Friday, October 29, 2010

New Friends and A Growing Community: The CSUG Experience

How do I sum up the experiences I've just had succinctly? Well, those of you who are regular readers know that I am rarely succinct. So I suppose I'll just let it all out, as I normally do.

I'm sitting at the Calgary airport waiting to board a flight to head back to Toronto. These two Alberta-based meetings were truly excellent in terms of energy and engagement. For the sake of doing both justice, I'll speak to each of them in individual posts. Let's start in Calgary, shall we?

Around 30 people attended the meeting on Tuesday at the SAS offices in Calgary. On the logistics side, I need to acknowledge a very important person in my world: Ms. Jessica Saviskoff. Jess always goes above and beyond in terms finding outstanding venues and providing amazing support through logistics and registration. A cheese plate at a user group: really? AMAZING. The users notice, comment and appreciate these touches.

The meeting itself featured my good friend and SAS legend Marje Fecht. Marje is a real dynamo. Her presentation skills are second to none, and her SAS knowledge is beyond extensive. Nowhere was this more visible than in the CSUG meeting itself: questions were flying, white boards were being written upon and the room was buzzing!!! In fact, the demand for Marje's talks was so great than she connected immediately with 2 individuals who required the presentations for projects they were working on at that time. She was more than happy to oblige! Her talks - on optimizing SAS coding and bridging the gap for programmers struggling with Enterprise Guide - will be posted today here. Beyond the presentations, the success of Marje's talks was rivalled only by the tremendous engagement on the user side.

One of my goals in building, supporting and connecting the SAS user community across the country is to engage people who haven't been aware of the richness and value of connecting in our world. Perhaps this is because they're new SAS users, or perhaps it's because they didn't have any insight into the options that were available. I was very pleased that two of these individuals chose to help support the Calgary community by joining the executive committee. Thanks, Mussie and Malcolm!!! We had a wonderful lunch conversation about SAS, how we can support SAS users in Calgary through social media, and much more. I can't wait to get rolling with you gentlemen on planning the next meeting.

My final thoughts on Calgary: what wonderful engagement through social media. I have a new friend, Asif, who began following me through Twitter in mid-meeting! He's already made some suggestions around content for the next meeting, and we'll certainly dialogue about it further. The CSUG LinkedIn group has seen a jump in members, and I'm excited to start delivering great content to them. This is the true value and power of social media in my opinion. We can now carry on our conversation beyond the 2 meetings a year. We can support each other, help each other grow professionally and really start to build each SAS users personal 'brand'. And what a valuable brand it is!

Coming up this evening: my thoughts on the Edmonton meeting. Perhaps I'll even post some pictures from my day-trip to Banff afterwards: would you guys like to see what a wild herd of about 150 elk can do to a golf course? I'd be happy to share it with you.

More this evening after I touchdown in Toronto, but for now, see you soon Alberta!

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