Friday, October 10, 2008

Motivating the Demotivational - Local Microsoft User Groups

Back in the Winter, I was working for a Microsoft consulting partner doing odds and ends customer engagements and "tag-alongs" with other consultants. I was a "systems engineer" and my focus was on System Center, but I spent more time on a variety of things besides.

During that journey I had discussions with a friend at Microsoft about forming user groups in Virginia to help foster some networking and so forth. I sent out invites to fill out a SurveyMonkey survey online to help gather input about how the group should work (where and when to meet, etc). There was also information in the invite describing how we would be shoring up the meetings with visits from Microsoft and partners to explore various products and technologies. There was also mention of free giveaways (products, swag, etc). The goal was to make it a no-cost membership.

I mailed out 20 invites and asked everyone to forward them along. I got three (3) responses.

Three?

I mailed it again to about 15 more. I got zero additional responses.

Three?!!

Keep in mind that there are maybe four computer-related user groups in our area (Hampton Roads) and none of them focus on Microsoft issues. There's one SQL users group, but it spends more time meeting in Richmond (2 hours away) than here in it's so-called home district. We have nothing in the way of keeping people connected and informed. It's all do-it-yourself via the web and self-education. Lame. Totally lame.

I know for sure that there are many skilled engineers, administrators, and technicians in this area. The amount of knowledge that could be shared and empowered from networking should be obvious enough to get even a little interest. Nope.

I don't know what to attribute that to. In other geographic regions there's enormous interest in such things. They stay much more informed on new technologies and methods for solving problems. But even aside from those material benefits, there's the networking opportunities that certainly can't hurt, especially in the context of our current suckwad economy.

No interest at all. This place is asleep at the wheel.

Now, having said all that: If you live in the Hampton Roads area, give me a shout and let me know you would be interested in joining a user group. For anyone not familiar with what "Hampton Roads" is, it is a term used to identify the Southeastern corner of Virginia. It includes the cities of Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Suffolk, Newport News, Hampton, Yorktown, Williamsburg (sort-of). Maybe we could meet in one place, or maybe split it into two places. Who knows. I'm open to anything at this point. I'm a terminal optimist.
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