by Steve Elgan, CTA and Omaha CUGC Leader
Executing a successful CUGC meeting can be a challenging task. There are several moving parts to a meeting that CUGC leaders must consider and have a plan for. For the last two years, I have been co-leading the Omaha CUGC group with four other leaders. Scott Osborne, Ryan Revord, Jason Tedrick, Ben Tusa, and myself make up the leadership team. My primary role has been to help with the logistics of the meetings, such as booking the venue, ensuring the bills are paid, planning the menu, and occasionally presenting content. We have learned some lessons and have had some success with pulling large numbers of members to our meetings on a regular basis. I wanted to write this blog to share some of the things we do so that other groups may benefit from it. I recognize that there are always going to be circumstantial opportunities and limitations with each group. My hope is that you’ll find a way to adapt some of these ideas to your own unique set of circumstances.
- Have a plan. Ben Franklin said, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” I love this quote because I am not a natural planner. I am very comfortable just going with the flow and being in the moment; however, life requires diligence, and when it comes to hosting a meeting, you need to plan. You do not need to have an elaborate plan, but your leadership team should meet regularly and plan content for your meetings, such as potential speakers, sponsors, dates, and delegation of tasks. Our leadership team meets about once a quarter over beers at a local brewery.
- Define success. Not all groups will define success the same way. Our Omaha group aims to have well-attended events with quality content. To achieve this, we want at least 40 people at an event and one quality technical presentation from a community member. Our leadership team is well connected with the community, so finding a quality speaker has been achievable for every meeting.
- Create a partnership. These meetings are about creating relationships with others in the Citrix community. Of all the things I’m discussing here, this is the area you should pay attention to most. There are several key groups that we have created great relationships with.
- Our local Citrix Team. Our leadership team knows the local Citrix Team well. They attend all of our meetings, and we give them 10-15 minutes to speak and answer questions. We are grateful for their support to drive membership and attendance. If your local Citrix Team does not attend your meetings, reach out to them and invite them. Talk to them candidly about how you can help each other out.
- CUGC HQ. By now, you probably know that these folks are all rock stars. We work hard to ensure that our communication is always timely and that we are fully engaged in the execution of the details to line up speakers, sponsors, and pay the bills. In turn, they always take great care of us.
- Citrix Partners. These people are a huge part of the success of our group. Their engineers are the boots on the ground in the customer environments every day. They help drive attendance and participation. They are also great presenters! We do set boundaries with the sales staff by kindly letting them know that our group is for technical people only. Citrix Partners are members of our leadership team, which I think has been a huge benefit to our group.
- CTPs and CTAs. Some of our leaders are CTPs or CTAs, which helps, but that was not always the case. What has been the case is that members of our leadership team have forged great relationships with these community members, and we have been able to call on them for presentations or have just invited them to attend our meetings.
- Members. Our leaders intentionally walk around to members of the user group during meetings, introduce themselves, and try to get to know the members. We express our gratitude for attending the meeting and encourage them to bring their colleagues.
- Sponsors. The sponsors are the reason we are able to have our events at a nice venue and serve food. We are deliberate with expressing our gratitude to our sponsors at each meeting. Sponsors are always given at least 30 minutes to present and answer questions.
- Get organized. We have our own Podio site where we store all of the information about our contacts, venues, contracts, and other ideas. You do not need to use Podio, but it helps to have a central place to work from.
- Be intentional with executing well. Ensure that the leadership team and all presenters show up 30 minutes early to test connectivity and to discuss the agenda. Create a simple slide deck, but don’t read it verbatim. This comes with practice, so don’t worry about being perfect right out of the gate.
- Stay connected. The members of the user group want fresh content and real-world examples that demonstrate the benefit of Citrix products. Each member of the leadership team is plugged into all the latest product releases, news, blogs, and other trends in the EUC world so we can ensure that our content is as fresh as possible.
- Promote, promote, promote! We send out save-the-date reminders to our group even if we do not have all the details worked out. We work hard to promote with weekly reminders on Twitter, CUGC forums, or in-person conversations. Promotion is key in getting people to RSVP.
- Surveys. We promote the surveys at the end of each of our meetings. Once we get the surveys, we actually listen to the feedback and try to incorporate it into our plan going forward. We can’t please everyone all the time but, we can sure try to.
I sincerely hope that this article has provided value to you. If you are looking for more great information about leading your meetings, I’d like to bring your attention to two great blog articles that Mike Nelson wrote back in 2015. He has many great ideas and suggestions that are worth reading.