Partnering with the most modern and innovative technologies means playing an active role in supporting our technology partners’ user groups. As an early Snowflake technology partner in Chicago, we’ve been sponsoring and supporting the Chicago Snowflake User Group for the last couple of years. Recently, I joined Elsa Mayer, the Snowflake Community Manager, Nehil Jain from the Toronto Chapter, and Lenny Fishler from the New York Chapter for a panel at the 2020 Snowflake Cloud Data Summit. Here are some of the best practices and tips we discussed for running a successful Snowflake User Group. I hope you find this information valuable for running your own Snowflake User Group Chapter.
How to Select a Topic That Will Resonate with Snowflake Users
Since the needs and interests of the Snowflake User Community are so broad, selecting a topic for a Snowflake User Group is one of the most challenging aspects of putting on a great event. Interests can include best practices in data migration into Snowflake, the best Snowflake data architectures for improving BI dashboards, learning how to do advanced data science with Snowflake, and even ways to save money with Snowflake.
While there won’t be a silver bullet for determining a topic, here are a few ways you can narrow it down:
- Survey Past Participants– You can use a tool like Google Forms or Survey Monkey to put out a formal call for topics or reach out to participants individually for a more casual approach.
- Ask your Snowflake Account Executives– If you are a Snowflake customer, you’re likely in regular contact with your Snowflake Account Executive (AE). Their close relationships and frequent communication with their customers means that they have a clear understanding of what users care about.
- Work with a Snowflake Community Manager– Snowflake Community managers are invaluable when it comes to supporting the local Snowflake User Group Chapters. They can help you narrow down a topic by sharing insights into what other chapters are doing and helping brainstorm ideas. Not sure how to connect with your community manager? Ask your AE for an introduction.
- Share a Success Story– If you’re already leading a Snowflake user group or considering starting one, you probably already know the transformative power of this modern data platform and have seen some great success. Consider inspiring other users by sharing your success story in a user group presentation.
Format Options for Interesting and Engaging User Group
One of the most interesting things I learned from the User Group Panel was the different format ideas for a user group. For the most part, the Chicago Snowflake User Groups have mostly been 1-2 presentations from a variety of speakers with a Q & A at the end. While this format has been successful, I’m looking forward to adding some of these other formats into the mix.
- Standard Presentations– A standard presentation is typically 1-2 speakers presenting on a specific topic followed by a Q & A. There is usually a visual presentation such as a slide deck or demo to illustrate points and engage the audience. Here are a few different categories that we’ve seen work well for the Chicago Snowflake User Group.
- User Presentation– As I mentioned earlier, user success stories are a great way to educate and inspire other users. Snowflake’s modern data platform can power a vast number of use cases, so the way one company is using it may not have even occurred to another. By sharing user’s stories, you can support your fellow user community by empowering them to be more innovative.
- Ecosystem Partner Presentation– While Snowflake is at the heart of many modern data ecosystems, there are a number of other data and analytics technologies that work well with Snowflake and provide great value. Consider inviting a speaker from partners like Looker, Dataiku, Fivetran, ALTR, etc. (If you don’t have a contact, work with your AE for an introduction)
- Snowflake Presentation– Snowflake has a number of category leaders and experts available to lead user group presentations. Presentations can range from product roadmap, new features, and best practices. Work with your community manager or AE to set these up.
- Moderated Panel– A moderated panel is a great way to get a number of perspectives on a topic and can be really interesting for the audience. A great panel includes participants from a variety of roles and a moderator to ask them predefined questions as well as questions from the audience. Pro tip: Send the questions to the panelists in advance so they can provide interesting and well thought out answers.
- Training– A short, 30-45 minute training session on a Snowflake feature can be a great value to Snowflake users. The training can be led by the user group leader, a snowflake team member, a consulting partner, or anyone who can teach a cool feature or process in Snowflake. Here is a great example of a video training we did for our Chicago User Group in March 2020 on How to Perform Etl In Snowflake Using Stored Procedures, Azure Data Factory, and Azure Functions.
Depending on the time you’ve allotted for your user group and cadence, you may be able to choose more than one of these formats and mix and match.
It was great connecting with other Snowflake User Group Chapter Leads. I look forward to implementing their insights into the Chicago User Group as we continue virtually and when we get back to meeting in-person. If you have any questions, want to get involved with the Chicago Snowflake User Group, or want to share your best practices, please connect with me on LinkedIn and reach out!