Friday, February 11, 2011

Like Ripples In A Pond

... OK, it's a bit of a cheesy title, but I think it accurately captures how my friends and colleagues in the SAS user world have been escalating their desire to understand and engage in the world of social media. I've been fighting the good fight in terms of spreading this message both internally and externally for close to a year now and it's great to see so many people listening and diving right in! I’m not so arrogant as to think it’s because of me, but it sure is nice to think I may have contributed in some small way. Consequently, those ripples just keep spreading further and further.

This week, I thought I would share a few stories which unambiguously wave the flag of utilitarian social media usage in a SAS context high in the sky. These are some of the ways in which we can all benefit from engaging and networking in these spaces, especially as SAS users and supporters.

Many of you are aware that we have LinkedIn and Facebook groups which serve as rallying points for city-based SAS users. Whether you're from Halifax or Victoria, a data mining practitioner or a health-based SAS user, there's a group for you! These are fantastic resources for connecting with other SAS users with similar interests and aptitudes in your area. In recent weeks I've had a couple of interesting exchanges in the LinkedIn groups.

The Health User Group is one which is near and dear to my heart. When I started working at SAS Canada over 3 years ago, it was the first user group which I completely 'owned': I worked with an executive committee of our customers to craft a thematic agenda, identified likely attendees and presented at the event. Little did I know then how fortunate I was: that particular user group is still one of the easiest to work with and one of the most engaged. At any rate, I posed a question: was there any specific topic or theme that the LinkedIn group wanted to explore at the April 1st meeting? Much to my delight, not only was there a response, but an offer to present as well! I couldn't be more thrilled; it's exactly this type of support, dialogue and engagement which really puts the proof in the pudding in terms of the value of these spaces. It’s all about giving SAS users what they want and what they need, and the easiest way is to simply ask them. Although I haven't yet met the guest speaker in person, I’m thrilled that I now have a new enthusiastic contact willing to share with the SAS user community.

I was also fortunate enough to travel to the home of SAS in Cary, North Carolina last week. I always return extremely energized and focused on my work and this time would prove no different. I was there to meet with development teams on the topic of the burgeoning SAS Canada Community Site, the development of which I've alluded to previously in other posts. The conversation was more than stimulating, and I even managed to wriggle onto a panel discussion at this year's SAS Global Forum. The topic: leveraging social media within the user group community. Right in my sweet spot, methinks! I do hope some of you will be there to help stimulate the discussion or at the very least, point and heckle. There's still lots of time to register and to take advantage of some pretty amazing discounts... and to prepare yourselves for the (in)famous Canada Night Out. I recommend plenty of rest, lots of fluids, and visualization techniques: focus on your glass being full, and it will be, courtesy of yours truly.

Finally, allow me to share the story of a brand new SAS user who was unsure what to do with his newfound SAS Certification (by the way, there's no better time to write your certification exam then at SAS Global Forum at a 15% discount). This individual reached out to me through a private LinkedIn message and I was able to connect him with two very generous, long-time SAS users who promptly offered to mentor him in how to best leverage his certification. This is nothing short of amazing post-graduation care, and offered by members of the greater SAS community no less!

It would be remiss of me to not acknowledge that Valentine's Day falls on this upcoming Monday. If you're like me, you've already taken care of your cards, flowers, chocolates, rings, and gifts... and you're praying it's enough to please. What did I miss? What did I forget? How did I screw this up? I'm grateful to Dave Thomas of New Marketing Labs for reminding me of one of my gaps through this video. Thanks, Dave, you’ve saved Valentine’s Day.

In the coming weeks: I'll take a closer look at some of the amazing presentations and activities that I'll be attending at SAS Global Forum and I'll also shine a spotlight on the upcoming user group season: who's been secured to speak? Where? When? All in good time, my friends, all in good time.

Until then...