Microsoft Relationship and Your Dynamics CRM User Group
I have found it is important to engage with Microsoft in your local area for a couple of reasons:
- As this is a Dynamics CRM User Group it is good to be aligned with what the Microsoft Dynamics team is doing in your local market.
- Often times someone from the team will be available to come along and deliver sessions and demos from content they are provided internally from the Dynamics CRM Product team.
- They are a great source of NEWS, what is happening in the wider community of Microsoft and it allows you to build a relationship with their team.
- I have always found them a willing sponsor of all the Dynamics CRM User Groups I have run. In the past sponsorship from Microsoft has included the venue to host the User Group as well as pizza and drink. (This may need to be approved by the Dynamics Lead in the local sub.)
If they are providing the venue, Microsoft requires that a FTE is present, so you will need at least one Microsoft person to attend on the night of the User Group. Remember that any Microsoft staff involvement is voluntary, they are not paid to do this, so if they attend, just like the committee they are giving of their time for the greater good of the Dynamics community.
You should look for every opportunity to involve Microsoft in your User Group, they are the primary sponsor and should be recognized as such. Try and mix it up a bit and get a variety of Microsoft staff along to your User Group.
Setting up the Committee or Council for Your User Group
When I first started looking at running a User Group I looked at what others were doing in other technology areas. What I found is many User Groups are setup by one person that has a passion for the technology area. While it is new and fresh it can run well, but never forget that “winter is coming” – meaning that inevitably as winter comes the numbers drop off and/or the organiser gets sick. At this point people attending the group do not find as much value, or more to the point they are frustrated when they turn up to find a note on the door saying the event is cancelled for whatever reason.
To address this I find it best to setup a committee to create some stability to the User Group. After setting up the MeetUp site so people can find it, the next thing is to invite a representative from all the Microsoft Dynamics Partners in your area to be part of the User Group. I find it is best to be inclusive and let these people bring their ideas and contribution to the event. (In a later post I will outline the code of conduct for Partners, ISV’s and Recruiters who will want to get involved) Apart from the Microsoft and CRMUG representative you should look at forming a committee of about 8 people for best results. The CRMUG Committee’s role is to facilitate successful User Groups that promote an environment of community, sharing and learning around a common topic: Microsoft Dynamics CRM. In my next post I will go into details of the roles but here they are in the meantime:
- Membership Manager
- Customer Voice/ISV Manager
- The Show Manager
- Event Manager
- Just 1 Tip Manager
- Photo Manager
- Video Manager
At the moment I am considering adding another role called the Social Manager, to date I have not defined this but I am planning for it as I see there is a gap.
Naturally some of these roles can be combined if people want to take on more responsibility.