INETA is always asking what they can do to better serve the user groups… well, as a user group leader, here’s my suggestion:
Advertising! Small to medium sized groups have little or NO budget for advertising, and it’s incredible how many times I meet people in the developer community that have no idea a local user group even exists. This is NOT due to a lack of effort on our part.
So it comes down to advertising… specifically, run a monthly ad in the main .NET related mags, such as CoDe, MSDN, Visual Studio & ASP.NET Pro, that lists all the appearances of speaker bureau members for that month. These speakers are typically scheduled far enough in advance to make the ad timely. (After all, ads can be delivered later than content.)
What this would accomplish is getting INETA some exposure and getting the User Groups some exposure. A monthly ad would drive people to the INETA website and their local user group. Fact is, most folks who visit the INETA website are already in a user group. So advertising the appearances there is not very effective. By listing the upcoming speaker appearances, all participating User Groups will get mentioned 3-4 times per year in magazines that claim to cater to user groups. (I say that because they send our groups free magazines.)
Why is that last point relevant? Because, if ASP.NET Pro and CoDe Magazine (for example) really want to help User Groups, they’ll cut INETA a deal on the ad rate.
Am I totally off on this? Tell me what you think…