Local community user groups are great, you get to meet new people who are passionate about similar things to you and learn cool new stuff.
Refresh Teesside is my local user group. I attended the latest monthly meet-up this week and had a really good time. The event itself is free thanks to sponsors and food is also provided (It looked great although I didn’t get chance to have any as I was busy chatting to new people!)
I was really pleased to meet a couple of people that could assist my employer in our future business projects. I often felt bad at community events because I was an employee in tech rather than a business owner or independent contractor and that I had nothing to offer the community. As it happens the business I work for has needs that we cannot meet internally that could very well be filled by the local digital community.
It certainly was a refreshing experience to meet digital professionals from the more creative industries at Refresh Teesside. Sure it’s great to talk tech with other tech geeks and I did discuss the SMART status of hard disks in RAID arrays at one point with some guys, but Refresh Teesside offers a good mix of all groups.
The talk by Richard Powell (Twitter @byrichardpowell) on running your first workshop was very informative and suggested that as professionals with more than a couple of years’ experience in our own field we too could run workshops for the things we are passionate about.
Two main points I took away from it were that the best way to become an expert is to teach the subject matter to somebody else as you very quickly find out what you need to work on. The second point being that as a professional your time isn’t free and that you should absolutely charge. (It doesn’t have to be a huge amount) By not charging its devaluing your skills and the industry you represent. Even the Joker in the 2008 film Dark Knight said it “If you’re good at something, never do it for free!”
So if you’re in Teesside (unfortunately a small percentage of my readership according to Analytics) why not come along to the next event? I certainly recommend looking up user groups in your local area, I’m sure you’ll have fun.