When I talk to other SQL Server professionals, I’m often surprised at how many do not have any involvement in their local SQL Server user group. As best I can tell, the problem is not limited to SQL Server types – many technical pros do not even know that there are user groups in their area, much less participate in any of them.
Local user groups are incredible and underutilized resources for technical professionals. Most active user groups meet monthly, generally in the evenings or on weekends, and most are free. These groups are not closed social groups as some may perceive, but are quite accepting of newcomers. In all but the largest user groups, everything is run by volunteers, so there are opportunities to get your hands dirty if you feel led to give back to the community. These groups offer a venue to share ideas, socialize with fellow techies, and some informal peer technical assistance. If you are looking to improve your presentation skills, most groups are open to new speakers at group meetings.
If you’re not already involved, I encourage you to check out one or more local user groups. I’ll take the opportunity to plug my local group, the North Texas SQL Server User Group, which meets at the Microsoft headquarters in Irving on the 3rd Thursday of each month. The PASS website also has a domestic and international list of recognized chapters of SQL Server users.