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About this book

This book is about starting and sustaining a technology user group. User groups are a wonderful way to connect with local and like-minded professionals for networking and learning. All the forums and social media on the internet can’t replace face-to-face time spent discussing problems, upcoming technologies, and other pertinent topics. What every user group needs is leaders to organize meetings, find speakers, and connect the community.
What every leader needs is good advice and guidance on how to begin a group and nurture new leadership to keep the group sustainable, and Michelle Malcher provides just that right sort of guidance in her book on User Group Leadership. This book is designed to help you understand what goes into starting and building a user group, giving you the tools and resources to do so. Learn what to expect before your first meeting, in the first three months, and in the first year.
Malcher has experience from the local group level on up to the international level with the Independent Oracle User Group. If you’re involved in technology and are ready to take on a position of leadership by which to help others network, succeed, and grow, then grab a copy of this book. You won’t find a better source of guidance for starting and growing a new group on the technology of your choice.
Learn what to know before you ever have your first meetingPrepare for each meeting with a list of things that should be doneGrow your local members into future leaders

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Development of a User Group

One of the best career decisions I have ever made was becoming a member in a user group, and probably the best career decision was volunteering for a user group.
Michelle Malcher

Chapter 2. User Group Governance

Governance of a user group might not be one of the first things that you think of when getting started, or even in the leadership skills that are developed as being part of the user group governance, but it is critical for the group to be able to function as a coherent entity. It is possible talking about governance first might be getting ahead of developing of the leaders in the community; however, seeing the goal of what needs to be established supports the need and highlights the areas for growth.
Michelle Malcher

Chapter 3. Building Leaders Volunteers

Volunteer engagement is instrumental in developing a collaborative and vibrant community. The designated leaders on the board have strategies and committees in place to accomplish the many tasks to sustain the user group, but it is with the strength and energy of the volunteers that the community will be more than just maintained. The user group will provide more than just education regarding technologies and products as well as opportunities for personal development and growth. In technology fields, users might be more focused on implementing and engineering solutions and do not have as much time to develop leadership skills. Even with technology focus there are ways to take initiative to solve problems and mentor others leading to soft skill development. The user group can provide a place to cultivate leadership skills and then be able to demonstrate them in volunteer positions or in the day-to-day work environment. Even without the management title or specific managing responsibilities everyone can be a leader and can improve leadership skills. User groups are an ideal place to advance, continue to learn, and to prepare volunteers for leadership and other roles.
Michelle Malcher

Chapter 4. User Group Planning

A user group is to provide activities for the members, including education, networking, and relevant resources. Event and activities can be planned to get the group started. If the group is already established, there can be additional planning to make sure that the events are what the group needs.
Michelle Malcher

Chapter 5. User Group Membership

Members are the community. In forming a user group, the purpose should obviously revolve around the members. The members are a vital reason to have the group. Reasons to form a group might be a desire to have better ways to deal with a product or vendor, learn about enhancements that might be needed, or even discuss issues that might come. The members of the users group can provide help for each.
Michelle Malcher

Chapter 6. Challenges

So far we have discussed the main areas to setup a user group, recruit volunteers and attract the members to the user group. It is not as easy, just thinking that a user community is needed for a specific product or vendor without doing your homework. A few of these challenges have been mentioned along the way and in developing a strategy for the user group these challenges should be taken under consideration maybe even anticipated to prepare for them.
Michelle Malcher

Chapter 7. Techie to Leader

I have been in a technical career for quite some time. Problem solving, querying data, writing code to automate something, and testing to validate that it works makes it fun to be in technology. There is so much to the database world with tools, data integrations, administration, development, and, of course, security. Database teams work with several partners and there are interactions with different teams. There are technical issues and problems to solve, and while that might be good enough there are people who would like to be leaders, and I am not talking about just leaders in their field. There are leaders in their field and there are leaders that also have the titles to go along with it. Finally, there are those that can continue with all of the technology fun and demonstrate leader skills and especially considered a go to person because of that. There are ways to develop these skills that get you noticed in the organization, as someone with the technical skills and abilities to make the important decisions.
Michelle Malcher

Chapter 8. Career Development

I have had jobs and careers. Jobs are a place to earn money, but there is more to careers. Careers are good things and still have an interesting aspect almost just funny. If you think about we work to pay bills and spend time doing thing we like in our free time. I look at careers as something you actually enjoy at the same time, so work and spending time doing something we like is the same thing. It is entertaining to me because I have had a few careers in my lifetime, and have felt the most at home in technology. I have enjoyed some of the other areas I have worked in but I started to see the opportunities in a technology field and switched careers from financial to database professional. I am also finding my career has changed as my experience has increased which tends to make sense. Different experiences have led me to explore these opportunities and evaluate what I am doing. It is a dream to be able to have a job that you enjoy doing, but if you think about it, it is where you spend a ton of time. I am not trying to be a career counselor here or bore you with my career path, but I believe that there is something to be learned here about finding an area of interest by exploring, researching, and exploiting the available resources. If it is something you enjoying doing day-to-day, it becomes the hobby, too, with involvement in the user groups. I have other interests outside of databases for my some of my free time, but because I enjoy my field and my experience with the user group they play off each other to make what I do more interesting and allow me to excel in these areas.
Michelle Malcher

Chapter 9. Qualities of a User Group Leader

A user group provides a variety of benefits for the members and the leaders of the community. The leadership of the group sets the strategy and develops the plan for growth, and the list of things that only a board of directors can do requires strong leaders. Starting a user group takes a ton of work, and participating on the user group board of director takes time, too. Going into it for the wrong reasons—self-promotion, fame, and fortune—will just leave you frustrated and not allow for the development of volunteers. In order to start to build others up as leaders, you need to understand yourself as a leader and seek out qualities that are going to have other good leaders part of the team.
Michelle Malcher

Chapter 10. Qualities of a User Group Volunteer

Volunteers are critical to any community. There are several qualities that are important in a good volunteer. A volunteer is also developing leadership.
Michelle Malcher
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