10 Years of a Thriving Technical User Group
Published Dec 15 2022 08:32 PM 2,149 Views

When it comes to building a vibrant user group, no community is the same. However, one thing is certain across all user groups, is that people are at the heart of it all. It was 2012 when the Azure Sydney User Group launched, and a decade later the community has grown from strength to strength and so too has the evolution of the technology.

Microsoft Azure MVP Sam Alavi, together with Microsoft AI MVP Arafat Tehsin, are the current leaders of the Azure Sydney User Group, and have been a driving force in nurturing the community over the last few years. Together, they overcame the challenges of the pandemic and led the group to celebrate its 10th year anniversary in late November 2022.


The evening of the milestone celebration saw guests gather at the Microsoft Reactor and network over pizza. The presentation included a Microsoft Ignite highlights recap by Sam Alavi, followed by a technical deep dive into the Microsoft Dev Box by Simon Waight, Azure Pro Developer Lead at Microsoft.

“It feels great to see that we have built a thriving community that people trust and feel safe to join. They come along to gain value from the technology, develop their skills, and expand their knowledge that they can leverage to grow their career and personal value,” says Sam Alavi.

The importance of user groups for developers

Sam explains how user groups serve as a vital resource for developers in their professional development of new skills and staying up to date with the latest trends, as well as providing networking opportunities.

“Technology is evolving at a rapid pace, causing an acceleration in the rate of change. The fast adoption of new tech and learning new skills are essential, and user groups are great resources to discover and engage in this journey.”

“An established and well-formed user group provides a vast network of like-minded people on whom you can rely on to help stay abreast of new technology, recognize emerging trends, develop new skills, and help find answers to your questions about the tech and tools of your day-to-day job. In addition, it is an excellent opportunity to further advance your professional development through networking opportunities with local experts and members,” continued Sam.

Maintaining a thriving technical user group

Reflecting on his own community leadership of the Sydney based Azure user group, in which he was recognised for as Microsoft’s Most Valuable Professional (MVP), Sam highlights the crucial elements in running a successful long-standing community and reflects on the mindset to always be on a path of learning.

The Azure Sydney User Group has hosted 115 meet ups over the last 10 years, with the intent to host an event each month. Sam Alavi explains that consistency is key when building and engaging with a community. “Consistency and regular cadence make a great partnership with members and generate enthusiasm among people to engage and participate. For example, our meetup cadence is to meet on the last Wednesday of every month.”



Sam suggests that clear communication is another consideration to strengthen a community and build a relationship with its members. Understanding how your audience likes to receive and engage with information should also be considered in the communications platforms of the user group.

“We use various communication tools and social networks such as our Meetup group, Microsoft Teams, Twitter, and LinkedIn networks to engage and communicate with members,” says Sam.

Keeping content meaningful and relevant by user group leaders is another important insight into building a thriving community. “People join a tech community to uplift their technical knowledge, learn from others and develop skills they can use every day. Therefore, keeping the focus on content and knowledge sharing rather than sales pitches driven by marketing influences. This is beneficial for several reasons and is key to unlocking success”.

What are your tips to building a thriving technical community?

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