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Do you have tips or suggestions for reaching out to new user group members?
Asked by marsee
Posted Jan 19 2010 04:39 PM
One question I hear often from user group leaders is that they are having a hard time reaching new members. Do you have three suggestions, tips, or tricks for reaching out to new members?
User Group Manager
Answered by Jefro
Posted Jan 19 2010 05:34 PM
I think it depends on the reasons new users have for joining in the first place. If they are eager but shy, very often new users respond to direct questions more easily than open-ended invitations. Also, some users also respond more readily if they have something constructive to do. Starting a wiki or other collaborative activity can be very useful. Finally, if the group is reasonably geographically close, a real-life meetup can sometimes bring people out of the woodwork, especially if there are door prizes (like O'Reilly books!).
hope this helps!
Comment by jenfloyd : Jan 20 2010 09:17 AM
Are you referring to "attracting new faces to meetings" or "getting members more actively involved"?
Answered by jenfloyd
Posted Jan 20 2010 09:28 AM
I've used a wide variety of methods to reach out to new members. Post frequently to a group website or blog. Social media (particularly Twitter and Facebook group pages) are a good way to get the word out. I've also used traditional media event calendars (usually free) and online classifieds like Craigslist or Yelp events. If you can get an enthusiastic member to write a blog post about the group that's another way to create excitement. It also doesn't hurt to get to know your local tech recruiters, since they can send people to the group and also find prospective hires.
Free food and raffle prizes are a big help. Also "know your audience" and figure out if it's the type of group that wants to talk to vendors about solutions, or folks that just want to network with peers and learn about cool things everyone's working on.
When people order a review copy of an O'Reilly book, bring those to the meetings so that they have to come back. :-)
If you are really lucky then you'll find someone in the community with a product or service that can help your group. Here in Bend there is a guy who makes great handmade coffee mugs (http://www.mugrevolution.com). He gave me mugs with the group logo to raffle off at meetings and give to speakers for a thank you gift. When people saw the mugs it was a double whammy - great advertising for him and for the group!
Answered by Yannick Gingras
Posted Jan 26 2010 09:39 AM
One think that we do at Montréal-Python is to go viral. At every meeting, we have a long presentation but we also have a series of short 5-min flash presentations. This allows us to cover many topics but most of all, it increases the number of persons who fell involved with the event and who tell their friends to come and see their talk. Of all the things that we do, I believe that flash presentations is the one that contributed the most to our success.
Answered by seba_juglugano
Posted Jan 28 2010 03:02 AM
At JUG Lugano (Switzerland, www.juglugano.ch) we are trying to roll out a schema in order to grant credits to University students who are willing to speak at our meetings. While this is still under discussions with the IT Dept at the University, it has certainly triggered a lot of interest among students, and researchers/professors too.
The idea builds along the lines of converting specific professional expertise and experience into University credits, so that professionals in a field - e.g. computer science - can avoid sitting specific exams under given circumstances and upon approval by the University. In the end, giving a presentation at a Java User Group meeting requires homework, study, and the ability/will to communicate with peers, which is what is required when reading for an exam, and at work!
JUG Lugano community leader
Answered by bjepson
Posted Jan 29 2010 11:08 AM
A low-volume announcement-only email list has really helped Providence Geeks grow. We ask every geek we meet if they'll join the mailing list, and use it to announce each upcoming meetup and send out a reminder the day of the event. Basically, two emails a month.
Also, make sure new faces feel welcomed; this gets harder as your group gets larger, but I always try to greet some new faces at each meetup and introduce them to someone who I think shares their interest. If people feel welcome, they will come back again, and they will tell their friends.
Answered by kingjerry
Posted Jan 29 2010 12:21 PM
Our Macintosh User Group is located in a winter vacation / winter home area so there is a great influx of people between November and late April. We have 2 (small sized) Apple Stores within 15 mies BUT they won't feed their customers to us.
Each year, during season and long before there were Apple Stores, we run a set of ten 3 hour courses over 10 weeks during high season for our members. This URL <http://web.mac.com/naplesmug/2010Classes/> shows the 2010 activity. We complement the Apple Store's training. This has attracted new members but via Word of Mouth from existing members.
This year, as an additional approach to locate Mac users we approached the local newspaper and proposed doing a Mac focused, bi-weekly column answering Mac Questions from readers. There are tons of PC focused columns, but few on Mac. The newspaper agreed and we started with the 1st column on 1/1/2010. Here are the URLs of the 3, so far articles.
Hard Drive Space <http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2010/jan/14/mac-411-clearing-crowded-drive-not-just-drag-and-d/>
Visitors / Guests <http://www.naplesnews.com/news/2010/jan/28/mac-411-guest-account-and-visitor/>
The response has been mind-blowing. It has been 28 days and we have gained 102 new members. Our classes are oversubscribed at the room limit of 50 students.
By the way, we meet weekly for a 1.5 hour Q&A session. Ask any question and we will try to answer it. The meeting is open to anyone. We have had twice the number of attendees at each meeting since our newspaper kickoff. We are overflowing the auditorium we use.
JWK analysis. Have a good offering (like our classes and weekly meetings) and use new methods to reach out.
Jerry King President Naples MacFriends User Group (NMUG)
Answered by bcugSandy
Posted Feb 25 2010 08:09 AM
The membership numbers of Brookdale Computer Users Group (BCUG) continue to be healthy. We have about 200 members. While most groups have experienced declining membership, ours has remained somewhat steady.
There is a lot I could say about building membership but since you're just asking for 3 tips on reaching out to new members:
1. At our General Meeting each month, "Welcome to New Members and Guests" is always on the agenda. We do this before the presenter goes on. We ask their names, how they found out about us and what they are interested in.
2. Twice a year, we hold a "BCUG Bash" which means food and a free chance to win a door prize. The door prize could be an external hard drive, a high capacity flash drive, etc.
3. From time to time, we hold an auction where members can bid on software, books, videos, etc. donated by vendors or sometimes our own members. The auctions draw a high interest if we can offer good products.
Whoops. I just thought of a 4th one.
4. At our Windows Workshop, we have a standing offer. "Bring in your tired PC". Members can bring in a PC that is running poorly or not at all and we'll tune it up.
Sandy Rand, President
Brookdale Computer Users Group (BCUG)
Answered by chrisbryant
Posted Mar 12 2010 06:49 PM
I took a bit of a different route at my UCLA JUG in getting members interested. All the usual reaching out methods were used, such as those mentioned here - we're on campus so setting up a stand with literature was a good option, leaving flyers at the campus coffee shops, hacker hangouts, and convincing UCLA administration to forward the announcement to all of campus. Our JUG also meets hospital IT staff needs, so the same was done off-campus for the IT staff, except the coffee shops became break rooms, "campus" became the hallway and then an all-staff email announcement was sent. How I approach it differently, however, is in the plea I make. No mention of swag, or free food or similar lures. I simply quote Tim Robbins as Gary Winston from the movie ANTITRUST (slightly modified):
Why should you join our UCLA JUG?
Because there are no constraints, no boundaries.
Surprise me, challenge me, defy me, defy yourselves.
You have a choice. You can be forgotten, or you can be remembered as one of the noble few who made it.
Now's the time to go way beyond your potential. Now's the time to dig down deep, folks. Now's the time to show why you are the elite. The chosen few. The rare lights that give UCLA its uniqueness, its luminescence.
Now's the time to shine...
I know, I know... But it works!
UCLA JUG Founder
IT Project Manager