In this article I am going to give you 10 reasons, why you should join a local user group and be part of their meetings and events.

  1. They’re mostly sponsored, so they’re for free.
  2. You can meet software developers and architects from other companies. This gives you the chance to discuss problems outside of the office and with people having different experience and knowledge.
  3. You’ll learn about many tools, technologies, libraries or other things you’ve never heard about before.
  4. Some sponsored user groups make lotteries where you can win software licenses or developer training subscriptions.
  5. You show your employer that you’re interested in the technology you use or any other topics covered by the user group events and meetings. This could help you recommend yourself for an interesting project or help you to achieve other long time career goals.
  6. You’re able to listen to people who usually only give talks at large conferences. These conferences are often in other countries and cost a lot of money. Since most user groups are for free, you can hear them for free and don’t have to travel around the world.
  7. You can extend your business network. It is always important to know an expert in a specific area. Sooner or later you’ll be thankful to have a contact where you can send your question about a specific problem. In addition a greater network helps you finding a new job, if you want to leave your current company.
  8. You’ll always learn something new. I have been to several user group meetings listening to several new topics, tips and tricks I have never heard about before.
  9. If you have a website or a blog or just started a new project, this is the ideal place to announce your project or to place a link to your blog.
  10. If you want to become a speaker, you’ll have to speak to improve your presentation skills. A user group gives you the ability to start doing so. Most user groups offer their members to have a short talk about a specific topic for about 15 or 20 minutes. Take this chance to start your career as a technical speaker.

I could have written at least ten more reasons why you should join a local user group, but I am sure that these ten are the most important reasons. Therefore I stay with this list to make sure that every reason is seen as important as it really is.

Just in case you are based in Switzerland, as I am, I can recommend you UserGroup .NET Zentralschweiz.

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Claudio Bernasconi

Claudio Bernasconi is a professional software developer, Microsoft certified technology specialist, blogger, technology enthusiast and founder of CarParking Schweiz. Since 2010 he works for KMS AG in Lucerne, Switzerland.