Start and Promote Your Group

Starting a Local IA Group  |  Checklists  |  Tips From the Field  |  Other Resources

Starting a Local IA Group

Starting a Local IA Group does not have to be a daunting endeavor. Depending on the level of formality you are interested in managing for your gatherings and the potential size of your group, your organizational tasks may just include sending an email to some people who might be interested with a meeting date and time in the local pub. Below are some suggested steps for getting your first Local IA Group underway!

1. Find out if a group exists in your area.

  • Send out a general message on some IA related email lists such as SIG-IA or iai-members to see if a group exists in your area.
  • Browse some resource like IA Meetup, Yahoo! Groups or the UXNet.
  • If a group exists, contact the leader and see if you can join one of the meetings. You may find that the existing group is perfect for your needs, or you may discover room for another group with a different focus or level of experience.

2. Test the waters.
If a group does not exist in your area or you feel that you would like to start a new group:

  • Members can search the IAI member directory for IAs in their area.
  • Send out a general message on some IA related email lists such as SIG-IA or IAI members.
  • Tell friends and co-workers who are interested in IA that you are hoping to start a new Local Group. Ask them to spread the word.
  • Think about any IA related classes, seminars or activities you attend - these kind of gatherings will be great places to mention your desire to start a Local IA Group and gauge the level of interest. You might even get volunteers to help you coordinate!

3. Create a dialogue
Once you begin to get responses:

  • Keep the dialogue very general in order to get a sense of how many people will be willing to participate. (no need to nail down a topic at this stage)
  • Ask those who respond to refer you to people they know who might be interested in participating.
  • Once you feel a local group is feasible in your area, you might want to send a more formal set of questions to those you have heard from in order to get a feel for the specifics. Are people looking for a roundtable discussion on a particular series of topics or a more informal gathering where people can just meet one another and talk about whatever comes up?

4. Set the stage
Your survey responses will give you a good sense of where, when, and in what format to hold your first meeting, but you can bet that the responses will not be perfectly aligned. You, as the coordinator of the group, will need to make some decisions (at least for the first meeting) in order to get things started.

  • Decide upon a venue, a time and a format for the meeting.
  • Make reservations or give the venue a heads up that a group of people will be sitting for a while. (if the size of the groups warrants such)
  • Compile an announcement including the information about your meeting (Who, What, When, Where, Why).

5. Promote your group's event

  • Send your message out to the list of people who were in your chain of earlier responses.
  • Send your message to the IAI members list.
  • Send a message to any other local groups they may discuss similar topics (e.g., SIG-CHI, AIGA, etc). View a list of IA related groups.
  • IA Meetup is a great new resource for finding and coordinating local groups worldwide.

6. Stay in touch

  • In order to keep a certain level of continuity in your Local IA Group and to ensure its continued success, you will likely want to consider methods for staying in touch in between local events.
  • Some local groups send email to the IAI members list advertising their event. Others have set up specific local mailing lists using a free service such as Yahoo! Groups.


We have prepared the following checklists to help you create a network in your area and organize an event redux.

Local Groups Checklist: Creating a Network (0.03 MB Word document)
Local Groups Tipsheet: Organizing an Event Redux (0.03 MB Word document)

Tips From the Field

Local IA Group Coordinator Survey Results
We surveyed local IA group coordinators from around the world to get their feedback on the rewards and challenges of organizing group events.

>> Read the Results of the Local IA Group Coordinator Survey

Behind the Scenes Video

We love Institute member Jan Jursa's video on how to host an IA Cocktail Hour. Jan who cohosts the Berlin IA Cocktail Hour with Sabine Stoessel, interviews Peter Boersma of the Amsterdam IA Cocktail Hour on how to set up a local group, then walks you through planning and hosting a Berlin event, inlcuding tips, scenes from recent events and some very lovely imagery of Amsterdam canals and Berlin street scenes.

Behind the Scenes: The Berlin IA Cocktail Hour

Other Resources

Meetups, BarCamps and Cocktail Hours

Local Groups at Our Partner Associations

  • IxDA has a great Go Local Flyer with information about setting up new local group.
  • Information on local gatherings from the STC Usability SIG:
  • Info from the Usability Professionals' Association on local chapters:
    UPA Local Chapters are organizations officially recognized and financially supported by UPA, and therefore include heavy weight processes such as bylaws and grant information that may not be relevant to those just wanting to start a Local IA Group. However, this site does have links to good information on such topics as "Forming a Local Chapter", "Running a Local Chapter" and "Marketing Your Local Chapter" that can be relevant to organizing any local professionals' group.  
  • Article on the challenges local SIG-CHI groups may face. The article is a few years old but the issues it discusses are still very relevant:

This page was last modified on August 5, 2011 09:31 PM.