January 17th, 2008 Theresa Shafer
If your New Years Resolution is to speak more, you might be wonder where to go. One type of group that is always looking for speakers are local user groups. User groups offer an informal network and forum for the exchange of ideas, tips, and gotchas. With user groups I also include professional group because the members usually are faced with the same set of problems and challenges and are willing to share problems and solutions. They can be a source of direct leads and referrals — from folks who have interacted with you and substantiate your reliability and character — once you have established yourself as a solid member not just a tourist.
Besides speaking, there are many other ways you can contribute. Here are some suggestions. Think about what can you offer?
- Training Workshop
- Write Articles for Newsletter
- Be a Speaker
- Plan Something Fun
- Contribute to Group Forums, Bulletin Boards or Discussion Groups
- Sponsorships & Prizes
It’s OK to visit a group meeting once or twice to see if it’s the right group, but you should make a personal commitment to regularly attend for a year or so if you want to join the group. Trust is built over time and finding small ways to meaningfully contribute will improve your legitimate reputation in the community.
Provided you can be patient, and abide by the community standards and unwritten rules, user groups offer you opportunities for good face to face discussions (often supplemented by an on-line forum or e-mail reflector) and speaking.