T-SQL Tuesday #148 – Building Community

This month, Rie Merritt is asking us to share advice about User Groups. I had the honor of running the Chicago Suburban User Group for over 6 years.

Build Community

My advice is something I stumbled upon by complete accident. Prior to our first meeting, we sent out a SurveyMonkey asking attendees what they wanted to get out of these meetings. Networking was a top answer. And on the drive over to our first meeting, I came up with an idea.

When we kicked off, I explained the survey results wanting networking, so I simply asked everyone to introduce themselves to whomever they were seated by. I said just share your name, your role, and what you do. I expected this to last maybe 2-3 minutes tops. Instead it transformed into 15-20 minutes of chatter!

As our group evolved, we offered food but had to locate to a common area to eat (food wasn’t allowed in our classroom). So I’d repeat the “introduce yourself” bit, remind people that this is their time to chat, etc. I always made the joke that “if you’re an introvert, you’re in luck… almost all of us in the room are!” And I said that if you cannot think of anything to talk about, just vent about something you’ve been struggling with at work lately – we ALL have work headaches and challenges.

And it worked. It worked really… really… well! I’m very proud of the community that we built with the Chicago Suburban User Group.