In case you didn't get it yet - I believe User Groups are integral to your IT support system and strengthens the local community / economy. I am big on supporting user groups any way I can.
When I was in Winnipeg, I had the good fortune to meet Rodney Buike at the Winnipeg IT Pro UserGroup. Rodney is a Microsoft MVP for Windows Server and the publisher of http://thelazyadmin.com (Great Site!). He also provides content for http://msexchange.org and is working on a book on Virtual Server 2005 R2.
He took up my challenge to provide content for the Canadian IT Pro team blog as a guest blogger - Way to go!
Are you interested in Guest Blogging? Drop me a line!
One answer I often hear when I ask people why they don't participate in IT community events is that they don't see any value besides learning about the technology being covered. While you may not be interested in the particular topic there IS still value in coming out to the events. A perfect example of this follows.
Recently I accepted a position with a different company and leaving my current position. Where was the first place I looked first for a possible replacement? The WITPro user group membership of course! This is the second time I went to the WITPro membership looking for a replacement. The first time was unsuccessful but this time was a different story!
I knew of a student who recently finished school and was looking for work. From talking to him at past events he seemed like a smart guy and he gave back to the group once in a huge way. He had won a draw for a MS PSS card valued at $245USD. Being a student at the time, he felt he wasn't going to need it so he gave it back to the group and we re-drew for the prize. He could have kept it and sold it on eBay but he jut gave it back. I always thought that was cool and even hooked him up with a Vista beta invite.
Anyway, I was hoping to see him at the May WITPro event but he couldn't make it due to an exam the next day. I manged to pull up his contact info from the mailing list and sent him an email asking if he was interested, a brief job description and where to send his resume. I knew he was looking and available and thought I'd at least see if he was interested. Next day I had the resume, looked great and he was in for an interview.
Guess who got hired? Yes that is correct, we hired him and he starts in a few days. He came in, did well is his interview and got the job. This saved us a ton of time, effort and money going the traditional route with a newspaper ad, and we got talented individual in to replace me.
Would he have been hired if he applied through a newspaper ad? Perhaps. Did it help that he was a member of the local IT community? I say yes! More and more these days it is not only what you know, but also WHO you know. Anything that can help you get your foot in the door and to the interview is a benefit! The toughest part about finding a job is differentiating yourself from the 100's of others with the same or similar education and experience. What better way to to get to know more people than through user groups filled with like minded individuals who may have some insights into future openings with their companies! If you are a company, what better way to get to know some of the people that might have resumes coming across your desk in the future?
IT communties and user groups offer much more than free pizza, free seminars on new technologies, and giveaways. They allow you to get to know the people that you may be working for or with one day. It is also a great way for you to share any knowledge you may have that could help someone in his or her enviroment. Who knows, maybe someone will help you solve a nagging issue you have in your enviroment?
Speaking of employment contacts, how do you think I got my new job? One of the user group members introduced me to a friend of his, who was recruiting people to join the company I will be working for. The rest is history 🙂
Check out my section at MSExchange.org! http://msexchange.org/rodney_buike