SharePoint is all about online engagement and collaboration. And yet, some of the most dynamic and engaging experiences related to the platform happen offline — and for free. Possibly best of all is that some are probably happening not too far from where you are. In other words, you can take advantage of meeting colleagues and sharing information, without it costing you an arm and a leg to travel and participate. It’s nice to see these growing alternatives.
SharePoint User Groups and SharePoint Saturday events are hitting their stride as active participation now involves thousands of people every year. My favorite SharePoint activity, SharePints, are a regular feature of these events.
SharePoint User Groups
Going back to the 1950s and the days of the mainframe, IT and engineering user groups have a long and proud history. So while the SharePoint community didn’t invent the user group, it certainly has embraced it. They’re generally monthly get-togethers where people present on the work they’ve done, workarounds, hard-won experience or software solutions and tools that can make people’s lives easier (or so they claim). All kinds of SharePoint people can be found at these meetings: consultants, business end-users, internal IT specialists, recruiters and power users. They’re great places to meet and learn from your community.
SharePoint Saturday Events
Starting in 2008, SharePoint communities worldwide began to host these not-for-profit events. They’re free, one-day conferences that bring together local and national SharePoint thought leaders to provide insights and experience for the betterment of the community. So far there have been 87 SharePoint Saturdays in almost as many cities. Thirteen more are scheduled to occur by July in Belgium, Abu Dhabi, Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles and the Twin Cities.
This is a regular feature of both SharePoint Saturdays and SharePoint User Groups. As the name implies, SharePint is a social time to get together and share over drinks. Some of the best networking and idea-swapping happens here. And, believe it or not, these can be free as well. Many times a software vendor or consulting firm foots the bill, or at least the first round.
Get Involved, Go Offline
SharePoint Saturdays, User Groups and SharePints are all great ways to get involved and sharpen your knowledge. They’re a unique places where SharePointers and would-be SharePointers can engage their community, get involved, expand their potential and learn. Find events and user groups in your area here.