Here in the Tampa bay area we have user groups. Some are small, some are large, some are new, some are long running. But no matter what size, or type, or subject matter; you will almost always get more out of a group than you put in. While this topic could, should, and likely will be discussed at length later the Tl;DR is: more heads the better.
Knowledge: No one person knows everything, but everyone knows something they can share.
Connections: Looking for a new position? Want to meet people who do what you do ’cause all your friends are network engineers? Goto a group meet.
Openness: Everyone is at the group to be there, no one is (typically_ forces to attend. Thus you see the people that WANT to participate in the community at large.
IMO, for the money, local groups are an absolute win.