Many people are involved in SharePoint User Groups around the world (attendees, presenters, organisers). If you had to explain what a SPUG was to someone else e.g.:
Thanks in advance
Let me preface my comments with the fact that I'm not a member of a SharePoint user group per se. I think that there are a few in the Boston area, but I've never really looked into them.
To me, the larger user group I'm a part of (if you're reading this, then you're probably a part of it, too) has the most value. There's far more variety talking to people across the globe, and therefore range of experience, than I think I might get just locally. I also find the asynchronous nature of the online community more fitting with my style. Nick and I are conversing about this topic with half the globe separating us, when we choose to chat.
What I look for is the best minds for a given topic who I can zing questions to. I'd like to think that I'm there for them when it comes to something I know about, too. The sort of "whose turn is it to speak about something, no come on, it's your turn" nature of many of the local user groups I'm been a member of in the past never really worked for me.
Definition - A group of people who have interest in SharePoint. Most user groups are organized around locations.
Benefits - Collaborate and share information, successes, failures surrounding SharePoint systems and projects. Get exposure to content and features you normally do not get a chance to see or work with. It is also a great networking opportunity.
Should do - Provide an open, collaborative environment where people are comfortable attending and sharing.
Should NOT do - It is not a sales presentation and should not be primarily a marketing tool for a vendor or consulting company.
I'm a member and board member (leader) for my local user group (Triangle SP UG - http://www.trispug.com) and have seen some great things come from the group involvement. I've seen people of ALL skill levels and background able to come together and learn from each other. I've also seen speakers go to great lengths to volunteer their time to share their expertise.
"How would you define a user group?"
You meet people who are interested in / working on the same topic. I cannot talk with my friends about too technical topics, so sometimes it is nice to share frustration and success with people who know that topic.
"What would you say are the benefits of a user group?"
"What doesn't or shouldn't a user group do?"
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