If you’re passionate about Lync, and want to connect with others who share your interest, you might consider joining one of the Lync Users Groups in your area.  In this post, we’ll talk to Kevin Peters who has been instrumental in coordinating the formation of several Lync User Groups around the United States.

Kevin, tell us how the Lync Users Group got started?  
My colleague Adam Curry and I started a local group in my hometown of Cinncinati, Ohio, and we banded together with some other Lync SMEs like Randy Wintle and the idea just skyrocketed.    Microsoft helps us out by providing meeting space for our groups, and the Microsoft field teams participate on our sessions as well. 


How many cities are you in now?

Currently, we are in Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Silicon Valley, Atlanta, Detroit, New York, Chicago, Nashville, San Francisco and Milwaukee, and we recently surpassed 1000 members!   We are continuing to expand due to the demand from the Lync community and will be adding new cities in January, 2014.   

It's important to note that there are groups run by other Lync SMEs in other major cities as well, and your local Microsoft team can put you in touch with a group in your area.

 

Is there a cost to join the  Lync Users Group?
No, membership is free.


What goes on during a typical users group meeting?

Networking with others, usually over food & beverages.  Then we have a short intro and usually two education topics, followed by a participant survey at the end, culminating
in a prize drawing.


How are your Lync user groups different from other User Groups out there?

There are a lot of differences.  First of all, our groups are operated by community members, not by any commercial interest.   We are a non-profit and our focus is on the quality of the content and experience we deliver.   We do not allow any sales presentations in our meetings – so participants can feel comfortable attending to learn without the added pressure of being in a sales environment.  We have local contributors drawn from the US Lync community, including a number of Lync MVPs, MCMs or MCSMs, who lead or contribute to our groups on a regular basis.    

The topics we cover are decided by the community members through surveys conducted at each event.   We then coordinate experts on the topics to develop the content.   We also believe we have the best prize giveaways of any user groups out there thanks to our great sponsors!   Past giveaways have included X-Box systems, hundreds of Lync Certified Devices (headsets, gateways, phones, etc.)  Thousands of dollars in gift cards,  Windows Phones, virtual load balancers, Microsoft Surface tablets…and the list goes on.   We do have an exciting  Lync-related grand prize to be given away in January, 2014 – visit our website for more details!


What are some of the topics you’ve covered?
We have covered a wide range of topics, including Lync migration, PBX Replacement, HA & DR (High Availability & Disaster Recovery), E911, Video integration, user adoption, Lync Edge deep dive and mobility.   Our members continue to give us great content suggestions.

 

How can someone find out about groups in their area?
Visit our web page  and if there isn’t a group in your area, check with your local Microsoft team.   Hopefully other group leaders will share information about their groups in the comments section as well, so we can collectively grow the Lync community.

 

What if  you’re in an area that doesn’t have a group?   Is there a way to start a new Lync Users Group?  And what are the criteria?
We’re always looking for local SMEs in new areas to expand  Lync user groups.  To learn more about starting a group email us at board@lyncusergroup.com

 

Will there be a gathering of Lync Users Group members at the Lync Conference in Las Vegas in February, 2014?
Yes!  We are excited to be sponsoring the LyncUP event on Tuesday, February 18th during the conference.  Find out more at http://www.lyncug.com.