One of the first things I did after becoming a Salesforce Admin was to start attending User Group meetings. I was lucky enough that my boss was already tied into the community (soon after I started work for her, she became the leader of our User Group), and understood the value of these meetings.
It would be hard pressed to say that these groups are a hidden gem. However, I still believe that users & companies that are new to Salesforce.com may not completely understand the value that these meetings have. Especially for smaller companies who may not be able to afford a trip to Dreamforce, this is the best way to network with the people you need to know. Just last week at our meeting, I was able to help two admins find button-click solutions to their problems & also got a suggestion on how to resolve an issue that I had been having.
These groups are still rapidly expanding in both size & number, which speaks volumes on how they are helping to transform this community. Some of the groups are even doing all day events like “Dreamforce 2 You” down in Florida. If you aren’t already an active member in your local user group, go sign up (lower left side)! And if you are already attending, what is the value for you or your organization? Is there anything that these meetings don’t provide that you wish they did?