This past weekend Microsoft and O’Reilly Media hosted the first (hopefully annual) Southeast User Group Leadership Summit at Microsoft’s Alpharetta, GA office. SEUGLS as we called it was designed to pull together the leaders of technology user groups around the southeast and allow them to brainstorm, network, and have fun. I was inspired to plant the seeds for this event from a similar event in the Northeast.

O’Reilly was a huge supporter of this event, sending lots of books to give away. Marsee Henon, manager of the User Group and Professional Associations program at O'Reilly Media, even made the trek down to Atlanta and helped out immensely!

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There were quite a wide variety of tech groups represented. They included Microsoft groups but also many others like Ruby, PHP, Perl, Linux, Mac, and more. Many groups were from Atlanta, but we got a lot from Alabama & Tennessee, and even some from the Carolinas. The full list is at http://seugls2009.pbworks.com/User-Groups-Attending

The event kicked off with an engaging conversation starter activity based on the Retail Alphabet Game by Joey Katzen. I also scored some cool Microsoft lunchbox coolers for everyone. Then we solicited topics from the leaders, and had breakout sessions to discuss. At the end of each hour of breakouts, each group gave a summary to the others of their conclusions, salient points and next steps.

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Putting the notes and summaries of the conversations on the wiki ensures that the information continues to add value to the leader of the groups. The wiki is at http://seugls2009.pbworks.com/ and hopefully will continue to be updated by this community of user group leaders.

The event concluded with a catered dinner, XBOX gaming, time on a Microsoft Surface table, and even Jenga!

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Many, many thanks to the “organizing committee” including Marsee, Chris Spruck, Robert Cain, Cheyenne Throckmorton and Brendon Schwartz.

Photos are available via Flickr at http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=seugls&s=rec

For me personally, this was a very energizing event. Everyone was passionate about running their groups, really shared their best practices, and had some eye opening realizations.It seemed to me to allow folks to forge some great connections. I’m hopeful that the community will want to do this event again next year!