When I moved to Australia last year, I knew I wanted to be involved in the community side of Dynamics CRM – the open sharing of lessons learned and the sharing of knowledge that enables everyone to increase their skills and develop their career in Dynamics CRM.
In the first few months of being in the country, I got involved. I rapidly moved into a more proactive role as I saw the need for a robust framework around a User Group to keep up its growth and value for those that attended.
I continued conversation with Tony and Onika from CRMUG following attending Convergence 2013 and created a working relationship. From that start we now have 6 CRM User Group Chapters across Australia. Check them out here:
Current Dynamics CRM User Groups in Australia
Where I started
If you are interested in starting a Dynamics CRM User Group outside of the US, I would encourage you to get in touch with CRMUG and get their help in getting things setup.
I read Tribes by Seth Godin a few years ago before kicking off the Dynamics CRM User Group in Auckland New Zealand. This combined with conversations I had with Guy Riddle who was running a User Group in Sydney got me motivated. I helped lead that group for 2 years in New Zealand as well as another one that I started in Christchurch.
Choose Your User Group Platform
I have found it is very important to have a low touch platform setup to run your Dynamics CRM User Group, and the one I chose in Australia was MeetUp. This is not to say I have not tried others. I have used a full User Group CMS by a third-party, and that was a waste of time and resource. I have also used SharePoint 3 (from memory) and I have had a Portal built on top of CRM, but that ended up being a very high touch solution. In the end you need a platform that can be setup without too much effort and that is very social in the tools it provides. I have found that MeetUp meets all the needs to successfully run the mechanics of a User Group. It has tools to manage the following:
- Events with RSVP
- Auto emails reminders of upcoming events
- Links to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube
- Allows a team to run the User Group (I refer to this as the User Group Committee)
- Sponsors Area
- Name Tags
- Promotional Flyers
- Maps to venue
- Document Upload and Management
- Phone Apps
You will need to have a paid subscription for the best result.
MeetUp is easy to use, but to maximise the value from it, you really need to drill into the features that are available as they will enable you to promote your User Group and provide all the resources your CRM’ers (Members) will want access to.
Privacy on Meetup
One thing Meetup does well as it does not expose the members email addresses to anyone, the members email address is used to run the user group only, they cannot be exported or given to a third-party. Also it allows the CRM’er to choose what they get notified on. So if they feel there are more emails than they are comfortable with they can change their settings to meet their wishes.
To be continued….