As the month ends we too end our month long celebration of 10 years of Community with INETA. It has been a great month for the community.
INETA sent out 150 user groups to user groups in North America. Lots of birthday pictures have been submitted. A video was even made by a user group to say thanks and another was created by GrapeCity to celebrate our awesome community.
Thanks again to our sponsors that helped make this possible.
Let’s keep the momentum going for the next 10 years. Take advantage of the programs available through INETA and let us know if there’s anything INETA can do to help your user group.
I started working with INETA almost 6 years ago and at that time I had no idea what a user group was or what was meant by “community”. I went to my first TechEd with INETA in 2007 and all of that changed. It was so much fun seeing all those people with one common goal coming to our booth looking for people to network with and actually being able to help them get connected! I have thoroughly enjoyed meeting all of the people in the “community”. It is so fun getting to know the new volunteers and making lasting friendships. I love my job and the work that INETA does to help make community better.
Happy Birthday INETA!
INETA Administrative Assistant
Happy Birthday INETA! I am honored I have had the opportunity to be around for 9 of those 10 years. WOW…9 years goes by fast when you are having fun! The developer community is certainly unique and I am amazed at the level of dedication and bond you all have. This is something to be proud of. Thanks for letting me come along for the ride…looking forward to the next 10 years!
INETA Administrative Assistant
Congratulations INETA on 10 years!
I know firsthand that the last 10 years was made possible by the commitment and efforts of a large number of people. Thank you to everybody involved for their time and effort.
I think it was back around 2005 when I personally got involved with INETA. Our local developer user group TRINUG (www.trinug.org) was already an INETA member group and benefitted greatly from the resources they made available. At the start of TechEd in Orlando, INETA hosted a gathering of community leaders. The gathering provided an opportunity to meet other individuals from the user group community. Many of the people were already volunteering, and it became a great opportunity to get involved in the exciting activities.
One of the key things that INETA does both directly and indirectly is helping bring developers together. Over the years this through resources such as the Speaker Bureau, SWAG kits, Birds Of A Feather sessions, and summits have helped bring people together. In the spirit of bringing developers together, there was car pooling. Thanks to the generosity of peers, seeing how many people could fit in that 2-door rental to get a ride back to the hotel.
Fun and games aside, it was a great opportunity to meet people and get involved. I left TechEd signed up to volunteer to help organize and coordinate with Microsoft to hold Visual Studio 2005 Community Launch Events around the world. The effort highlighted how many of the great things we all love to be involved in, take a tremendous amount of work behind the scenes to make happen. I stayed involved with the INETA Community Activities team, eventually joining the INETA Board of Directors as the VP of Community Activities and eventually served as President.
The thing that I found most rewarding in the end about getting involved and volunteering with INETA was the opportunity it gave me to meet and interact with so many amazing people. I developed so many relationships that I greatly value today with people directly involved with INETA, individuals involved in the member groups INETA worked to support, and also with Microsoft and the many other companies that provided support and sponsorship to INETA. While local user groups and developer events help me connect with other developers, INETA has helped connect me with other user group leaders through North America and around the world.
I learned a lot from other group leaders from their successes and failures and was often inspired by them. Like almost everything thing in life, what you get out of something is proportional with what you put in. I’m a big believer in community, and feel that the relationships we build and experiences we gain by interacting with our peers help us all grow both personally and professionally. I’m thankful for all that INETA does to try and help provide support and resources, and for the many individuals that make up our extended user group community and their efforts to help others connect, learn, and grow.
I encourage you to get involved. I’m glad I did.
How often do you wish that you had someone to help troubleshoot an issue, brainstorm on a design, warn you about a bug or performance hit, or just talk shop? If you’re part of a development team, then you may be able to count on your colleagues for these types of interactions. But, if you’re the point person, a consultant, or moving into new territories, it can sometimes feel as though you have no one to turn to as you encounter unexpected challenges. There has GOT to be an easier way -- and thankfully there is. If you are a member of a user group, you have instant access to a wealth of relevant expertise and experience. And that is just one of the immediate benefits of belonging to a user group.
If you’ve attended a use group meeting, you already know that they provide far more than a friendly atmosphere dedicated to a main presentation and a Q&A session. Those two sections pretty much speak for themselves, but in case you haven’t been to a UG meeting, you might envision the Q&A session as an open forum for seeking solutions to a current challenge. Members describe (or demo) the issue and get suggestions and hear how others have dealt with similar scenarios. Agendas will vary, but meetings typically also include time for discussions focused on helping participants keep up with the changes in technology, such as new products, tools and features --- whether they are directly related to the UG, are of general interest, or can provide a valuable benefit to developers in general. The bottom line is that user group meetings are an excellent forum to network, to connect with people working on comparable projects or who have solved similar challenges; and to find out about related areas that could lead to a new ventures.
Speaking of new products, companies (sponsors) recognize the value of having their products used and reviewed by user groups. So, in return for an objective review, members often have opportunities to get free, fully-licensed versions of software and other products. As you can imagine, this can be a significant professional benefit (and savings) to the reviewer/winner. And of course, fellow members benefit from hearing how the product performed; especially if it is complemented with a demo. This leads to even more benefits to the presenter. By giving a presentation, however short, to the group, they are bolstering their professional image, polishing their presentation skills, strengthening their networking ties within the group, and will likely hear a few suggestions on additional ways to leverage the new product.
So what are you waiting for? If you’re a member, send your president a note and volunteer to do a presentation, help at a meeting or suggest a topic. If you aren’t currently active in a user group, find one --- whether it is local or online. But why limit yourself to one? You are welcome to join multiple groups; take it from me, I’m the president of two user group. Take a colleague and commit to visiting a few sessions (keep in mind that topics and presentations are given by fellow developers not professional speakers). Get involved; the more you give, the more you will get. Participating in user group meetings may be the most cost effective investment that you can make for your technical and professional development.
At the meetings, you’ll find yourself surrounded by people who are passionate about the product and eager to help others. For me, my user group members are an invaluable support network, personally, professionally and technically. I have turned to them with urgent needs and perplexing challenges, and they have always helped me to succeed. I’ve developed deep friendships that reach across hundreds, even thousands of miles. It is a privilege and an honor to be chosen to lead the groups, and to be an INETA National Community Champion. It doesn’t matter how many demands are made on my time, I always leave the UG meetings energized and with a renewed commitment to do more. Give it a try!
It seems like just yesterday when I was on my porch in Delray Beach Florida on the phone with Bill Evjen about the Visual Basic .NET Bible we were writing for Wiley (Hungry Minds at the time) when he mentioned this thing he was working to organize user groups around the world. I thought it was an awesome idea, and I wanted in.
It might sound really geeky, but I’ll never forget my first user group meeting I ever attended at the Gold Coast User Group, sometime in 1997 or 1998, in Boca Raton, Florida. The presentation was on FrontPage 98. It was cool, but that isn’t what got me hooked. What got me hooked were the awesome people at the user group meeting. That day I met Joe Homnick, Dave Noderer, Shervin Shakibi, Kevin Julien, Paul George, and a bunch of other tech-geeks that I still have great relationships with today. So when Bill was talking to me about this larger umbrella of a user group organization, I knew that it would work because of the passion that exists in user groups and their leaders to build community.
At the Gold Coast User Group, it wasn’t long before they convinced me to do a talk … and this happens over and over again every month and user groups all over the world. The community makes the group stronger and sustains it, the user group lives on no matter who the leader is. The same holds true for INETA. Bill Evjen, Brian Loesgen, Keith Franklin, Keath Pleas were all founding board members 10 years ago. The board has churned and changed over the years, but the mission and passion around INETA still exists today.
My involvement with INETA was pretty heavy from 2003 to 2008. I was in the speakers bureau, I was founding member and co-chair of the INETA Academic Committee with Jeff Julian, I was on the Web Site Committee for a stint with Bill Wolff and Chris Pels, and my final commitment was 2 terms as the Secretary on the board. For all of the ups and downs and challenges we had over the years to make INETA great, I will always say this was one of the best organizations to be part of. It was exciting and rewarding because of the people. It also encouraged me to start the Florida .NET User Groups with Dave Noderer, Shervin Shakibi and Kevin Julian, and when I moved to New Jersey, I started the New Jersey .NET User Group near Princeton. I am not longer involved in either group, but they are both thriving and have grown to see great success.
As INETA celebrates its 10th anniversary, and there is yet another group of passionate community focused developers donating a ton of their time to make the worldwide user group community better shows that Bill had a pretty good idea 10 years ago. To be part of INETA was awesome, but to see it continue even stronger (with a lot less resources!) is even better. If you are passionate about .NET and development, get involved with your local user group. If you are a blog writer or Tweeter, get in front of a user group and do a talk. You will be part of something special.
East Bay.NET, supporting developers in the area to the east of San Francisco Bay, began as a small group around a conference table at a local company in October of 2003. We have since had 95 meetings with as many as 123 developers (for a talk by Paul Vick).
With INETA’s help, we have had some great INETA speakers such as Rocky Lhotka, Jeff Prosise, Kathleen Dollard, and Julie Lerman. And our members love the books and T-shirts!
Thanks and Happy Birthday INETA!
During the early days of INETA, I agreed to speak to a user group at Colorado State University. I booked a plane ticket into Colorado Springs and arrived there on a bright and sunny afternoon. Before I left the rental car counter, I asked the person behind the desk if he could give me directions to CSU. He pointed north and said “it’s about 4 hours that way.”
I nearly did a double-take, because I thought CSU was near Colorado Springs. Turns out it’s in Fort Collins, which is a straight shot up Interstate 25. The good news is that it’s not a 4-hour drive, especially at the speeds at which I drove to make it to the meeting. I learned a valuable lesson that day: ALWAYS double-check your destination to make sure it’s where you think it is! (Honest, I think CSU used to be in Colorado Springs, but they moved it when they learned I was coming.)
Over the years, many of the INETA Speakers Bureau members and volunteers have appeared on ".NET Rocks, the Internet Audio Talk Show for .NET Developers". INETA itself was featured in episode 30 of .NET Rocks with Carl Franklin and Mark Dunn, both of whom were on the Speakers Bureau as well. The show was published June 23, 2003. The guests on the show included Bill Evjen, Brian Loesgen, Julie Lerman, and Jose Berrios. The conversation covered how INETA was started, services offered, volunteers, user group ideas and of course, pizza.
You can listen to that episode at http://www.dotnetrocks.com/default.aspx?showNum=30.
Back in 2004, Microsoft created a movie about INETA for their Global Conference to show their employees how important user groups are in the development of community as well as to Microsoft. You can see this video here