Sunday, April 14, 2013

User groups – the prequel

I have always been adamant about the value of sharing experience, of discussing how things happen, should happen, may happen or may fail. In support of such sharing, I have had the privilege of working (if one can call such fun “working”) at the makings of HRGUG. I have also avidly participated at ASUG, and most recently I have added a new star in my firmament – HERUG.

What do these barbaric-sounding acronyms stand for?

HRGUG stands for Human Resources Global User Groups – so we are talking here about those specific corporation having a global approach to HR. The group convenes yearly in Walldorf, Germany. Connections are supported by a dedicated ServiceMarket place area, available only upon approval, and by a LinkedIn group that allows all members to plan, communicate and share. Hosted by SAP at SAP University, it is customer-led and all decision are taken by a volunteering committee.

HERUG is a High Education User Group. While it isn’t specifically dedicated to any function, its specificity is due to the vertical market and its radical different needs from all other types of ERP installations. I am excited to be a part-time participant to the 2013 event. HERUG is purely customer-led, and is hosted by a different High Education institution every year; this year it is in Switzerland, at EPFL site in Lausanne. HERUG is also supported by a LinkedIn group, ensuring on-going and year-round communication. 

ASUG – well perhaps I don’t need to introduce the well-known, massive American SAP User Group? And its regional and industry-specific chapters offer a close intimacy, supportive of collaboration and exchange. It has its own website

But what is really my motivation in participating to all these events, occasionally presenting, and supporting the committee? It sounds like extra work, while I could instead go for a nice vacation. 


Well, not quite.

Large trade show (I am thinking SAPPHIRE here, or HR Tech) are like attending a large wedding, where you don’t know many invitees, you are served decent food and wine, all the while you listen to the speeches of the family. Participating to the above groups (including to the regularly conducted events) is rather going to a dinner party, where the topics of conversation take shape based on mutual interests, food and drink have been selected by your host to fit your tastes, and you end up spending a lovely evening making friends and sharing.

So here are the reasons why I always do my best to find the time and the budget to participate to a few groups every year.
·      The biggest plus of participating is of course in the people interaction. Meeting experts and business partners that become friends in the long run makes possible sharing ideas, tips and lessons learned that is by far more effective and fun than attending ex-cathedra sessions.
·      Networking. Oh, yes, baby. Instead of sitting behind a computer and adding new names to LinkedIn, people met in such events are often cross-industries, cross-functional and in multiple hierarchical levels, able to offer career advice and even to point to new opportunities.
·      Give and take. I share my experience – highlighting my expertise and skill-set (woohoo!), and listen to others providing solutions to similar issues. I connect with the best experts, and it saves me time, and money.
What are your reasons to join in?

I will be on the road to HRGUG and HERUG in the next couple of weeks, and I will do my best to share my experience and my findings.