Practical Tips for Starting a PowerShell User Group
Summary: In today’s blog post, Microsoft Scripting Guy Ed Wilson relates practical tips for starting and running a Windows PowerShell user group.
Microsoft Scripting Guy Ed Wilson here. Today, I am going to do something a little different. I asked some people to provide their suggestions for starting a Windows PowerShell user group. I have compiled their suggestions into today’s article.
Finding a place for your Windows PowerShell User Group to meet
Mark Schill, president of the Atlanta Windows PowerShell User Group:
“Finding a location wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. For my Citrix group, we actually meet at the Microsoft office in Alpharetta. It is by far the best facility around. I originally made contact through a Microsoft contact, but now I just work directly with Spherion, the agency that manages their scheduling for rooms. They are really accommodating, but if you have an after-hours meeting, you have to find a Microsoft employee to sponsor and attend the meetings.
“On the other hand, for the Windows PowerShell group we did not have a local Microsoft employee to sponsor the meetings, and because all of the meetings occur after hours, we were unable to use the Microsoft office. I contacted our local New Horizons training facility through their website. They are supporting a number of Windows PowerShell user groups, and I was told to give them a call. I think they have a company policy encouraging them to support community user groups. We were able to work out the details, so we currently meet at the New Horizons facility.
Getting sponsors for your Windows PowerShell User Group
“Finding sponsors hasn’t been all that hard either. Hal Rottenberg and PowerShellCommunity.org have been extremely helpful putting me in touch with sponsors.
“User Group Support Services (UGSS) is a must for Microsoft user groups. This could be a post of its own. After signing up your user group with UGSS, you should also sign up with GITCA.”
- All GITCA user groups are entitled to a free hosted Windows SharePoint Services website.
- Every GITCA user group is eligible for a Live Meeting account at no cost.
- GITCA members can take advantage of 50 percent off official Microsoft e-learning courses, thanks to an offer from Operitel.
- Every quarter, UGSS sends out a goodies box with lots of stuff.
- You can request up to $1,000 in $500 chunks for your user group. (I used this to pay for pizza and drinks for meetings.)
Advertising the group
Mark Schill continues:
“For advertisement of the group, I have relied heavily on social media. I created a Twitter account for the user group, @ATLPUG. When I create events, I send out a notice via MailChimp to registered members as well as posting via @ATLPUG and my Facebook and LinkedIn accounts. The powershellgroup.org website also allows greater visibility for users looking for a user group.
“Getting speakers has sometimes been hard to do. Most of the speakers have been found by reaching out to the Windows PowerShell community. MVPs have been a great resource for speaking and finding people who would be interested in speaking, but sometimes, it is hard to get scheduling worked out. There are also several key members of the group who have stepped up to speak about various topics. I am a little disappointed because I wish more of the group members themselves would present, but I think they often do not feel they have anything to offer the rest of the group.
“I haven’t had many issues with budgeting. I have been using the UGSS funds to pay for pizza when we were without a sponsor. When sponsors are available, we have them pay for food and drinks or reimburse me. This keeps everything simple and we don’t have to worry about taxes. Some groups solicit donations from the attendees to pay for food.
Creating the website
“Joel Bennet (Jaykul) created a website for all of the Windows PowerShell user groups at http://powershellgroup.org/. You can simply send him email to request a subwebsite for your group. I have had some problems in the past with scheduling events, so I use Eventbrite for creating the meeting requests and MailChimp for tracking members and sending them email.”
Be sure to let Hal and Jon at PowerScripting Podcast know about your user group, and they can announce it to solicit participation in your area. (The Scripting Wife is their scheduler, so I know more about their podcast than the others.) There’s also get-scripting; I know both Jonathan and Alan, so I am sure they will give you a plug. I have been on the Mind of Root podcast and know Steve personally. He is an awesome person and leads a user group in Milwaukee
You may want to consider advertising your meetings and recording the presentations. Twitter reaches a lot of people, and you can sometimes attract both speakers and sponsors by simply raising the profile of your group.
Two guys we met at the PowerShell Deep Dive who run an awesome Windows PowerShell User Group are Mike Pfeiffer and Jason Helmick. Mike just wrote a book about Exchange and Windows PowerShell, so he might be a good guest to have on your list for speakers. But beyond that they may have some pointers for you. Contact them via their AZPOSH website.
On the new Scripting Community page on the Script Center, we have a map that shows the user groups registered on powershellgroup.org. At the top of the page, we announce my upcoming in-person and virtual engagements. As soon as you have a user group webpage created and you have populated it with information, let me know so we will can add it to our Scripting Community page.
I invite you to follow me on Twitter and Facebook. If you have any questions, send email to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or post your questions on the Official Scripting Guys Forum. See you tomorrow. Until then, peace.
Ed Wilson, Microsoft Scripting Guy