Is Your User Group Still Relevant?

It’s an important question – one that user groups around the world should constantly ask themselves. As a former board member of the Puget Sound SharePoint User Group (PSSPUG, now called O365 Seattle) and now part of the Utah SPUG, and also having running entrepreneur and collaboration user groups for years as part of the now-defunct eBIG.org in the San Francisco Bay Area (which was formed with fellow members of SDForum, now SVForum), I’ve been formally participating in these kinds of community activities for more than 20 years (which makes me suddenly feel really old). And throughout that experience, I have come to recognize that user groups that do not change with the times, the technologies, and the evolving needs of their constituencies will ultimately fail. If you are an organizer or passionate member of a local user group, a SharePoint Saturday or SQL Saturday event, or any other regularly occurring community activity – then this month’s CollabTalk tweetjam is for you!

CollabTalk tweetjam Jan 2017Join us on Tuesday, January 31st at 9am PST for our 5th anniversary #CollabTalk tweetJam to discuss the “Evolution of the User Group” with members of user groups from around the world, and especially within the SharePoint and Office 365 ecosystem. You can join us via Twitter, or use our dedicated tweetjam site at http://twubs.com/CollabTalk

As with all of the CollabTalk tweetjams, the questions are meant to be broad or ambiguous, allowing participants to add depth to the conversation based on their unique experiences. You can talk about high-level marketing and messaging or go deep into specific technology; you can focus on the end user, admin, or developer experiences; you can even represent your own company or personal brand. We want different viewpoints.

If you’ve never participated in one of these tweetjams, they can be a lot of fun – and for those like me who do a lot of blogging, they are also a great source of material for future posts. Within each hour-long session using the Twitter UI of your choice (Twitter.com, Hootsuite, Tweetdeck, Twubs, whatever) we will go through a series of questions over the course of the hour, responding to Q1, Q2, Q3 and so forth with A1, A2, A3 and always including the #CollabTalk hashtag with your answers. Feel free to reply as often (or as little) as you’d like, ask your own follow up questions, share relevant links, retweet others, and engage with the audience.

The questions will include:

  1. Have the needs of your user group community changed? If so, how?
  2. What does your user group get right?
  3. What does your user group get wrong?
  4. What should your user group do to get more members / better engagement?
  5. What is your preferred format for user groups, and why?
  6. What is the role of the user group board, or its leaders?
  7. Besides “I’m busy” what is keeping you from getting more involved in your user group?

Within the one hour tweetjam, there will be side-questions, follow-up questions, and occasional silliness. The format can be thought-provoking as well as fun. These tweetjams usually includes a great lineup of Microsoft MVPs and MCMs, and other community experts across SharePoint, Office 365, Yammer, Exchange, Azure, Skype, Project and more. This month's panel of confirmed participants includes:

  • Mark Jones (@markqjones), founder of Collab365.community and Collaboris
  • Martina Grom (@magrom), co-founder of atwork.at, Office 365 MVP
  • Fabian Williams (@fabianwilliams), SharePoint MVP and all-around ninja at K2 
  • John White (@diverdown1964), SharePoint MVP and cto at UnlimitedViz Inc.
  • Wictor Wilen (@wictor), SharePoint MCA, MCSM, MCM, and MVP, and Nordic digital workplace lead at Avanade
  • Noah Sparks (@noahsparks), community igniter and strategy manager at Carpool Digital
  • J. Dan Attis (@jdattis), SharePoint MVP and sr. solution architect at B&R Business Solutions
  • Ryan Schouten (@ShrPntKnight) senior SharePoint architect and evangelist at ZAACT
  • Brian Culver (@SPbrianculver), SharePoint MCM and founder, president of Expert Point Solution
  • Bob German (@bob1german), principal architect at BlueMetal Architects
  • Eric Riz (@rizinsights), SharePoint MVP and ceo of Empty Cubicle
  • Sebastien Levert (@sebastienlevert), Office365 MVP and specialist in Azure, SharePoint, and O365
  • Erica Toelle (@ericatoelle), portals and content manager at Valorem Consulting
  • Andrew Connell (@andrewconnell), SharePoint MVP, and founder, instructor, male model at Voitanos LLC
  • Nikkia Carter (@carterMcGServ), ceo at CMW LLC and tech speaker
  • Jeff Willinger (@jwillie), Office 365 MVP and director of collaboration and social business at Rightpoint
  • Vlad Catrinescu (@vladcatrinescu),SharePoint and Office 365 MVP, speaker, and author
  • Dean Swann (@sdeanswann), social collaborator, growth hacker and product manager for UnlimitedViz
  • Heather Newman (@heddanewman), co-founder and cmo of ContentPanda
  • Rob Windsor (@robwindsor), .NET/SharePoint developer and MVP, trainer, and author
  • Tracy Van der Schyff (@tracyvds), Office Servers and Services MVP and manager at GT Academy / GTconsult
  • Scot Hillier (@scothillier), SharePoint MVP and independent consultant
  • Gokan Ozcifci (@gokanozcifci), SharePoint MVP and IT infrastructure consultant at Neoxy
  • Stacy Deere-Strole (@sldeere), SharePoint MVP and owner of Focal Point Solutions
  • Hans Brender (@hansbrender), SharePoint MVP and solution architect at BitTitan
  • Karuana Gatimu (@karuana), engineering manager for Microsoft Teams
  • Kipp Sorenson (@kbes), SharePoint consultant at Soren Innovations
  • Fernando Melo (@frmelo21), SharePoint architect and evangelist at Helios Cooperative
  • Matt Moalem (@mmoalem), vp of corporate development at Beezy
  • Jeff Shuey (@jshuey), founder and managing director at NuNalu, president of IAMCP Seattle
  • Marc Anderson (@sympmarc), SharePoint MVP and co-founder, president of Sympraxis Consulting
  • Brian Alderman (@brianalderman), SharePoint MVP, founder and ceo of MicroTechPoint
  • Eric Shupps (@eshupps), SharePoint MVP, evangelist, and president of BinaryWave
  • Kelvin Hoyle (@kelvin_hoyle), VanSPUG president, SPS Vancouver board member, systems specialist at WorkSafeBC
  • Naomi Moneypenny (@nmoneypenny), Office365 MVP and cto at ManyWorlds
  • Marlee Long (@cardiolog), marketing manager at Intlock
  • Eric Overfield (@ericoverfield), Office Servers and Services MVP, founder of PixelMill
  • Kanwal Khipple (@kkhipple), Office 365 MVP and founder of 2toLead
  • Maarten Eekels (@maarteneekels), Office 365 MVP and cto at Portiva
  • Rene Modery (@modery), Office 365 MVP, collaboration and SharePoint applications manager
  • Seb Matthews (@sebmatthews), consultant, entrepreneur, evangelist, freemason, world traveler
  • Symon Garfield (@symon_garfield), digital strategy advisor at Microsoft
  • Benjamin Niaulin (@bniaulin), Office 365 MVP and evangelist at ShareGate
  • Tamara Bredemus (@tamarabred), director of collaborative services at City of Minneapolis
  • Barry Jinks (@BJinks), founder and ceo at Colligo
  • Bo Woronowicz (@boworonowicz), independent consult, president of Office 365 Seattle
  • Dom Nicastro (@DomNicastro), staff reporter at CMSWir
  • Drew Madelung (@dmadelung), SharePoint and Office 365 MVP and architect at Concurrency Inc.
  • Ron Fetters (@ronfetters), solutions architect at Sovereign SP
  • Eli Robillard (@erobillard), SharePoint MVP, musician, fly-fisher, collaboration technology guy
  • Geoff Evelyn (@GeoffEVE), SharePoint MVP and enterprise solutions architect at Dentsu Aegis Network Limited
  • Jennifer Mason (@jennifermason), SharePoint MVP and director of innovation & strategic solutions at Planet Technologies
  • Jason Himmelstein (@sharepointlhorn), SharePoint MVP and Office 365 advisory services manager at Rackspace
  • Liam Cleary (@helloitsliam), SharePoint MVP and solution architect at Protiviti
  • Mark Rackley (@mrackley), Office 365 MVP, sharePoint Hillbilly, Partner at PAIT Group
  • Michal Pisarek (@michalpisarek), SharePoint MVP and founder of Bonzai Intranet
  • Melinda Morales (@trulymelinda), solution consultant at 3Sharp
  • Oliver Wirkus (@OWirkus), Office 365 MVP and sr. SharePoint consultant at Softlanding
  • Patrick Curran (@pcfromdc), director, federal group at Planet Technologies
  • Richard Harbridge (@rharbridge), Office Server and Services MVP, cto of 2toLead
  • Rick Garcia (@SilentRick), SharePoint project manager at United Airlines
  • Shyam Oza (@ShyamOza), senior product manager at AvePoint
  • Tom Resing (@resing), senior content developer, modern assistance and support experience at Microsoft
  • Warren Marks (@marksWazza), chief sales office at GTconsult
  • and your host, Christian Buckley (@buckleyplanet), Office Server and Services MVP, CollabTalk founder, holder of a +7 vorpal sword, and chief evangelist for Beezy

Should be a fantastic discussion, and I am really looking forward to hearing best practices from use groups around the world!

Christian Buckley

Christian is a Microsoft Regional Director and Office Apps & Services MVP, the Founder & CEO of CollabTalk LLC, an independent research and technical marketing services firm based in Salt Lake City, Utah, and fractional-CMO for revealit.io, tyGraph, and Extranet User Manager.