T-SQL Tuesday #148: Advice on running a user group -Consistency
March 9, 2022
I thank Rie Merritt (Blog|Twitter) for hosting T-SQL Tuesday #148. The topic for this month is Advice on running a user group. I also want to acknowledge Adam Machanic’s vision behind this project. I learned a lot from some of the T-SQL Tuesdays and participated in a few. Thank you, Steve Jones (Blog|Twitter), for coordinating this program. If you are interested to see previous topics, visit here.
Rie gave us an open slate to pick one or two things and go deep on what works for us while running a user group. I am privileged to help run user groups that meet in person (not during the pandemic) and another group that always meets virtually. As Rie mentioned, we can write a novel about every aspect of running a user group, but the goal is to focus on one or two things and go deep.
I decided to talk about consistency. In my view, there is only one reason to run a user group. Benefit members—no other agenda. Being consistent in running a user group helps me fulfill that plan. People are busy with not much spare time for attending training not mandated by their employer. Organizers, volunteers, speakers, attendees, everyone has to find time to do their part in a user group. Keeping everything consistent helps everyone organize, speak, or attend.
I will provide a list of things that I strive to be consistent with. On a few items, I will expand a line or two. Does that mean we are not open to change? Absolutely no. I suggest organizers continuously look for improvement, ask for feedback from the members, and adapt.
- Metting date/time: Do not change this unless you are absoulutely compelled. One of the primary reason I see is speaker unavailabilty. Confirm your speakers well in advance, preferably you are always booked for next six months. Other reason is another large event happening on the same day. I prefer to cancel meetings in those case. For example: PASS Summit, Thanksgiving week. I find cancelling is much preferable than members regretting about not being able to attend a meeting.
- Communication: I am adding what I do for the virtual group which meets twice a month. Second and fourth Wednesday. I am not suggesting anyone to follow this. You will need to find out what works for your group and be consistent.
- When do you publish your next event?
- Since we meet twice a month, I only publish the next meeting once the previous meeting is over. Meaning thursday after wednesday’s meeting.
- When do you send email to the group about meeting (same email format) and how many email per meeting?
- Two emails per meeting. Since everyone gets an email once I publish the meeting, I only send another one 2 day before the meeting (Monday).
- How many time you tweet (be consistent in your tweet language)?
- Five tweets per meeting. ten days, seven days, five days (Friday with a weekend theme), two days (Monday with a great weekend theme), T-three hours.
- When do you send reminder to the speakers?
- For now we are doing it two days (Monday) before the event. I might add another reminder seven days before the meeting.
- When does the host introduce to the speaker?
- Two days (Monday) before the event.
- When do you send thank you email to the speaker with attendee numbers?
- As soon as possible after the event.
- When do you publish your next event?
- Be consistent in your intro slides. Few examples
- What other speakers you have lined for next threee months?
- What other large events happening across the globe?
- Where can attendees download todays materials?
- How do attendees send you feedback?
- How do attendees contact you, if someone wants to speak?
- What other local groups you promote?
- If you are asking about job availability and anyone searching for jobs!
- When can members expect to have access to recording/slide/demo code?
- Getting feedback from members: needs to be a continuous process. Every meeting ask them what kind of topic they want to listen to. Is anyone among the members willing to speak in future events.
Request to readers: If you want to know the details (how we do it in our user group), don’t hesitate to contact me, and I will be more than happy to help. I am part of two of the largest user groups in the country: one in-person and one virtual.