West Michigan Women in Tech

February 25th marked the inaugural West Michigan Women in Tech User Group meeting.

The first meeting for the West Michigan WIT User Group was snowed out – fitting for where we live. And befitting West Michigan ladies, we just rescheduled. *Snow happens* amirite?

Accordingly March 22nd marked the inaugural West Michigan WIT User Group meeting.

We were not snowed or rained or anything out, which was already an improvement. Due to the reschedule, we did have some people de-register. It’s cool; it happens.

I spent the week before the meeting both excited and almost dreading it. As I mentioned at the meeting, I’ve never been a group leader type. I led some things in college, usually because I was handed the thing and said “here. Do something with it.”

I guess in a way this group is the same. I wasn’t happy with how the existing area user group was functioning, and feeling no other recourse, I just thought to start a Women in Tech group. It has been a rocky road.

I don’t like to sugar coat things, even though I’m consistently neck-deep in Salesforce kool-aid. User Groups are popping up everywhere, which is great, but when I initially signed the papers, there were only two people responsible for supporting them, and for the first few months after submitting myself to lead a group, I didn’t feel supported at all.

It is difficult to learn what is expected of you or how you can be set up for success, doing some of the cool things that other groups are doing. It is very much sink or swim. At least it was for me.

Until I got a mentor anyway (Sarah Deutsch, rock star, I’m looking in your direction).

I’ve said it before, and I will say it over and over until I am blue in the face – this community is where it’s at. Once I got signed up with a mentor, things started to move. I met other people who had done this; not to get too metaphysical here, but it was as if once the universe knew what I needed, I developed a Salesforce-mentor-related gravitational pull.

But back to the point. I don’t know what I’m doing, but after last night, I feel like it’s ok.

We had 5 people super cool women attend our inaugural meeting, graciously hosted by Ashima. We decorated wine glasses, so we can drink (whatever we want!) from them at subsequent meetings. We discussed what we want this group to be. We vented. It was positive. I was inspired and reinvigorated.

But this post is supposed to be for those of you A) looking for some support in West Michigan and B) thinking about starting a user group.

If you are looking for support nearby, please join us! We are on the community; we are on LinkedIn. We tweet #WestMichiganWIT. We want to hear from you and talk Salesforce with you!

If you are thinking about starting a user group, get a mentor. They have fought the battles that you will have to fight, felt the disappointment and feelings of inadequacy, and they can give you some really solid tips. They can be a cheerleader or a firm hand. I also encourage you to be patient; I originally signed up for this gig in October of last year. It takes a while to get things moving, and it is slow to start. Still worth it!

It’s probably too early for me to writing all of this. I have a cat who doesn’t understand REM cycles. But at least I can say it’s authentic. And so was our meeting.

Next one will be in April. And from there, who knows?