I was honored earlier this week to present at Steel City SQL - the SQL Server Users Group in Birmingham Alabama. I've also had the opportunity to work alongside Tracy Hamlin (blog | @tracyhhamlin) this week. It's given me a fresh perspective on the amount of work it takes to build and sustain a user group, and reminded me of the sacrifices of UG leaders. In my opinion they're all...
From the outside looking in, leading a User Group looks easy. How hard is it to show up, eat pizza, drink soda, and introduce a speaker? If only that was all there was to the gig...
User group leaders - like Tracy, John Baldwin, Robert Cain (blog | @arcanecode), Ashley Singletary, and Morgan Smith (listed as officers of Steel City SQL here) - do so much more than meets the eye. Before each meeting, they:
- Locate and reserve a venue;
- Lock in a sponsor;
- Find a speaker;
- Create website content announcing the meeting;
- Send email to members of the mailing list;
- Create a schedule;
- Assemble volunteers to help with food, sodas, and the cleanup afterwards;
- Coordinate this activity through a couple dozen emails and phone calls;
- ... and coordinate the remainder of their lives around the meeting!
They make it look easy because they are professionals and they care, but they are taking time away from already-hectic schedules at work, home, church, and other social activities. I know of no User Group leader who receives compensation for their work. They do it for love, and it shows.
Not The Only Ones...
User Group leaders aren't the only community volunteers who sacrifice for the benefit of others; leaders and organizers of virtual events, blogging events, SQL Saturdays, Code Camps, and other events also give back. It makes our community stronger and increases our intellectual wealth. Thank you too!
Tracy tells me the meeting this week was the largest ever for Steel City SQL. Thanks to all who showed up! I sincerely appreciate the leadership of User Groups around the world. Thank you for your tireless efforts month in and month out to support our community and profession.