My Experience Starting a User Group

Starting a User GroupI’ve always thought about starting a user group but after toying with the idea for years, I finally decided to do it.  So a few months back I decide to start WENetDevelopers a .NET Developer Group in for my surrounding area of Windsor & Essex County in Ontario, Canada.

Experience so far…

A friend of mine, Shawn Rakowski, asked me to put a blog post together about the experience of starting a user group as he was thinking of doing the same in his area.  I figured It was probably a good idea to document my experience along the way.

I do think that the geographical area does play into the challenges of starting a user group.  I don’t think that just because I’ve noticed certain challenges means you would in your area.

The Good

Before I created my meetup page and decided to fully commit, I reached out to a handful of friends and acquaintances that I knew in the area that were involved with using .NET in some capacity. Either they currently use .NET or previously did for some projects in the past.

What I asked them was:

  1. How many people do you know that you think would attend at least once every few months?
  2. Is the venue I chose a good location for you to get to?

The purpose was just to gauge overall interest.  There are a lot of developers using .NET in my area.  I’d argue the majority of developers in my area are using .NET in some way.

But I wanted to make sure the ones I knew that would go, how many of there co-workers, who may be dark matter would attend.

The location was important to me because I wanted to make sure it was a very accessible place that wouldn’t be an impediment from people attending.

The amount of interest I got back was enough for me to commit to giving it a go.

The Bad

There are a lot of dark matters developers.  Reaching these people and letting them know of the new user group is a challenge.

There are a lot of small pockets of developers working internally in a company.  It’s fairly normal to see 5 developers in a company using .NET.

The issue is reaching these developers.

As with any developer community, some may never want to attend.  But finding the others that potentially would I believe will just take time.

Persistence

My goal is persistence and over time have the word will spread of the user group.  I’m hoping over time attendance and overall interest will increase.

After having two meetups and the third scheduled, I’m overall happy with the feedback I’ve gotten.

I’ve had a couple people reach out asking how they could help in different capacities which is great.