IOUG Insight: Community—The Most Important Aspect of the IOUG

I am stepping down as the president of IOUG for a great opportunity with Oracle. I would thank the IOUG for everything it has done for me. The user group was instrumental in helping me get to where I am today. The group has helped me technically, professionally, and personally.

As a DBA, all of my best ideas came out of IOUG. I have spent a lot of time after sessions and during gatherings at COLLABORATE  talking with my peers about things I was working on or stumped on at work. I have often been shocked at how many times someone had an answer so quickly. But I have  figured out that they weren’t DBA gods, but rather someone similar to me. They have just had the same issue I had but sooner and had worked on it for hours. I was just getting the benefit of all their time.

My problem was, once I left COLLABORATE, it was a whole year before I could have that same level of interaction. That is when I started networking with those same people virtually or at other local events. Now, I’m just an email or message away from them. No worries; I get plenty of emails too with questions that I answer and I’m surprised I have the answers.

Professionally, I have developed my presentation skills significantly over the years. Once you struggle through your first presentation, you start to take note of the advanced techniques other people put into their presentations. The key here is to talk to them. Ask them how they took that approach and, more importantly, why. More often than not, they will feel flattered and be willing to talk to you. Throughout the years, I have made many contacts such as these. And now, as I find new ways of doing things, I share with them and they continue to do so in kind.

The most important part of IOUG is the community aspect. If you are just attending sessions, watching webinars, and nothing else, you are only getting about 10% of the value of IOUG. The majority of the value is the interaction with Oracle, other vendors, and your peers. I have made so many friends being a part of IOUG. We get together at COLLABORATE  as if it’s a family reunion. We have dinner and drinks, we attend sessions together, and we catch up on life. And, outside of COLLABORATE, we keep in touch. If we are having database problems, we reach out to the group. Also, as life happens, we talk about that too.

I hope each of you get to have this sort of experience. Videos and online sources are great, but remember, it’s that interaction where the real value comes from.