It was with some trepidation that I took the 5:18 train into the city. What are these Joomla people like? What if they don't like what I do? What if there isn't enough pizza? I needn't have worried though as my visit to the Sydney Joomla User Group left me with just one question. Why had it taken me five years to visit?
Joomla is more than just a content management system. It's also a community. Since the advent of the Internet, the word community has become a cliche. Unlike the traditional meaning, virtual communities are not bound by the constraints of a physical location. It still amazes me that technology can connect people from around the globe via places such as the Joomla Forum. But even the best online meeting solution doesn't replace the experience you get meeting face-to-face. And that's where Joomla User Groups (JUGs) come in.
At the time of writing there are 153 groups worldwide. Members get together at a physical location to share knowledge, help each other with projects and mingle. There is a mix of developers and newbies so regardless of your Joomla experience, there is a place for you. Each group is free to set their own agenda, but typical meetings include a presentation, a question and answer session as well as an opportunity to meet other Joomla enthusiasts.
Some groups hold a larger annual event called a JoomlaDay. This is a conference format with talks by Joomla experts on various topics. The longer format allows presenters more time to go into depth and cover several different subjects. There might also be specialist workshops held on surrounding days. You never know, you might even be invited to speak.
Head on over to the Joomla User Group pages to find your closest group. If there isn't a group already and you have some local Joomla contacts, you can start your own. You might also find a local group via Meetup.
Don't make the mistake I made by waiting five years before getting involved. Join your local JUG today or start your own. You never know where it may lead you.