Starting a New Microsoft User Group or Community – Guidelines and Links

Few days back a friend of mind asked me about how I was able to create the Riyadh SharePoint User Group.  So my answer was not simple.  Creating User Group or technical groups is not easy step.  It requires lot of time and resources to find people who are interested in working with you as volunteers and successfully creating a trust in your group members minds.  But once everything is up and running the result is great.  So while answering the question I was able to note down the things and resources to get help from.  It is given below.

  • Name the User Group and define your scope, objectives and target audience.
  • Get Volunteer/Community Geeks on board – You need to define a Board build a relationship between the volunteers who are interested to be part of such a group and designate positions and responsibilities.
  • Distribute Roles according to Skills and availability
  • Create Check Lists of Tasks
  • Design Group Logo and Moto
  • Try to find a Local Microsoft Community Lead or MVP to guide you and present you some contacts.
  • Do board meeting in the early weeks to discuss user group topics and vision for 6 months at least.
  • Create a Facebook/Online Group Site and publish your Group with basic introduction to get peoples interest and on-board.
  • Start online discussions and sharing information e.g. videos, blogs, links etc. using YouTube or your personal blog sites.
  • Register your user group to INETA, GITCA and UGSS (Links Given Below), SQL Pass, ISPA or any other type of organization related to your UG.
  • http://twitter.com/ineta

    http://mea.ineta.org/

    http://itpro.community.officelive.com/default.aspx – formerly Culminus – now GITCA (Global IT Community Association)

    http://www.usergroupsupportservices.com/

    International SharePoint Professionals Association

    http://www.sqlpass.org/

    • UGSS provides around a good amount as financial support and link to lot of community events including community members site which helps to user groups to do offline events. 
    • This will also provide you’re a free SharePoint Based Web Site as your website placeholder on the internet to upload and manage group information other than Facebook
    • Create a Signup page on this site to get people register for the event.
  • Try to arrange some sponsors for your community e.g. Top IT Companies or top IT companies or contact Local Microsoft Office to arrange giveaways and MS Marketing/Reading Material.
  • Prepare for Offline event or user group meeting.  Define period of meetings like monthly or bi-monthly. 
  • Create account at www.eventbrite.com to manage your Event invitations and events (e.g. http://rcsoctober.eventbrite.com).
  • Take pictures during the board meetings and events and publish the agenda and outcome of the meeting on the group website.
  • Create a YouTube Channel to upload video, trainings and interviews.  SharePoint Hosting is very expensive to upload this stuff.  User Facebook Group pictures to upload pictures.
  • Try to contact Local MS Developer Evangelist to get Official MS Support for taking your UG to next level.
  • Link your groups with publishing groups like SAMS, ORiely (sorry if misspelled), etc to get free books for your community and discounts for your members.
  • Once your user group has done something send some information to MicrosoftFeed (Facebook Group).  The reach of this group is deep inside Microsoft)
  • This all looks like a long list of things but as I told you earlier UG creation is a long process.  What I have described above is what I have leant myself but If you think that we should add more thing please do let me know or post as comment.  I am sure this will add more value.

    One last thing this procedure applies anywhere in the world :).

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