We run 12 quarterly B2B user groups in NA, UK and AUS/NZ. Attendance runs 80-120 “partners” (our customers) per event (more info). Attendance is free, we provide product training and thought leadership content, and several vendors attend each meeting. Meetings are facilitated by two volunteer partners at each venue with corporate oversight and logistical support.
I don’t own these events but work closely with those who do. We’ve helped our geographic coverage by alternating meetings in some regions between cities (e.g. Chicago and Minneapolis). We take everyone to dinner the night before the meeting, though we’re experimenting with moving to a happy hour following the meeting.
Facilitator selection is key both in terms of input, culture and execution. (We also run a 500+ company peer group organization that helps with facilitator skills, promotion, and program alignment.) Establishing a facilitator charter that defines “what good looks like” helps everyone understand expectations going into a meeting and measure success after the meeting. We are discussing how to involve facilitators in our other programs and events to strengthen how they can integrate other information to the user group setting. We also produce product and thought leadership conferences each year.
Our user group attendee is the owner of a SMB business who uses our software and services and/or a developing leader in an organization (sales, service, marketing, admin).