About a month ago, we created a Podcast Your Data! episode about Tableau user groups (TUGs) where Dan Murray hosted Andy Piper (one of the leaders of Atlanta TUG), Kent Sloan (Oklahoma City TUG) and myself (co-leader of The Netherlands TUG). During our discussion, we compared different TUG’s across the globe.
Of course, all TUGs are different: Some user groups are smaller (20-50 people) and some have hundreds of participants per event. The agenda can look different, as well. However, passionate people who like to share their knowledge is what all these user groups have in common, apart from the fact that they are mostly Tableau related.
So, if you haven’t attended a TUG yet, below are three reasons why you should consider it. I have also added some tips on how to start your own TUG at the end of the article.
TUGs are great places to learn something new about Tableau and data visualization in general! The agenda and setup from one user group to another will differ. For instance, some TUGs offer Tableau Doctor sessions where you can ask your questions to more advanced users. Other TUGs offer “tips and tricks” sessions or presentations where you can learn handy features or how to build something cool and interesting from other attendees.
As an example, a Dutch TUG will host a well-known Makeover Monday event this March. Tableau evangelist Andy Kriebel will show a visualisation and provide a dataset to work on. The participants will then have an hour to build their own version of the viz which should be an improvement on the original. By the end of the hour, there will be a demonstration of created vizzes and joint discussions with suggestions for improvement. You can register to attend the event here.
Above: Elissa Fink presenting at a London TUG event.
If you are lucky enough, you can sometimes spot someone senior from Tableau presenting at a user group event. While attending London TUG last year, Francois Aljenstat (Tableau Chief Product Officer) presented the 2018 roll-out map, Elissa Fink (Tableau Chief Marketing Officer) gave a presentation about technology adoption and Andy Cotgreave (Tableau’s Technical Evangelism Director and co-author of “The Big Book of Dashboards”) presented some interesting insights about dashboards. Here is a short summary from those events.
Adam Selipsky (Tableau CEO) has also stopped by to greet TUG attendees, and Ervin van Laar (Tableau Product Consultant) came to present features from Tableau 10.5 at our event in December. Everyone in the room took value from those visits. To sum it up, attending a TUG gives you invaluable insight into the future of Tableau and you will always take away something new.
2. Meet and Get Inspired
Attending a Tableau User Group is a great opportunity to meet like-minded people who have similar interests and passions and who are probably tackling similar problems/challenges. These people can be from completely different industries, and having conversations with them can broaden your horizons. It is always great fun to exchange your experience and thoughts, and you may even learn from each other. Networking plays an important and valuable part at these events, you never know who you will meet: a new friend, future colleague, a customer or one of Tableau’s own senior representatives.
Above: Networking and food at a TUG meeting.
3. Contribute and Improve
One of the greatest things about these events is that if you are interested, you can contribute to the community. You may have an interesting story to share, a resolution to a problem you have encountered and you can become so empowered by the group that you become a co-leader of the TUG! Anything is possible, just be proactive!
TUGs can also be a great playground to practice and develop your presentation skills. Furthermore, you can apply your project management skills in case you will be hosting an event or become a co- leader. Use your creativity and bring something completely new or invite a speaker who you always wanted to meet.
If you don’t have Tableau User Group in your area, you can start one. Below are the links that can help you.
- Here is the application form to start a new user group. One of Tableau representatives will reach out to you.
- User Group Best Practices Document
- Agenda Library
- Here is the sign-up form to join the community in your area.
Above: There is always plenty of swag at TUG events.
One last thing: We mentioned these user groups during our podcast conversation. I want to share their information in case you happen to be form those locations.
- Atlanta TUG (ATUG)
- Oklahoma City TUG (OKCTUG), you can also follow them on Twitter
- Netherlands Tableau User Group (NLTUG), also on LinkedIn
- London Tableau User Group. This community has an account on Workplace by Facebook where they publish content and do livestreaming of the events.
Special thanks to Rory Heath and InterWorks colleagues for their contribution to this article.