A few months ago, my coworker Chris Bowen up in Boston participated in an all-up user group leadership summit. Microsoft was both a sponsor, as well as the event host. O’Reilly media was a sponsor as well.
The event was known as the Northeast User Group Leader Summit (NEULGS) and drew participation from many groups. Most were not even Microsoft focused! The leaders came together to share tips and ask questions on many issues facing technology groups regardless of the actual technology the group is focused on. Everyone shares similar challenges like finding locations, getting speakers, seeking out sponsorship, growing membership, hosting special events, etc.
Given the vibrant and diverse user group community in the Southeast, particularly around Atlanta, I’m hoping to duplicate the success of that event with a Southeast User Group Leader Summit. Hopefully this would be the seeds of an ongoing “meta” collaboration for the leaders of technical/developer user groups. Here is what I’ve put together so far.
- I’m seeking a few enterprising individuals in the Atlanta area community to take on responsibility for this. As it’s a “non-partisan” summit, I think it’s best for me to not actually organize it myself (although I’ll participate as a community evangelist). Please let me know through comments, email, or twitter (@glengordon) if you are interested.
- We’d need a wiki or some other landing pages for the organizers as well as a way for the user group leaders to sign up to attend. Maybe a facebook group? Not everyone has facebook though.
- This would be a barcamp style event, where the participants set the agenda.
- I would hope that we’d attract leaders from groups in Birmingham, Huntsville, Montgomery, Greenville SC, Augusta, Macon, and maybe even Chattanooga and Knoxville.
- I suggest targeting September, and going with a Saturday. That way we’ll avoid work conflicts, and if people are traveling from several hours away it might make it easier.
- Microsoft is willing to host the summit in our offices in Alpharetta. That’s only because the space is free since I’d be acting a host for the event. There would be no Microsoft specific agenda in mind. There are several conference rooms that the attendees to the summit can utilize. If the organizers would rather hold the event at someplace like ATDC, that’s cool too.
- I’ve already heard from O’Reilly that they’d like to help as well. If there are any other sponsors/advisors, let’s get them involved.
- I’d suggest following the NEULGS practice of inviting 2 members from each group.
In addition to the Microsoft groups locally and nearby Atlanta, I hope the folks I know who run the PHP group, Web Designers group, the Adobe groups, and others will join in. Hopefully you’ll jump in with your group as well!