Every second Tuesday of a month, there’s a T-SQL-Tuesday. This is a blogging event that everyone can participate. The idea was created by Adam Mechanic, but nowadays, it’s hosted by Steve Jones.
For this month, Rie Merritt called for advices for running a user group. I know, I’m a quite late to join this game. But since I was busy for my university just until this week, I was not able to write for the call more timely - apologies. I hope nobody minds me joining this late.
So I’ve founded an online-only Azure Data Community user group, Data TGIF, in June last year and have led it ever since. It is still fairly small and only has around 170 members so far, so it is up to you decide whether or not this group is successful.
In my opinion, an important factor for a user group is to set yourself apart from others. There are currently 140 Azure Data Tech Groups in 40 countries worldwide, so especially if your user group are online events, you’ve got some competition. Get a catchy name and a logo that is unique. My group is called Data TGIF and unlike most other groups, it does not just offer a platform for speakers to speak, but it is also a place to meet others. So it is also an networking event. I’m very happy to see that that way, that this group is able to spark talks amongst the attendees and speakers. Oftentimes, this breaks the ice for everyone. And during those talks, oftentimes new questions pop up and get asked to the speakers. Another thing this user group is set apart from others with is the format: it is 30 mins for talks and 30 mins for the networking part. That way, so I like to believe, there is a good balance in between just listening and interaction of every attendee.
I am vehemently believing that user groups are a great way to start speaking. So if anyone wants to try to speak, I am more than happy to help and if the speaker wishes, I will try to find a mentor for them. User Groups should be a speaking platform for everyone, from the freshest speakers to the most experienced speakers.
Furthermore, try to find channels you’re communicating and stick to them. For Data TGIF, I am using 3 channels: MeetUp.com, Twitter and LinkedIn. Be consistent in using them and try to get as many connections as you can. Get in touch with the speakers and provide them marketing materials so that they can do marketing themselves, too.
Last not least, try to get in touch with the community. So far, I haven’t seen anyone of the other community founders or leaders biting me. In fact, I can say that I’ve grown to be friends with some of them and with some of them, I even have plans for future events. Some other user group organizers will even help you out with growing your user group - a shoutout to Cloud Data Driven for this!
Good luck in growing your user group and of course, don’t forget the most important part in this: have fun!