Today, INETA is officially two years old!
It is hard to believe that INETA is two years old this month. When we launched INETA in February of 2002, .NET was fairly new and we came to the scene with about 40 user groups in our association. Today, we have close to 500 user groups and more than 170,000 members from all over the world that are part of INETA! Our growth is more than anyone ever imagined and outstanding as it is, it is also one of the most difficult things in managing INETA. More growth means more speakers, more support and more volunteers needed.
To me, one of the great things about INETA is that we are a volunteer organization at every level. User groups leaders are volunteers, INETA committee members are volunteers, INETA committee leaders are volunteers, INETA regional leaders are volunteers, INETA board members are volunteers and even the INETA Executive Director position is a volunteer position. We at INETA have always aimed to run INETA much in the way user groups are run, depending heavily on our volunteers, word of mouth and community spirit which is so prevalent in the .NET community.
In this last year, INETA has accomplished a lot. We are still 100% focused on our original mission of helping support and nurture the local user group. We understand this mission since INETA’s volunteers primarily compromises of the user group leaders themselves (I, myself, am from the St. Louis .NET User Group). The main support activities we find that user groups need include: sending top-name speakers to their cities, food for some of their meetings, giveaways, contact with Microsoft and other vendors, the ability to communicate and share best practices with their peers who are in other cities, a place to go to get great presentation content, and to have the knowledge that they are part of a larger community and that they are not by themselves in accomplishing their endeavors.
INETA in 2004 will continue on with this same mission with a collection of new endeavors. We will continue to support user groups as we have done in the last two years with the INETA Speakers Bureau, food, content and bringing user group leaders together. Though, we also have a lot new things planned for 2004 as well.
We have been working with Microsoft in bringing more Microsoft product-team based user group tours to the user groups of the world. INETA recently participated with the ASP.NET Roadshow, which was focused on ASP.NET Whidbey, and was hugely successful. We will continue to bring you additional roadshows throughout 2004.
We are going to expand upon the content repository. This is one area that we ask for everyone’s help. The content repository on the INETA website will only grow if we all feed in presentations that we do at our local meetings into the system. By giving our presentations to the INETA content repository, we will have a good selection to share with everyone.
We are going to be providing user groups the possibility of doing Microsoft Webcasts for one of their meetings to promote to the world what your user group is all about. We are hoping to have an INETA User Group Webcast Challenge focused around this idea.
We are going to continue to grow and enhance our website. There is a tremendous amount of new functionally being planned for the INETA website to make it easier for volunteers to contribute and for user groups to find the information they need fast.
We are going to strive to have better communication with all of the user group leaders, speakers and members of INETA with more outreach and more one-to-one conversations.
We are going to try and have strong presences at events such as TechEd 2004 and other events where we feel we can make a lasting impact upon the community.
We are going to actively seek out and bring on more volunteers in powerful and decision-making positions within INETA. As you are aware, INETA runs only because of the volunteers that work to make INETA happen. Yes, we have a lot of fun together, but there is work involved as well. We have a lot of projects to accomplish and need people to help run these projects for us.
We are going to continue our explosive international expansion. INETA LATAM was the fastest growing international region in INETA in 2003 and we are working on heavily expanding our presence in Europe and Asia as well.
One of our goals has always been to show the rest of the world the importance of community in making technology happen and the pivotal nature in which the user group plays in this community. So far, we have been rather successful and we all have only you all to thank for this.
I personally want to thank all the volunteers that make INETA happen. INETA is now one of the largest developer organizations in the world and it really wouldn’t even exist if it wasn’t for your help.