Recently I had the opportunity to chat with some of the staff from MPUG, the Microsoft Project User Group. I have been affiliated with MPUG since it was formed. Most of my involvement has been of the face-to-face variety at our local Puget Sound chapter meetings.
The MPUG discussion reminded me that not everyone uses user groups, or even knows of them. I come from the old school of user groups--that's where you find the zealots for whatever technology the user group focuses on. I'm old enough to remember general-purpose PC user groups. In 1992 I got to travel to the famous Boston Computer Society where we launched Excel 4.0 at their user group meeting (and not coincidently Boston was the home base of Excel's arch-rival Lotus 1-2-3).
Really before the Internet became pervasive, user groups were the places and events you went to for information, training, and troubleshooting about your given technology. They were the discourse communities. If you were a techie, you went to strut your stuff and collect followers. If you were just getting started with a particular product or technology, that's where you found fellow newbies as well as the experts.
As you'd expect, much of the user group action has shifted online. I think MPUG does a good job of giving its members great access to information and community via their website. I still think, however, that the greatest value for the members will be found at face-to-face meetings such as chapter events. If you have access to a user group meeting (MPUG or otherwise), I encourage you to visit it. Bring your tough questions for the gurus--they like taking them. Bring a laptop to show others your favorite solution or most vexing problem with Project or whatever software the user group may focus on. Bring a thumb drive to swap templates or code samples. Bring some business cards to make connections. Have some fun!