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The Chicago Computer Society -- Users Helping Users

1995 Midwest Regional Conference

Welcome To APCUG: New Members Club

Moderated by Rollie Cole, APCUG Board of Directors, Detroit Area Network Users Group -- (Workshop Description)

(Also see: APCUG Primer: How APCUG Can Help Your User Group )

Copyright 1994, 1995, Association of Personal Computer User Groups. All Rights Reserved.

Speaker: Roland J. Cole, Detroit Area Network Users Group. The title has been changed from year to year, but the content remains the same and in fact, the handout I gave you has this year's title, last year's outline, and two years ago conference sessions, part to make a point, and even older founder principles on the back. This really is kind of going through what it is we your elected officials think we're about on your behalf and how you might get more out of us and the organization. So the title last year was this and Di wanted to change the title, and I said fine, but I'm not going to change my slides.

Ash Nallawalla next door asked us to hold it down and that is really just a challenge, so please just break in with your questions at any time, heckling, good jokes, bad jokes, whatever. This material is useful to go through but I've done it a lot so new jokes help keep it going.

APCUG from the point of view of a user group, should be seen as a bundle of opportunities and we're going to zip through the opportunities first. Part, we don't mean to do it this way, but there is an intro disk and all that sort of thing, but people have the sense of the secret handshake, it's the way the Internet works, you know there are people out there who will answer every question you have, but you have to know enough to know what the question is. So we're going to run through some stuff so that you'll know enough to ask the questions about what's there and what can be done. So I'm just going to run through a litany of stuff. Stop me if you have any questions about any of them.

One of the things that we love editors, think in some ways they may be the most unsung and certainly very, very important function of each individual user group and want the organization to do what it could to help editors get out newsletters or at least fill them up. The three different things, all of which are run through GLOBALNET, the APCUG BBS we'll talk more about later, but we encourage people to upload and then download entire newsletters. Ideally you take out the local stuff like where and when you meet, but you put in all the articles you wrote, all the articles you got from somebody else's newsletter and so forth in ASCII text up in the editor's area up on the BBS and then the next editor can download it and pick and choose out of it the gems to republish. I remember I was president of the Seattle Group in another age far, far ago, but we had this one guy who is actually the non profit partner for Price Waterhouse located out in Seattle because he can live anywhere he wanted and he was all his life a frustrated engineer hacker, so he wrote these wonderful articles on twiddling with the keyboard interrupts and that sort of thing. We didn't have this mechanism and even so, people were retyping those all over the country, so if some of you remember John Hairtsfeldt, there will be some very early articles, this would be early 80's that got reprinted. Well, we wanted to facilitate that process, particularly good articles.

The other thing, and there's sign up sheets and more details is the industry commentary series. One thing about working with all of these vendors and stuff, we'd like them to help us help you and we persuaded, usually their PR departments to get an article written by an industry big wig, just for user groups. So they usually talk about user groups, their view of users and so forth, and those articles are copyright APCUG for use only in user group newsletters. We in fact had some nasty comments with the Atlanta papers about reprinting one of them without our permission and in violation of the guidelines. We do have articles from Alan Ashton, Paul Brainerd, and Gordon Eubanks and Bill Gates. Bob Sanborn, the guy whose name is on the sign out there, but is not me, is actually the guy who works this. Your group has to sign up. You have to have a written signature from some official person agreeing to abide by the rules and then you are given access to the area where you can download the old ones which are written to still be timely and then new ones as we get them.

Also, if you run across industry luminaries that you would like to see articles by, you let Bob know and he tries to persuade their PR departments to give us an article. Another way to sort of juice up your newsletter with ready made articles written for roughly the level of the amount of space that most newsletters have to fill. We want to do more along these lines, so if you have ideas of things that would be helpful. We also have the APCUG logo, some people like to put in member of APCUG in their newsletter, if nothing else it fills up a couple column inches. I'm now editing two or three newsletters, I like to get the last four pages set forever, so you don't have to tweak them ever again, and that adds that with a cute little design. Anyway it's up there in CDR and TIF and EPS and a few different formats.

There are other things like that, let us know and we'll see what we can do, or better yet, volunteer to do one, and put it up there. The question about "why don't you guys do" is always turned around to are you volunteering to do it?

Ok, new area, the other thing is to continue the dialogue that we have here and throughout the year, so we do it on GLOBALNET and then in these roundtable sessions is to get peer to peer messaging, talking, conferencing, that's very useful to have editors talk to editors; presidents to presidents and so forth. We do that both through Comdex and then there are these conference areas on GLOBALNET and in fact there are chat times, times when you sort of type at each other together and those are posted in here somewhere. It's like Tuesdays at 7:00 and Wednesdays at 7:00. In fact, the board of directors meet Sundays at 8:00 Eastern which is why you may not be able to get on during that time. There are several different of those and people are encouraged if you have some cross cutting thing like regional conference coordinators or something want to have a conference, you talk to Harold and he can set up an area for you and so forth.

As I mentioned, now these times may have changed, as I said, I used the same slides year after year, but this is the concept of when those people have the online chat times. In the mean time you can post questions in those areas and get replies or make replies kind of on the two/three day lag basis.

GLOBALNET also has a set of things and some of which you can get while you're here in paper or on disk. One the vendor contact files, also called the vendor database, last count that had several hundred contacts that we've been given by vendors as the contact for user groups. Sometimes a little bitty company it's the president, other companies it's the PRs others it's the tech support or whatever. But there is a name, phone number and mailing address, electronic, whatever we could get on that company. So if you want review copies or presentation or something, particularly by member of the smaller groups, smaller companies, check the vendor contact files. It's downloadable, a .ZIP file.

Speaker: Roy Jensen, Golden Gate Computer Society I was in one of the recent roundtables and they handed out the diskettes of that very thing you're talking about. It's 1,600 and this year they've changed over from a Clarion DB format to a Paradox DB format so you can import it and actually access the data. It's very good.

Speaker: Roland J. Cole, Detroit Area Network Users Group Thank you, continuous improvement. We also have encouraged people to put up their charters, constitutions and by laws if you are involved in setting those up or redoing them. Lots of groups are going from informal to formal. There may be some models up there for you. Similarly, editor's guidelines, review guidelines, style sheets, that sort of thing, product review guidelines. We encourage people, if you develop something like that to make a copy and load it up on GLOBALNET or bring it to Fall or Spring Comdex to share. People are genuinely appreciative, it can be very helpful. Job descriptions for individual folks. What does a membership director do, what's a reasonable hunk of tasks to assign to an individual. It might be helpful if you have new member handbooks. We'd love to see those. The other thing we have, several of the vendors have put together handbooks on how to start and conduct a user group and so forth. Some of us have been involved one way or another, they wanted a page I wrote, wanted thousands of pages Judy wrote, but that's ok. People like Borland quite often have a notebook or something they will send you on advise they've gathered on doing user groups. We do transcribe these things to prove we do that. This session several years ago, so you can get the detailed transcript even the roundtables that you couldn't attend or the ones you could attend and see your name in print.

We are in one of the roundtables. The IBM things are workshops and training sessions. I don't know if you noticed, and I wasn't over there in the morning, but it wasn't just IBM, Lotus came in to do SmartSuite and Notes and the Microsoft people, in their suite are actually doing some things with their product managers. We had a couple years ago conducted an experiment with this, we have a lady from Corel kind of use Corel to add art to your newsletter, that kind of stuff. Then we encourage people, sometimes formally, sometimes informally to sort of stand up and say I'm particularly interested in the use of Corel Ventura to do five column tabloids, how about having a group meet after the IBM luncheon and encourage people to kind of gather like that. We do have technology briefings which are the meals you're going to get throughout the rest of the week are usually used by the firms not to push their latest product, but to give you some more background in where they're going so you can guess what arrange of products are going to be like.

For instance, Corel will actually hear from their CEO and he's not going to talk about the latest feature, he maybe would but he won't. Some things are more or less product briefings and vendor meetings. Some years we have people from the media actually, I guess we're not doing it this year, but Monday morning session has been a number of years the PC World Editors talking about what they found on the floor on Sunday that we might want to watch on Monday though Friday so they come and give us hot tips from their advanced look at the floor.

We have established with Interface that valid/authentic user group newsletters count as press for Interface Press credentials and if you haven't been here before, that opens all kinds of doors and more attention from people in the booths and invitations to a lot more parties or the ability to crash parties without invitation. Makes you look like you're press.

That's actually one of the things on one of the PR consultants puts out a list that she sends to press people. So it's with a one year lag so you have to be on the press this year to get the list next year. Ask around, people have the list and sometimes they are happy to tell you. This was a negotiated thing and then we always give a little lesson and ask people to pretend you really are a journalist for the, we've had people and this is not supposed to be, the incident that came up one year was that you have to turn in a copy of your newsletter to get press credentials and if you do it in advance you send it in and they send you back something. You can still do it here if you have a copy of a newsletter and ideally a business card showing you as editor or whatever and then a ... and they will still give you press credentials even if you didn't sign up in advance, but one guy said wait a minute, I need those back to go sell adds on the floor and we got real flack from that. It's not supposed, you're supposed to be marketed too although people take the opportunity but please be quiet and don't kind of announce in a loud voice in the Interface session that's what you're about. People have been pretty good and they've been pretty good and it is part of their formal program. If you ask for how do you apply for press credentials listed among the list of editors and magazines is editors of, there is some key word that I don't remember at the moment, user group publications.

Then there is the informal stuff. Sometimes the best insights and tips or something is walking with someone from a meeting to Comdex and so forth. There will be a session following this one on Regional User Groups. It's been a way to kind of extend all of this good mingling to groups that can't make it all the way to Las Vegas or Atlanta, and there is now a regular one in the middle of the country that shifts around a little bit, there's a regular one in Florida, in fact, there is a Florida Association of User Groups sort of modeled on APCUG that's itself an associate member of APCUG. There's one in New York City that kind of does the New England region although it is New York City, they call it Intergalactic. There's one in Northern California, one in Southern California and just started one in the Pacific Northwest called the Raincoast Regional Conference. If you're interested in doing one, there's been some attempts to put one together say in the Oklahoma/North Texas/Missouri area. We can provide mailing lists and even a little bit of money to help support those things and help put them together.

We do have the user group locator, you'll hear more about that at the Summit Meeting, but Dave Hoffman's labor of love supported by WordPerfect, Symantec and others. There is a 914 area code number that anyone in the world can call and find a list that we know about of user groups in their area code or zip code or whatever. In fact, if you do what Dave begs and pleads with you to do, they will get the message about your group in your voice or your president's voice with appropriate regional accent and not Dave Hoffman's New York accent.

Then one of the things we do to promote this and read your proceedings, this one you don't have to read before you go home, after you go home, except you may want to talk to people. We published success stories. We did this kind of event and it brought in thousands of new members or made the blind see or the lame walk or whatever, and there are some people there that you might contact and see how you might try to do the same thing in your area.

We do have a quarterly publication. If you haven't been seeing it yet, it tends to be user group to user group, not user to user. Talks about APCUG stuff, lists the names of the directors and advisors and that sort of thing. Comes out roughly quarterly, it's getting better. I mentioned that the proceedings are available, the eternal record of this sort of event. In fact, sort of every other year we run a session on this. It turns out that user groups, thanks to Capital PC's months and months of work, are actually able to qualify for 501(c)(3) status for the U.S. But all kinds of benefits flow. You can get the very cheap postage, your volunteers can deduct their out of pocket expenses, contributions to your group become tax deductible to the donor, but you have to go through all kinds of hoops to get the IRS to send you a letter saying yes you are a scientific, educational or charitable institution. We have put together a kit based on some stuff from Apple and some stuff from Capital PC and so forth on how to do that. How to fill out the form, what to say, what to emphasize, that sort of thing. Those are available from Maralyn Henry our secretary. It is a wad of material and it's slightly out of date, the tax code is eternal but also eternally changing. So you need to take it as a starting point and then update it. For instance, they now absolutely insist on three key provisions that must be in your articles and your well advised to also put them in your by laws because when you submit the articles and by laws, the articles go to one bureaucrat and the by laws go to another and that kind of tip is in here on how to do it. As I say, we conduct an entire roundtable on what a good thing that is and why you might want to consider doing it. Some groups will employ only groups, sometimes single product groups will probably not qualify, but most of the rest can.

We also have an insurance program. Only in the sense that a few years ago groups were getting big enough and had enough equipment and so forth or were meeting in public facilities where if they read their fine print on whatever arrangement they had, they were liable for all the accidents even if the public facility was at fault. User groups could not get insurance because the insurance companies didn't know what a user group was and didn't know what category to put them in. So we worked very hard with a couple of insurance agents and finally one, to get a program that they will offer for user groups at a set rate, a few hundred dollars and then goes up depending on how much equipment and how many people and so forth. We get no kick backs from that, it's meant to be a bottom line. Since then the rest of the insurance industry has discovered user groups and you might be able to get three or four quotes but this is one of them, it's Powell, Walton, Millard I think in Lexington, Kentucky, but if you're shopping around for insurance for your insurance group, get a quote from Lee as well as from the others so you can compare or you can argue with your local agent by saying, see, those guys will do it and they'll only charge me $300, maybe you should go back and work with your insurance companies. Anyway, it's meant to be a bottom line alternative for you to consider.

We also conduct an entire session sometimes on what I call the Tale of Woe, taxes, accounting, insurance and liability, and one of the things we come out recommending is you probably do want to think about insurance.

We also sort of as your representatives have worked with a number of vendors to set up vendor user group support programs. How we get the 1,600 names in part, to contact companies who haven't thought of it before and they say well, we'll appoint X and they start working with X on all the things they might do. In fact, at Spring Comdex we have an Interface presentation, they like user groups a lot more at Spring than at Fall because they want more attendance and here they've got plenty of attendance. Anyway, we actually conduct an Interface session telling the new companies how to set up user group support programs and how to set them up at various levels. You don't have to be in Microsoft and deal with 500 user groups. You can be a little company with a very selective program or you can do little bits of stuff for many, many user groups and we sort of go through the alternatives, sort of free consulting to them because it's good for us. There are now several different companies to do that on a commercial basis and they exist along with us. We do it for free where we can, and the commercial companies do it for pay as well. User groups are in now, but the pendulum swings back and forth and we're hoping to plant some seeds so it will stay there.

We do have a survey of user group demographics, it's now several years out of date. It's been very useful at the time because it showed that all of us are sort of the representatives of all else. We're the either senior professionals in our groups or we're owners of small businesses, home or office, so collectively we represent a lot of buying power. That survey is still available. Lotus was one of the sponsors and they still have copies. It talks about how many people have 286s and stuff so it's out of date, but it puts a floor under commercial liability and may be useful in part as a model. You take the survey questions, redo them to your group and you'll have a body of material you can use to persuade people to advertise in your newsletter, persuade people to come and make presentations so it continues to be useful even though the information is out of date.

Some vendors over time, like the magazines and so forth, have offered discounts to members of APCUG user groups. Our focus is not on the individual member. So we haven't actively gone after those things but we've tried to accept them and pass them on. Safeware Company I think offers insurance for computers in your home, sort of an add on to your computer to add onto your homeowners and there is a discount for members of APCUG. As we get news of those things we put them in the reports. Someone really wanted to be a vigorous volunteer in soliciting those, that would be fine. We have people sort of volunteer from time to time and then find out real work is involved and we don't hear from them again and those of us who are in already are not going to do it we've got plenty of other stuff to do.

Similarly on group buy kind of things. We'll serve as a forum sometimes for things like projection plates or something, still several thousand dollars and you need one per group so you need to bunch groups to get a group buy. Here again, we are sort of a passive facilitator. You can use the BBS if you're looking for something like that, post the question, see if you can get a number of groups and then go negotiate on the basis of ten groups, each want to buy this or something. Once again, if someone wants to step forward and really get into that, we'd certainly be a receptive base, but we're not very active in it now.

The GLOBALNET BBS is an association of shareware distributors member. We get the disks directly from the shareware authors and put them in our GLOBALNET so you can upload and download. Primarily not meant to be for individuals, but for your BBS to tap into and get our stuff if you are not yourself an ASP site. Here again, that runs, the ones that do it, we've had some trouble over the years, you get 40 disks a month, loading them in and whatever, but there are some there and some continue to work and your BBS operators may want to tap in just for that reason.

That's sort of all the benefits and services offered just to give you enough information so you now know some questions to ask. Find the people with the targets and ask your questions. Now I'd like to go a little bit into the background of APCUG. Some people sort of read the benefits and say that's a great deal and then some sense of the beast that they've joined.

We're international, that's why it says association rather than national association or whatever. We didn't like IAPCUG so it doesn't say International. It is non profit, we are a 501(c)(3). Jerry and I got the status through. We are incorporated in Washington D.C. We are a corporation of independent user groups. Here again, this is out of date but the thought remains the same, I think we have four bullets now, here is our mission, the communications among and between the user groups, APCUG's a facilitator and then gets out of the way. Assists the user groups in the fulfillment of their educational missions and activities and what we might call their charitable. We'll talk about that a bit more in a minute, and facilitate communication between the user group and the industry. When we put this together, the big groups were very concerned that we're trying to jump in between a BCS and Lotus or something, and we're no fools, we don't want to get between two big rocks crashing together.

Similarly, for the little ones, if we can facilitate that's great, but our announced posture is to kind of make the introduction and then let them go on the date together. Get out of the way. We continue to be vigilant and seek comments on when we're interfering in that process. What that means also is we are not a user group. We have individuals try to send us checks. We send them back. User groups are members not individuals. We do not provide services to individual members. We try to focus on the services for user groups as we sell this thing like the insurance, we'll pass through that but our focus is not on getting good deals for the members of APCUG, it's for the getting services and benefits for the user groups themselves.

This one was quite controversial when we were formed. We're not a lobbying group. If you want a statement on U.S. FCC policy or on what the international tax laws on the treatment of passive income for software publishers or something, we're not it. We're not going to do it. The board has changed over the years, but I think we've managed to persuade all nine of us at a time, we'll sort of vote no on the request to do that. There is some language in the articles and by laws that implies that if 27 groups sign a petition saying we want the FCC rules to read this way, we'll pass that on passively. Several people have pressed us to be vigorous advocates to the government on particular positions and we won't do it.

We do run a roundtable, we did run a roundtable on how you can do it, and on the circumstances, sometimes an individual user group or a collection of user groups can take an active role in a public policy dispute, federal, state or local and be very effective and we have some training advise on that, but APCUG itself will not do that. The quickie is don't do it unless it is something directly related to your organization as a user group and don't do it unless you have a 90% or better consensus. And then once you do it there are ways to do it so you don't jeopardize your tax status and all that sort of thing. Basically, we won't do that but we are happy to help you guys do that.

Another one that has come up, we're not a government or an overseer. We're a servant, a slave, not a master. We've had people ask us to play judge. Tell that user group to stop doing what it's doing. Issue a ruling that our president is acting contrary to the spirit of user groupdom. We say, no, no, no, that's not our role. You wouldn't ask your grocer to intervene in a family dispute, we provide goods and services hopefully on a more than commercial basis, but not as your government, as your service organization. As I say, we keep getting asked, we keep saying no. Hope we do that forever.

A little bit on the mechanics. I remember attending a Microsoft retreat where every session started with an organization chart of that part of the organization. It was incredibly dull. So I'll zip through this real fast. There are nine directors elected for three year terms. One third each time. There are three running this time you've heard if you were at the annual meeting. Day to day is a little bit of a misnomer, might make it week to week, month to month. Once the policies are set there are activities to be carried out like the setting up and running of this and the board of directors is charged with doing that. Then beyond that the idea was that there was a list of ten activities or types of activities in the articles that APCUG was cleared to carry out. The board was cleared to run the operations to carry them out. If there are other things to be done, or one of those ten was to be stopped, that should originate sort of the idea like the house of representatives in the U.S. where all tax laws must originate in the house or representatives sort of any change in those ten activities should originate with the board of user group advisors who were designed to be the eyes and ears, the people watching and listening to the user groups about changes and policies. So changes to the by laws, changes to the major new activities and so forth run through the advisors and get their approval and they become yet another set of people you can talk to about how to get more out of APCUG and so forth. Seven or eight from year to year of those are elected each year.

Then there is each member club has what we call a user group representative. That is usually the president, but not always. That person is the one who signs the ballot and that sort of thing on the very few items like directors and advisors that we have a formal vote and when we issue invitations to various events, if the vendor says he can only afford one per group or two or whatever, it goes user group advisor, president, editor usually. One event where editor has high priority. So that is an official role and when you apply we ask you to sign up someone in that position. Most of you have already been through this but just to reinforce or if we have other groups that are interested, they don't have to be a formal 501(c)(3), a lot of these aren't even formally incorporated, but they have to be organized not principally for profit. Need to be independent, sort of the standard is that one of us could join them. Minimum of 50 individual members and so forth. That's in the handouts.

We do have some very large groups, Boeing Computer Society, for instance, has some 3,000 members. Probably no one in this room could join because you have to be a Boeing employee and if you retire from Boeing and don't go to work for someone else, you can stay in the group, but once you let your membership lapse, you can't get back in. But they are a very active group and do some very interesting things. They are an associate member and that's sort of the concept. We vote on so few things that for the most part, it doesn't matter very much.

Joining, we do want some evidence that it is a group decision, not someone with the checkbook. You fill out the registration form and send in your membership fee and you're part of the group. With that, I'm done with the organizational stuff. That's sort of the APCUG 101. If we have questions or comments, otherwise class you get out early. We're here to listen and answer what we can.

Speaker: Joe Lebovitz, Palmia Computer Group We've been a member of APCUG for about a year or so and one the things we wanted to ask you about was the tax free status. We attempted to organize that in our club. We only have about 50 members and it is expensive to go through the process, but eventually once you go through it it can cost about $1,000 to get your tax exempt status. I was wondering now that APCUG has tax exempt status, is there any reason why we couldn't utilize the tax exempt status of APCUG to receive donations to our club?

Speaker: Roland J. Cole, Detroit Area Network Users Group Yes, there is a reason. A couple things first. It can be an expensive process particularly if you have paid professional advice throughout. Quite often, easier in larger groups, I realized have an accountant or a lawyer who will do it for the publicity benefits for all the other people, so you get what would otherwise be an expenditure for free and you do have to fill out a bunch of forms and be around and answer questions and they want three years of financial data. It's not for the, it's a substantial benefit, but it has substantial cost.

It has to do with the structure of the way APCUG, there are some benefits that your club can extract from APCUG's tax status. For instance, expenses that you people incur to come to APCUG events, particularly as the user group representative or to attend them or so forth, or activities and furtherance of our non profit purposes and those are the out of pocket costs that are tax deductible to whoever pays them. It's in furtherance, it may be depending upon the individual tax situation, but for those people I've got to say that it's the disclaimer, so you can get tax discounts that way. Donations though that come in to us and are thus tax deductible to the donor have to be used for our direct purposes or passed to another 501(c)(3) organization. So if you yourself are not one, cannot act as a front for money, the IRS, it's one of the things they watch out for is getting donations to the non profit then go on to a not non profit organization. So we can't except the donation and pass it on.

Donations to the BBS that facilitates and helps your newsletter and all that, you do benefit in that way, but we can't pass on donations of money or goods or whatever to a group that is not itself also a 501(c)(3), it would jeopardize our tax status.

The $1,000 or so can sometimes be held down if you use the kit and if you talk to someone in another club who has done some of this. But yes, if you have to pay for it it can be an expensive process.

I have a few tax kits and if you leave your name and address and so forth with Maralyn Henry, she will send you one. As you may have heard at the annual meeting and throughout, we've participated with Ziff Davis in an activity to really encourage and support groups that want to do charitable activities. Assemble computers to give to people, assemble aides to the disabled, all that sort of thing. We've prepared a guide on groups that you can work with. We've prepared some literature on the success stories in doing that and there is a lot of support in doing that in helping your group get involved in a charitable activity.

One of my groups, for instance, set up and maintains the local network for the local Ronald McDonald House. Others are doing much greater and glorious things, anyway we have this handout on that. We have a handout on the industry commentary series including the sign up sheet. I have a few tax kits that you can fight over, but if you don't win the wrestling match, Maralyn Henry will send you one. I also have a back copies of APCUG reports, particularly if you've recently joined, you may want to look at some of the back issues or if you're not the officer of your group that gets them here's your chance to get your own copy before it's all dogeared.

Speaker: Susie Ball, Fresno PC Users Group We have one question we're asking and we didn't know where to ask it, but how many people attend the weekend sessions versus just during the week? We're trying to get more of our members involved and we thought well, this is one thing that should be asked and maybe in the Welcoming.

Speaker: Roland J. Cole, Detroit Area Network Users Group Gee, my father and I know everything and that's something my father knows. We actually have some data on that, and I don't have it. The Comdex committee does issue a report in APCUG Reports, the one that comes out in December, Maralyn help me to remember to ask the committee if they can split the data down that way. The overall attendance last year was in the range of 400, 150 clubs, but I'm not sure that they broke it out. Peek attendance is at the summit, but quite often the IBM luncheon is our second most populated event. There's entertainment there even though there is free food throughout the week people are at the convention hall and don't make it back.

Speaker: Dennis Afterton, Simi Valley Computer Users Group Where can we get the database disk of the vendors?

Speaker: Roland J. Cole, Detroit Area Network Users Group Find Bob Sanborn, the guy I'm not, he will have them. It is also in zip form on GLOBALNET under vendor DB.ZIP in the vendor relations area. It does get updated monthly or whatever Bob said. So either GLOBALNET or Bob Sanborn while he's here.

Speaker: Which meeting is it you are referring to being the Summit Meeting?

Speaker: Roland J. Cole, Detroit Area Network Users Group Wednesday afternoon, Wednesday evening whatever you call it. Five to seven. This is actually the original meeting extended. Sort of the presentation of user groups to each other in the world and we'll run through the combined database, we'll run through the REACH awards and that sort of thing, so it's not our official annual meeting, it's just our gathering. It's on Wednesdays because the idea is that that's maximum attendance for people who are just coming for a day or two. There is quite often press coverage and vendor coverage and all that sort of stuff. Those people go to the Summit meeting, then to the Microsoft reception, i.e. Bill Gates and the food. So it's usually our biggest event. Wednesday afternoons, five to seven.

One year we had the videos from the REACH winners from the Spring where the videos of them were shown at Fall, that sort of thing. Other questions or comments.

Speaker: What are the name tags for?

Speaker: Roland J. Cole, Detroit Area Network Users Group The name tags have a double purpose. We can identify one another but also, it helps to be able to identify people from your own region. Several groups have had success in attracting a vendor when they could tell the vendor that they could come to their group on Tuesday, that group on Wednesday 50 miles away, and another group 100 miles away on Friday, so you get someone who wouldn't swing through your area of the country or the world, but will because they can do it for three or four. The other thing is and particularly tonight at our mini Comdex vendor exhibition. Go around and invite those people, not so much to grab off the individual goodies they have right there, but to see if you can sign them up to come to your group. See if they can come to your program, become a real person behind the name and face. People will go home at the end and sort of realize the opportunities they missed, and we kind of make the forum, but maybe some year we should have a roundtable on how to work Comdex. We have had one on how to work the show, but really how to work the Saturday and Sunday. Part of it's sitting here listening, but part of it is really talking to each other and talking to the vendor reps who are floating around because lots of things happen if you establish personal relationships with some of these vendors. There will be a big chunk of them in the room tonight. Some will be of much more interest to your club than others and make sure you get to know those individuals because they're usually the ones who decide to send someone to your group or send out evaluation products or whatever it is you want.

Similarly, when we have the vendor sessions throughout the week, the very best of the vendors will scatter their people throughout the tables rather than clump together. Give advice, lead a horse to water, and all that sort of thing, but the ones that follow our advice or have figured it out on their own. Intuit is famous for this because one of us became one of them when Richard Cats joined. Would have literally had a table captain, note taker at every table so there would be an Intuit employee there to listen to you. Not just product that you use but also user group relation ideas and do take advantage of finding out what they care about and what they want to see, what they would want to see in a demographics survey.

Micrografx, for instance, loves that sort of stuff. So anything you tell them about how rich or influential your members are is very persuasive. Find out what they are interested in so that you can build your case for dealing with them.

Speaker: Lee Baldwin, Phoenix OS/2 Society On that note, we had the Describe folks come out and based upon that we sold 30 copies of Describe to a group of 60 people. That goes real well with the people when we tell that kind of stuff to the vendors. They like to come to groups like that.

Speaker: Roland J. Cole, Detroit Area Network Users Group That's right. There is another session at times on what it is and why vendors will work with you and what you can appeal to. One is straight immediate sales and of course another is influence on all the other sales. I belong to a group where my collection of 100 nodes is the tiniest one in the group, so it wouldn't be the 30 sales to the individuals for this thing, it would be the persuading, the network administrator for Chrysler that you had ... Novel groups are famous for this. You're not talking to 30 people, you're talking to 30,000 nodes. Same point, whatever it is there about your group that makes it useful, entertaining, and that's important too, some real human beings that wonder around.

In the Borland kit that you can get on how to deal with your user group, is one half of an article that Larry Shaw and I wrote, half was how to speak to a user group and how to treat a user group speaker. Some how they didn't pick up the first half but they picked up the second half, I'm offering to meet them at the airport, offering to go out to lunch or dinner with them, quite often they'll pick up the check, but sort of treating them as an honored guest for that part, how to ask real pointed questions without being nasty about it and that sort of thing. That part's in the Borland kit. We also had a part for the speaker on don't do a canned sale presentation and be ready to answer questions, be ready to survey the audience and all the tips we could assemble, we'll continue to work on that as well and train them to be better in dealing with us. But that's right, the hook you can use for your group and it doesn't need to be the same hook and you don't need a huge group to make these arguments. Bating 50% at every group you went to, you could go to a lot of little groups and still do very well particularly with a product that doesn't yet sell in the millions and millions of copies.

There is an advanced thing on the Comdex which is mailed to registrants and there is usually some stuff around. If you haven't been to Comdex before, they get more overwhelming every year and there are all kinds of tips on how to work Comdex. We sometimes have a session on it, we didn't this time, but ask your veterans, they'll love to tell you all the little secrets like start at the peripheral and work in because the Las Vegas Convention Center will be very crowded. You've got a careful gauge between when they'll run out of goodies and when they'll be throwing them away. The ideal situation is Friday when they have lots of goodies left over, T shirts, bags whatever, then they just throw them away, but on the other hand, avoid too long because they may run out. Sort of careful calculations. The issue on who in the booth can actually answer your questions. It's quite often not who you think, so ask, people do have tips on all that sort of stuff and ordinarily are more than happy to share them. Thank you very, very much for coming.

Copyright 1994, 1995, Association of Personal Computer User Groups. All Rights Reserved. Reprinted with permission, from the Comdex Fall '94 User Group Roundtables.


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