I have recently been engaged in starting an IT users group and since it has been consuming most of my time I thought I would post some of my observations about the process as I have gone about it.
I have wanted to start a Linux Users Group(LUG) for some time now, but recently I came to the conclusion that my IT interests are too broad for just a LUG. I mean no insult to LUGs, I only mean that I am also interested in learning about topics that would normally not be welcome at a LUG. Two very good examples of this are Cisco and Windows. With that in mind I set about the process of putting the group together. This brings me to step/point number one.
1. Do your research. Find out if there is anyone out there who is already doing what you want to do.
As it turns out there was a group in Dallas whose mission was very similar to what I wanted to put together http://dfwitprofessionals.com/. However, most if not all of their meetings take place in Northern Dallas areas which are too far for me to drive on a regular basis, although I will be attending several of the meetings. Armed with my new knowledge I set out to contact this other group to see if they would be interested in working together to help bring the IT communities of the Dallas/Fort Worth area together. So far this relationship has been very good, and I hope to see the two organizations grow and bring the IT community of Dallas closer together.
2. Learn the power of doing.
One of the most important factors in the early success of this group has been that I finally decided to “shoot from the hip” and execute the plan prior to having all the details worked out. I am not saying that this is always the right way of doing things, but it can certainly help you get out of a rut. Very often we get caught up in “analysis paralysis” and kill the idea before it even has time to take root.
3. Use your momentum
Some of the hardest parts to starting an idea are at the beginning. Use the momentum you gain from the previous step to propel you through them. In setting up the meeting we had to find and schedule a location, create a website, organize presentations, organize refreshments and actually show up. In this case there were no difficult tasks, but there were a lot of them. We pushed through and made it happen.
4. Realize that the real success isn’t whether people show up
Regardless of whether it is successful by mainstream metrics, the most significant thing is that you did something instead of just thinking about it. There is no way to be successful by just sitting around and thinking about how you could be successful.