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So I went to a SolidWorks user group last week. The Tulsa SolidWorks User Group (TULSUG). It’s the first one I’ve been to since, oh, since I was a reseller and I had to go. That was a few years ago. This one I’m not only a user, I’m helping out where I can as co-founder.

For those of you involved in a user’s group, you know what it’s about. For those skeptics and uninterested you may want to know what the big deal is. One thing I wondered is if it would be worth my time. I knew from previous experience it would be, but I know others who think differently. In helping get things together, I came across some myths, in the form of insightful opinions, about users groups that I’d like to debunk.

Myth: User groups are just places for head hunters and job hunting.
Fact: While user groups are a good place to network the focus of most of the people there are to learn things they can take back to their work. One of the attendees at my last users group was told by his boss to go and learn or else. That’s a smart boss. There’s much betters ways to find a job by the way, especially if you know a lot of people in your industry. Don’t think these are purely job shopping events. People going to these things want to learn.

Myth: Users groups are just a bunch of sales pitches.
Fact: The user group is for and by the user. If there’s someone there touting their product, the group leader needs to step in and lay out some rules. If you’re showcasing a product, put yourself in a user’s shoes and demo it from how it works instead of giving a sales pitch.

Myth: They’re not worth my time.
Fact: Ok, tough one. If you want to spend some more time with family you have a free pass. The groups are usually a couple hours every few months, some at lunch or during the day. I can almost guarantee it being worth the time though. There is that whole thing of getting out what you put in, but even if you don’t you may find out something you’ve been wondering about. Try it and tell me if I’m wrong.

Myth: Those things are lame.
Fact: They’re not lame. You are, cause you didn’t go and bring a positive and invigorating perspective to the “mundane” world of CAD. I admit, sometimes these things don’t sound as attractive as racing a jet in a Bugatti, but you can get a lot out of the group. I’d recommend some good ol’ participation.

Myth: Those things are dangerous.
Fact: If by dangerous you mean, a magnificent resource for gaining vast amounts of ideas and knowledge, then yes, they’re dangerous and you will be too. When you get back to your job, you’ll be the sharp tack in the bunch of less sharp tacks. Don’t let it get to your head though.

These are just a few opinions I’ve come across. Maybe you have some more or think it’s still just a bunch of SolidWorks geeks standing around holding hands talking about extrusions and bashing autocad. Well, it’s that and more. Not so much on the hand holding part though. We replace that with free stuff and free food. Go check one out and if you’re in Tulsa, look me up.

Author

Josh is founder and editor at SolidSmack.com, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.