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Exasol Alumni

How to kick off a new User Group

Some quick thoughts on the golden rules to start a successfull User- or special interest group

A successful user group has three very basic ingredients. A topic, a place, and people participating. Having all three is a good start, but will not take you further than may be the first or two editions. To build a successfull group it needs the special ingredient, your engagement, and honest feedback to make sure everyone attending gets value out of their time spent attending. This needs some planning (where we will help you a lot), and we will cover a lot in this article.

Did someone else already start this?

As we are growing, the chances that someone has or had the same idea is getting bigger. So please check in the overview of existing user groups that your local initiative does not exist. You can check here: https://community.exasol.com/t5/user-groups/ct-p/UserGroups what groups and places are already covered. If you are interested to join a local group and support. Contact us and we connect you with peers locally. If there is no User Group in your region, or for your topic. Just reach out to usergroup@exasol.com and we make sure to help you organize the user group.

There is a blank I want to fill

So you have looked through the list and there is no events where you feel represented or at least none for while? Reach out to usergroup@exasol.com or to one of the speakers that attended past user groups like @przemek @tpetrik @littlekoi to learn more about how these events are happening. If you want a global view, ask @mwellbro no one has seen more User Groups globally outside of the Exasol-Team.

In addition, you can also reach out to your Exasol Account Manager or Exasol Partner Manager they will connect you to the right person(s) in Exasol and at other Companies to help you get going.

Where should I run the User Group?

Next step is to decide if you plan to go for a local user group or something more topic or vertical oriented.

  • Local User Group: check with usergroup@exasol.com about the potential size of the local crowd based on customer and local partners. Then please help us to find one or two potential location where the user group could happen. Experience has shown that a user's office is better than a hotel, restaurant, or meeting space, and that central locations trump the suburbs. Please allow 6-8 weeks before the event to secure the location and arrange promotion and other tasks. If there are not enough participants in your region, lets consider switching to a virtual group this eases access to many, but lowers after event chat and ...
  • Special Interest or Vertical groups: these groups tend to be better virtual, as we can address a lot broader audience across many territories and it gives you the chance to line up more speakers to keep the Group running and running and running. We will provide you with the neccessary technology to run the Virtual User Group. Also we can start virtual user groups with less advance warning. 4-6 Weeks should be enough in most cases if Topic and Speakers are secured.

What should we talk about?

The potential topics are broad and vary in-depth and technical expertise. Sometimes user groups are about an overview of a project, sometimes they dive into a specific technical topic and others take care of the integration between Exasol and a certain third parts. And most of the times we are amazed about the dedication and interest we get from others about a topic that no one has expected to draw a followership.

Besides the technical content, what listeners like best is when they learn more about the actual project, what happened during the change, where did you see problems (People love other people's problems) and how did you overcome them. Communicate with the audience, ask them, challenge them. And don't expect everyone to like it. There is always the one person who heard it all, heard it better and knows it better.

If you are reeeeeeallly going all the way. Gang up with 1-2 more speaker and fix not only a single event, but think about the whole season. There is a german saying, "Three Times is a tradition" and there is some truth in it...

An example agenda for a User Group could be

  • Welcoming and Networking
  • Intro to the User Group, Presenters, etc.
  • Presentation, Discussion, Training
  • Q&A Session
  • Short update from Exasol about a tech topic of choice
  • Closing
  • Networking (in real-life settings)

Expect 60 - 90 Minutes for a virtual and 90 - 120 Minutes for a real-life event. And may be some after hours...

How do we get a room full of people?

To start with, don't expect one. May be you start with just 10 participants, the important number to look out for is, how many are coming back for the next one. What participants want is Value. "What did I learn, did it make sense to spend the time at this user group rather than with my kids?" Think about it like this. If you had heard your presentation 1-2 Years ago, would you have profited so much, that you want to come back? Or would you meet someone to talk to afterwards?

We will help you generating the initial buzz via E-Mail, Social Media and on this Community Plattform. But also think about your own networks and help us filling the room.

I hope this helped you with your decision.

If there are questions, as usual, let me know



We're happy to get your experiences and feedback on this article below!