Do you participate in a User Group?

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Participating in a User Group may be one of the most rewarding if not more fun things you can do with your treasured must-have device. One can learn so much about their device through online forums all over the net, but it is another thing to be able to learn about these technologies in person with a live human being!

Last night, I held my November meeting, and we went over the newest devices that had been released since our September meeting. A lot of questions were raised with regards to capabilities, how to choose between Smartphone and Pocket PC, the differences between carriers (and their rates!), etc. We exchanged a lot of experiences we had that perhaps couldn't be found on an online forum. Also I got the chance to show-off my latest acquisitions to the group (i.e. T-Mobile Dash, Zune, among other things I'm planning to show and tell here!) which includes my tricked out HTC Universal that not too many get to actually see and get their hands on.

On occasion, I may invite a local developer, vendor, or Microsoft representative, to show the group a new technology that they can use. Also I may have subject themed nights - one of our popular themes would be GPS in which the whole night is spent demoing and reviewing GPS solutions and one is given away. Or have a "Mobile Survivor" night where we divide attendees into groups to perform tasks on their devices (i.e. file beaming relay) to win prizes. A couple of other popular themes are "Must-have Applications," or "Best Personal Information Management" utility show-off, even a "Pimp My Device" show-off!

Last night we actually had a "Swap Meet" theme in which members parted with, or bartered for, devices and software no longer being used by their owner and needing a new home! Although not everything found a new home, the items up for grabs sure made for some great conversation pieces! Like an iPAQ 4700 that no longer charges, or an iPAQ 5500 in which the wireless software component was left out of the ROM! How about seeing an HP Jornada, a Sharp Mobilion, and an original PalmPilot as some of the items available!

Above all that, what I have found to be the most valuable result out of these meeting nights (as have our members) is the social networking that goes on during the breaks and in between the demos and discussions. I have seen a couple of good business relationships come out of just one chance meeting!

User Groups can be found not just in the US, but around the world. Some meet regularly, and some need to meet. You can find a listing of them in the back pages of Smartphone & Pocket PC Magazine as well as on the web site at: http://www.smartphonemag.com/_top/User_Groups.asp

Great post Rey. User groups are lots of fun, interesting, and a great way to meet people you wouldn't normally meet.

If there is no active users group in your area, you can always start one. E-mail me with your contact information, and I'll make sure it gets put in our magazine or online.

hal [at] thaddeus [dot] com
Publisher Smartphone & Pocket PC magazine

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