on 04-19-2017 11:33 AM
Hello to the leaders! I would love to get some feedback from you. I am working on the idea of having a series of virtual meetings to discuss best practices and answer your questions about leading a SAS users group. Is this something you would be interested in?
If so, are there any topics that you, as a leader, would like to learn more about? Do you have questions around best practices for users groups? What would you like to take away from this?
We appreciate all you do for the SAS users community and thank you for all of your ideas!
on 04-19-2017 01:16 PM
I'm a new SC member of BASUG; I would happily join such a call to learn from others.
@zeketorres_sasaholic lead an informal call a couple months ago that was along these lines (see https://communities.sas.com/t5/SAS-User-Group-Leaders/LUG-Leader-Best-Practices-Conference-Call-Anyo...) .
We discussed LUG / RUG meeting format (virtual vs live); cost-benefit of becoming a nonprofit; liability concerns; and more. I thought it was great.
on 04-19-2017 02:56 PM
on 05-03-2017 03:58 PM
Thank you for this feedback! I would love to hear more about the meeting format discussion. What was the general feeling on that? How open are users groups to virtual meetings? I support some groups that only meet virtually and some who do a combination - but many groups never have them. I can't help but wonder if it's because they haven't considered the option or if they don't really think it would be of benefit.
Looking forward to more discussion about this topic!
on 05-03-2017 04:20 PM
I am replying for myself, and not necessarily for the whole group. We have held virtual speaker presentations, but IMHO our members do not need to go to a a meeting site to hear a virtual speaker. Vertual presentations should be reserved to webcasts that can be attended from the comfort of their home or office.
on 05-03-2017 05:32 PM
I'm not a user group leader anymore, unless helping to co-ordinate SAS-L annual meetings counts. Between 2008 and 2012 I was president of the Toronto Area SAS Society.
However, if interested/desired, I'd be glad to share what I think I know in the type of conference call you suggested. During the time of my tenure we had between 180-200 people at each of four meetings we'd hold every year.
As for the other questions that I noticed in this thread I, personally, don't like web-based presentations for user group meetings (although, admittedly, I've both presented and participated in a number of them). I prefer face-to-face meetings/presentations because a major take away are the professional connections and re-connections one can make at an in-person meeting and, IMHO, the fact(?) that both the speakers and audiences get more out of in-person presentations. I also think that webex (and the like) participants get more out of seeing/participating in a presentation with an in-person audience than they do from one that is only involves a web-based audience.
Art, CEO, AnalystFinder.com
on 05-03-2017 05:59 PM
In my view, a hybrid can work. The physical meetings offer tremendous value (as Art indicates) and cannot be replaced. The experience is better for all, and the networking is exceptional - a very important part of growing ties between members of the community.
We sometimes feature a single presentation offered as a WebEx/virtual talk. This is usually offered because of travel/scheduling conflicts, a particularly powerful/well-suited topic for a group or agenda. The 'in person' audience still finds value as we haven't typically made this presentation available to the global audience outside the room (i.e. it is only broadcast within the context of the meeting).
Recently we've been experimenting in Canada with select groups to see if there's an appetite for a full virtual/live simultaneous meeting, letting the community decide if they'd like to attend in person or simply dial in. The sample size is small, but so far, the results are resoundingly in favour of the live experience. WebEx exclusive registrations are so few that they're almost not even worth mentioning.
We'll continue to tinker with our Canadian user group program to ensure that we're fulfilling the goal of offering maximum value to the SAS user community. So far, that would indicate keeping the live component as the foundation of how we support each other.
05-04-2017 01:26 AM - edited 05-04-2017 01:27 AM
Here in Alaska we have a single user group for a fairly large geographical area (AKSUG http://www.sascommunity.org/wiki/Alaska_SAS_Users_Group), consequently it is not always practical for folks to come to the monthly meetings in person. So we have been using the hybrid approach and have found that it increases our reach. That said i prefer the F2F part of the meeting best.
on 05-04-2017 08:44 AM
I agree that I like face-to-face best. I have life-long friends met in person at SAS User Group meetings. That being said, I work for an organizaiton (Anthem) that has users across the company so our monthly user group meetings are all virtual and draw up to 300 attendees. It has turned out to be an excellent way of learning from each other. Over time we get to know others quite well, even in the virtual setting. I was excited to meet someone from my company in person for the first time at SAS Global Forum that I have listened to present and shared code with many times.
on 05-04-2017 05:30 PM
I am very much for the idea of having regular virtual meetings for Local SAS User Group Leaders to share ideas, get answers to topics and find ways to collaborate. Imho - i felt that was what the original post was on this thread. I very much appreciate the leaders who were able to join our first call and I am happy that it was lively and informative. I believe that we all agreed we should consider a future virtual call.
To that I would like to propose/ask...
a. Can SAS hold quarterly virtual webinars - invite local SAS user group leaders and have two parts to this meeting?
b. Part 1 - Q/A and discussion on a pre-agreed upon set of topics, agenda.
c. Part 2 - Maybe an expert of some sort with advice and insight(s) - and where to go for more details locally.
We have lots of talk that concerns the "do we incorporate" and i cant imagine that will ever go away. Another was "do we need insurance for an event", i also recall "so do we need a bank account".
I wouldnt ask SAS to give us advice - per-se. But what about SAS sponsoring a qualified individual on one of those topics, who would learn about how local user groups are before the call, then give us "GENERAL" advice and tips for us to consider?
That to me would be very important and informative.
The second thread that seems to be developing in this post is "what method of meeting is better? Virtual or F2F". I feel that should be in its own post. FWIW - here in Chicago we do a hybrid and its just fine.
on 05-05-2017 09:06 AM
Yes Zeke...this is the type of meeting that I have in mind and am always interested in hearing what type of topics interests users group leaders.
I'll keep you updated with the progress of this series. Thank you for your input!!