Last night we had one of bi-monthly meetings of oPASS (Orlando SQL Servers User Group) and we had a pretty good time, ranging from some nice raffle prizes to a good presenation on XML to our now standard puzzle event. There's nothing quite like a puzzle in any form to engage most of us in this business. For this meeting I just made up a puzzle loosely based on a real life problem - Steve has been running a raffle for the Katie fund and will need to pick some random prize winners. Steve may post the puzzle or link on SSC, but if you want to look now, just visit http://www.opass.org/content/showcontent.aspx?contentid=270. You can also check out the enthralling minutes of the meeting at http://www.opass.org/content/showcontent.aspx?contentid=271.
I was discussing the event afterward with a friend that was at the meeting and he said many of his coworkers didn't attend user groups because they were primarily for beginners, recruiters, and those out of work. There's some truth to that and why shouldn't there be? But I think it's a short sighted view to think that it has to be limited to that. My challenge guiding the Orlando group is to make it more than just an hours worth of free training; we try to get people to know each other, we introduce new members, we talk shop, we do a puzzle, and we let recruiters attend as long as they play by our rules!
The stereotype of us geeks is that we're introverts that just want to code and play the Xbox and while that's obviously an overly broad (if sometimes accurate!) stereotype, we also like talking and learning about our profession with our peers and if the group has the right magic, it becomes fun because it combines our need to socialize with our love of career. It does come back to some magic though; can the group hit the critical mass that just makes it work? I believe that groups that rely solely on technical content don't succeed in the long run because they only bring in people for meeting where the content interests them, where as more dynamic groups bring the same people back time after time because they have fun and get value.
More posts on user groups to come!
I'm Andy Warren, currently a SQL Server trainer with End to End Training. Over the past few years I've been a developer, DBA, and IT Director. I was one of the original founders of SQLServerCentral.com and helped grow that community from zero to about 300k members before deciding to move on to other ventures.