Building a User Group Everyone Wants to Join
I suspect that most of us take our local tech meetups for granted. I mean, I don’t know what it’s like where you live, but I’m in Southern California, and I could attend them seven days a week if I wanted without even breaking a sweat. They’re everywhere, covering most every topic in our industry, and they’re generally free. You show up, have a seat, suck up valuable knowledge from a presenter for an hour, chat with industry colleagues, and scoot off on your way. You probably don’t give a thought to what it took to put the meetup together. I know I didn’t…until I had to host one. Finding a company that will lend you a large space on a regular basis, rounding up sponsors to pay for the free food (and beer), promoting the meetup, and keeping a roster full of interesting, knowledgeable speakers is no joke. It’s not quite a full-time job, but it’s not inconsequential either. It’s a vigorous side-hustle (to put it mildly) if you’re looking to do it well.
Which is why I’m fairly in awe of Lisa-Marie Namphy. She runs the world’s largest OpenStack user group and has had a hand in starting and/or running at least a dozen other tech meetups—all while holding down a very real full-time job. I honestly don’t understand how she does it, so I decided to ask her how on this week’s episode of Cloud Unfiltered. If you’re a community architect, or are considering starting a meetup, you’ll definitely want to tune in to pick up pro tips from someone who is arguably one of the most successful organizers in the business. Among other things, during our conversation Lisa explains:
- How meetups fill a need by addressing the needs of admins and operators
- Why the SF Bay Area Open Infrastructure User Group has been so successful
- What should be in your presentation (and what you’d better leave out) if you’re invited to present at a meetup
- Why the steep learning curve for containers is worth tackling
- Why documentation is so important to the success of an open source community
To hear all of this in a much more detailed and interesting format, check out the full episode below and hear it from Lisa-Marie herself. If you prefer audio-only, it’s also available on iTunes and SoundCloud.
And if you’d like to check out past episodes of this podcast (we’ve got more than 50 of them!), just pop on over to the archive at https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/solutions/cloud/podcasts.html. Really. Do it. There’s some great stuff in there.