try for quarterly meetings
- Make sure to announce your events to:
o All the UG /SIG executive TAMs
o To other UGs in the area.
- Associate with other UGs
o Locally (exchange, widows, Server, Storage, etc)
o Asked to have you UG added to a list like this one http://owsug.ca/content/usergroups.aspx on every other group that you know of. This helps with Google/Live ranking
- Blog you events
- Get a Domain name!
- Create an Executive committee
- Setup roles for each executive
o Maybe have business card printed for each executive
o Give the executive an email address to use
o President, VP, Marketing, Web master, etc.
- Talk to local CPLS’ about your UG/SIG they can help direct new users to your UG
- Talk to the local College, so that their students know about US/SIG
- Consider NOT calling you group a User Group, use IT Professional group/association instead.