Category Archives: Influencers

INETA 10 – Rob Zelt

Congratulations INETA on 10 years!

I know firsthand that the last 10 years was made possible by the commitment and efforts of a large number of people. Thank you to everybody involved for their time and effort.

I think it was back around 2005 when I personally got involved with INETA. Our local developer user group TRINUG ( was already an INETA member group and benefitted greatly from the resources they made available. At the start of TechEd in Orlando, INETA hosted a gathering of community leaders. The gathering provided an opportunity to meet other individuals from the user group community. Many of the people were already volunteering, and it became a great opportunity to get involved in the exciting activities.

One of the key things that INETA does both directly and indirectly is helping bring developers together. Over the years this through resources such as the Speaker Bureau, SWAG kits, Birds Of A Feather sessions, and summits have helped bring people together. In the spirit of bringing developers together, there was car pooling. Thanks to the generosity of peers, seeing how many people could fit in that 2-door rental to get a ride back to the hotel.

Fun and games aside, it was a great opportunity to meet people and get involved. I left TechEd signed up to volunteer to help organize and coordinate with Microsoft to hold Visual Studio 2005 Community Launch Events around the world. The effort highlighted how many of the great things we all love to be involved in, take a tremendous amount of work behind the scenes to make happen. I stayed involved with the INETA Community Activities team, eventually joining the INETA Board of Directors as the VP of Community Activities and eventually served as President.

The thing that I found most rewarding in the end about getting involved and volunteering with INETA was the opportunity it gave me to meet and interact with so many amazing people. I developed so many relationships that I greatly value today with people directly involved with INETA, individuals involved in the member groups INETA worked to support, and also with Microsoft and the many other companies that provided support and sponsorship to INETA. While local user groups and developer events help me connect with other developers, INETA has helped connect me with other user group leaders through North America and around the world.

I learned a lot from other group leaders from their successes and failures and was often inspired by them. Like almost everything thing in life, what you get out of something is proportional with what you put in. I’m a big believer in community, and feel that the relationships we build and experiences we gain by interacting with our peers help us all grow both personally and professionally. I’m thankful for all that INETA does to try and help provide support and resources, and for the many individuals that make up our extended user group community and their efforts to help others connect, learn, and grow.

I encourage you to get involved. I’m glad I did.

Rob Zelt Rob Zelt
Former President, INETA NorAm

INETA 10 – Jason Beres

It seems like just yesterday when I was on my porch in Delray Beach Florida on the phone with Bill Evjen about the Visual Basic .NET Bible we were writing for Wiley (Hungry Minds at the time) when he mentioned this thing he was working to organize user groups around the world. I thought it was an awesome idea, and I wanted in.

It might sound really geeky, but I’ll never forget my first user group meeting I ever attended at the Gold Coast User Group, sometime in 1997 or 1998, in Boca Raton, Florida. The presentation was on FrontPage 98. It was cool, but that isn’t what got me hooked. What got me hooked were the awesome people at the user group meeting. That day I met Joe Homnick, Dave Noderer, Shervin Shakibi, Kevin Julien, Paul George, and a bunch of other tech-geeks that I still have great relationships with today. So when Bill was talking to me about this larger umbrella of a user group organization, I knew that it would work because of the passion that exists in user groups and their leaders to build community.

At the Gold Coast User Group, it wasn’t long before they convinced me to do a talk … and this happens over and over again every month and user groups all over the world. The community makes the group stronger and sustains it, the user group lives on no matter who the leader is. The same holds true for INETA. Bill Evjen, Brian Loesgen, Keith Franklin, Keath Pleas were all founding board members 10 years ago. The board has churned and changed over the years, but the mission and passion around INETA still exists today.

My involvement with INETA was pretty heavy from 2003 to 2008. I was in the speakers bureau, I was founding member and co-chair of the INETA Academic Committee with Jeff Julian, I was on the Web Site Committee for a stint with Bill Wolff and Chris Pels, and my final commitment was 2 terms as the Secretary on the board. For all of the ups and downs and challenges we had over the years to make INETA great, I will always say this was one of the best organizations to be part of. It was exciting and rewarding because of the people. It also encouraged me to start the Florida .NET User Groups with Dave Noderer, Shervin Shakibi and Kevin Julian, and when I moved to New Jersey, I started the New Jersey .NET User Group near Princeton. I am not longer involved in either group, but they are both thriving and have grown to see great success.

As INETA celebrates its 10th anniversary, and there is yet another group of passionate community focused developers donating a ton of their time to make the worldwide user group community better shows that Bill had a pretty good idea 10 years ago. To be part of INETA was awesome, but to see it continue even stronger (with a lot less resources!) is even better. If you are passionate about .NET and development, get involved with your local user group. If you are a blog writer or Tweeter, get in front of a user group and do a talk. You will be part of something special.

Jason Beres Jason Beres
Former INETA Board Member and National Speaker Bureau member
Vice President, Product Management, Infragistics

INETA 10 – East Bay .NET

East Bay.NET, supporting developers in the area to the east of San Francisco Bay, began as a small group around a conference table at a local company in October of 2003. We have since had 95 meetings with as many as 123 developers (for a talk by Paul Vick).

With INETA’s help, we have had some great INETA speakers such as Rocky Lhotka, Jeff Prosise, Kathleen Dollard, and Julie Lerman. And our members love the books and T-shirts!

Thanks and Happy Birthday INETA!

Deborah Kurata
Instep Technologies, Inc
Co-Chair: East Bay.NET user group
Microsoft MVP

INETA 10 – Jeff Prosise

During the early days of INETA, I agreed to speak to a user group at Colorado State University. I booked a plane ticket into Colorado Springs and arrived there on a bright and sunny afternoon. Before I left the rental car counter, I asked the person behind the desk if he could give me directions to CSU. He pointed north and said “it’s about 4 hours that way.”

I nearly did a double-take, because I thought CSU was near Colorado Springs. Turns out it’s in Fort Collins, which is a straight shot up Interstate 25. The good news is that it’s not a 4-hour drive, especially at the speeds at which I drove to make it to the meeting. I learned a valuable lesson that day: ALWAYS double-check your destination to make sure it’s where you think it is! (Honest, I think CSU used to be in Colorado Springs, but they moved it when they learned I was coming.)

Jeff Prosise
INETA National Speakers Bureau
Cofounder, Wintellect

INETA10 – Mike Vincent

10 Years of Community with INETA

INETA is turning 10 this year, on February 12 to be specific. This is a great time to reflect on how INETA and our .NET Community have grown. In addition to founding and running several user groups in Orange County, California I had the honor of serving INETA for several years, first as Membership Mentor for California, then as Treasurer and finally as Vice President.

Here’s a little history:

INETA is a worldwide support organization for user groups. INETA North America’s main objective is to provide a body of resources and support for starting and successfully running user groups focused on Microsoft’s .NET technologies.

INETA was founded February 12, 2002. The original board members were Bill Evjen, Brian Loesgen, Keith Franklin and Keith Pleas. Initially there were about 40 user groups, however within the next four years INETA grew to about 500 groups with 170,000 members. Today, INETA has more than 1,500 user groups representing more than 1,500,000 developers worldwide.

INETA has five worldwide regions (Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, Middle East-Africa, and North America), each with its own board of directors. INETA was created by volunteers and continues to be run almost exclusively by volunteers. Each region is responsible for the planning and implementation of its programs and services. The regional leads also talk and meet regularly to coordinate high level issues across all regions.

The first word in INETA is International but initially INETA’s focus was on the United States and Canada. However, in our second year we expanded to Europe with the assistance of Christian Nagel, then to Asia Pacific with Mitch Denny taking the lead and Jose Berrios in Latin America. At present Joe Guadagno is President of INETA NorAm, Jose Berrios continues as President INETA LatAm, Damir Tomic is President INETA Europe, Sanjay Shetty is President INETA Asia Pacific and Daron Yöndem is President INETA Middle East and Africa. For each region, the mission is the same – a worldwide support organization for user groups. Each region focuses on the unique needs of its user groups.

INETA is committed to providing valuable resources to user group leaders around the world. The focus is on providing support for all user group related needs, while providing valuable third party resources for technical information needs. With so many .NET experts involved in INETA, members get a front row seat to the .NET revolution as it continues to unfold. The INETA community model further provides members with an opportunity to be a contributing member of this revolution.

INETA North America resources available to member user group leaders include:

Typical member groups in INETA Noram come in all sizes. From groups with thousands of members and meeting with attendance in the hundreds to groups with a handful of members per meeting, INETA provides support without differentiation. Members of typical user groups come from all kinds of backgrounds including independent consultants and corporate developers, people with lots of experience with .NET and those just getting into it.

INETA programs and activities are focused on building and sustaining user group participation and membership. They include a Tech·Ed presence, support for local user group membership growth activities, newsletters, promotion of industry events, and partnering with the Developer Evangelists from the local Microsoft office.

INETA continues to build a strong community around .NET. This can be seen in the continued growth in membership and user groups, as well as success of events that bring people together such as Code Camps. Through a continued close relationship with Microsoft user group members to have access to product teams, special discounts and offers, and early education about upcoming products.

Mike Vincent
INETA North America, Past Vice President
Visual Studio ALM MVP

INETA 10 – David McCarter

In 2008, I was proud to win the INETA Community Excellence Award. In 1994 I became one of the cofounders of the user group that I currently run in San Diego, the San Diego .NET Developers Group (formerly the San Diego Visual Basic User Group). This April we will turn 18 years old and have helped hundreds to thousands of local southern California developers.

Winning this award meant a lot to me because, like most user group leaders, we work very hard keeping our groups running and attracting members and speakers, most of the time with no recognition. It also meant a lot because this award was nominated and voted on by my peers.

I believe that we do help the local community. I don’t volunteer at soup kitchens, pet shelters etc., in turn we provide training, job placement, networking (an very important part of finding a great job) and more that helps developers better their career, family and more. Ineta has always been a part of helping us in this endeavor.

David McCarter David McCarter
INETA Community Champions Excellence Award Winner
San Diego .NET Developers Group

INETA10 – Chris Pels

Since 2002 the volunteers of INETA have worked to improve the community of professional software developers. These individuals helped to create new user groups around the country and foster the growth and improvement of existing user groups. The INETA volunteers from around the country are often also active in their local communities, many being user group leaders. In addition, most also work a “real” job to earn a living.

Throughout the past 10 years INETA has provided a number of programs and services targeted at helping local user groups. Some programs like the national Speakers Bureau, now the Community Speakers program, have been quite visible. Many other efforts, many times working in conjunction with Microsoft, have been more indirect, but just as valuable to the user group community.

Ten years ago the user group community was focused exclusively on in-person interaction at user group meetngs. Since then, the advent of social media and other on-line methods of interaction and sharing have added to, and in some ways, challenged the concept of inperson gatherings for networking and sharing of information. Social media and on-line tools are powerful and useful, but are not total substitutes for the traditional in-person user group meeting. The value of talking to someone in person should not be under-estimated.

The challenge for INETA, which requires all of our ideas and participation, is to determine how to incorporate the evolving on-line “tool-set” to facilitate professional growth, networking, and learning for developers over the next 10 years. A national organization provides a powerful voice and mechanism to help developers at all levels that is not possible at a local level.

This willingness of INETA volunteers to give back to the developer community is a trait often taken for granted in our profession. A good friend once joined me at a local Code Camp and made the remark that developers are one of the few true professions still left. We are fortunate to have a true “community”.

Think about contributing to your local community by participating in a local user group, mentoring someone new to the profession, sharing information through a blog, Twitter, etc., and other opportunities that arise. In addition, consider getting involved in INETA to contribute to a nationwide impact. I was fortunate to have that opportunity and the experiences and friendships I have developed will last a lifetime.

Congratulations INETA on 10 years of helping developers at every level. Looking forward to many more.

Chris Pels
INETA Past President and Board Member
Microsoft DevBoston User Group

INETA10 – Dave Norderer

I was lucky to be involved in the early days of INETA. Things really got going at the 2002 New Orleans Teched which, unfortunately, I was unable to attend and by June of that year when the website launched, there were 40 charter user groups.

As told by them, INETA was an idea that Bill Evjen and Eric Ewing had come up with at lunch one day. Looking back this was the launch of what we almost take for granted now as the world wide .NET developer community.

I kept bugging Bill and finally got pulled in by Barton Friedland, the first “membership” chairman. Barton did a great job of setting a positive tone for mentoring fledgling user group leaders and when he left the board a few months later I took over.

That first year or two was a LOT of fun. I was working with volunteers and user group leaders across the world in 70 countries. On occasion I would have to consult a map because I did not know where a country was located. It was a great education for me of both geography and also customs and politics. People in neighboring countries that probably should have been working together in an ideal world, really couldn’t because of borders, politics, religion and other barriers.

Unfortunately it became obvious that the strings for all the world could not be pulled from the USA. As Microsoft was funding this, it was difficult to get money, swag and ideas to transfer to other regions of the world. Once it became more visible and people on local regions started asking for money from their subsidiaries the rules started to change. In 2003 INETA volunteers and Microsoft people from across the world met in London and split INETA into regions.

I left the board in 2005. At that time there were 768 registered groups representing 160,000 developers worldwide.

Now the .NET community has matured and many of the other related technologies like SQL Server and Sharepoint.

This was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I will always remember fondly!!

Dave Noderer
Software Developer / Microsoft MVP

INETA 10 – Bill Evjen

It is really hard to believe that INETA (the International .NET Association) is 10 years old this year! It is honestly amazing how time flies. It does seem like almost yesterday that I was working on getting INETA going. Today INETA is a strong organization that represents hundreds of thousands of user group members all around the world. It is quite nice to see its success.

I realized the need for INETA once I got the St. Louis .NET User Group (STLNET) started with my friend and co-worker Devin Rader back in 2002. We were one of the first new .NET user groups to start in the world. Microsoft’s .NET Framework was just introduced and it was rather difficult to find any information on the technology. Obviously, back then the Internet wasn’t what it is today. Microsoft wasn’t going crazy having their employees blog about the technology at the time. You couldn’t just go online and find everything you needed in order to learn this new technology. There were less than five books out on the technology and not all the books went that deep. It was just natural that user groups started popping up around the country at the time.

To get STLNET started, I called many of the cities CIO’s to talk to them about sending their employees to our group. We had great showings and our first meetings were rather successful. Once Devin and I started the St. Louis .NET User Group, we were quick to realize what our issue was. The problem was that there weren’t that many people in town that understood the new .NET Framework yet. We needed speakers and after just a few meetings, we didn’t have any more speakers to work with.

The problem wasn’t just with STLNET. I realized this as many of these new user group leaders got online and started talking to each other. The questions were all the same – “How do I start my user group?”, “Where can we meet?”, “How do I find speakers?

I happened to be going to TechEd 2002 and arranged to meet Eric Ewing at Microsoft to discuss these issues and the idea of creating a super-group to help new user groups form and even flourish. I pitched the idea to the team at Microsoft and explained the problem and the value of getting these user groups formed all over the country. Eric worked on community initiatives and was very excited about the idea. Eric was a complete champion of the formation of INETA and worked hard to get this group established and accepted in the larger Microsoft organization. If it wasn’t for his immediate support of the idea, I don’t think INETA would have had any chance in succeeding.

With Eric’s support, INETA got funding. I then went online to some of the user group leaders I was talking with to help me make out the Board of Directors of the new organization. Right away I got the support of Keith Franklin (Chicago .NET User Group), Brian Loesgen (San Diego .NET User Group), Dave Noderer (, and Farhan Muhammad (Twin Cities .NET User Group in Minneapolis/St. Paul).

The immediate problem was speakers. It was really easy to get speakers if you were the leader of the Seattle .NET User Group or even a user group in Silicon Valley. However, if you were in Fargo, Cincinnati, St. Louis, San Antonio, or even Guam – it was quite difficult. Remember that at the time there were very few people that were expert enough to get up in front of 150 people and speak on a particular topic concerning the .NET Framework. Those speakers were generally concentrated only in certain areas and we had to figure out how to get them to these other cities to support these user groups in forming.

With this idea, we created the INETA Speakers Bureau. This group was billed as an elite group of .NET experts and we made a big deal about the selection process. What this did was cause the best technology speakers in the world to come and ask to be a part of INETA. We quickly formed this group with notable industry leaders such as David Chappell, G. Andrew Duthie, Ken Getz, Billy Hollis, Tim Huckaby, Chris Kinsman, Rocky Lhotka, Juval Löwy, Keith Pleas, Jeff Prosise, Jeffrey Richter, and Doug Seven.

With these great speakers and the board of user group leaders, we threw a tremendous amount of support to the user groups all over the US and then the world. Our goal was to make user groups successful and in turn, I really believe it was a core support vehicle for the entire .NET Framework to take hold all over the country.

There are many ways to learn a new technology or about best practices in that technology. Some people gravitate to books and magazines, others go online and watch videos, and some just learn by doing. Even with those, one great way to learn is face to face with others in the industry. Meeting and discussing technologies in organized meetings has been a means to learning for as long as we have been on the planet and it is still a great way to go about it. Stop by your local user group this month. You will really enjoy yourself.

Happy Coding!

Bill Evjen
Founder and former Executive Director of INETA
CIO, Swank Motion Pictures
January 22, 2012
St. Charles, MO, USA