Never skip an SQL Saturday…

The SQL Saturday in Raleigh last weekend was the second one I’ve attended and I loved almost every second of it! Thanks to the Triangle SQL Server User Group for organizing the event and congratulations.

1) There were just enough tracks and sessions to choose from.
2) There was ample time to go from one session to another.
3) The sponsors were situated near the classrooms so it was impossible to miss them. (In SQL Saturday – Charlotte, the sponsors were in another building.)
4) Parking was easy…(it was hard for me to find where I parked my car though–but then that happens all the time).
5) The giveaways were nice. The sticky ball is the bomb! Apparently, it’s not a good idea to throw it to a flat-screen TV. Why? First, because it wouldn’t stick (I tried so many times). And second, I was told that if I didn’t stop trying, I would lose all my privileges. What’s with men and their televisions???
6) It was well-attended, the speakers were awesome,  the food wasn’t bad, and…
7) They hid the donuts! Seriously, LUCKY ME. That would have been another 5 lbs I’d have to lose this week.

Why you should attend SQL Saturdays
This is what the post is all about really. I want to encourage you to never skip an SQL Saturday in your area. Let me tell you why.

1) It’s the best time to get starstruck
Maybe you don’t get a kick out of it. But I do–and I’m not ashamed to say it. I get starstruck when I see SQL Server MVPs, authors, and tweeps. I think I’m innately a fan.  It’s just the way I’m built. SQL Saturdays is like the Oscars–only, it has smarter people. And it’s more fun. Orlando Bloom will never know my name (and I doubt he’ll ever win an Oscar)–but SQL Server authors and MVPs–if you stalk them long enough, they will. :D And they will really say hi!

Anyway, if you’re like me, some stalking tips:

a) Always have a pen when you’re having a book signed.
Or just die from embarrassment your whole life. I had DBA Survivor signed and Thomas LaRock (blog | twitter) had to find a pen that worked to sign it. When I close my eyes, I still remember him saying, “you’re new to this stalking thing, huh?”. So bring a pen. Sponsors give it away–use it!

b) “I follow you!” is not the best way to introduce yourself.
And to follow it with “You’re lotsahelp, right? But I don’t know your name!” is not a good idea either.

Eric Humphrey (blog | twitter)  must have thought I was crazy. And no, of course I didn’t stop talking. I made it worse and said–“You look exactly like you do on Twitter!”. I said it like it was the world’s most amazing discovery. They say kids say the darndest things and man, I wish I had that excuse. He was nice about it though and replied that looking exactly like you do on Twitter is how it’s supposed to be. (If that is the case, I’d probably faint if I see @sqlchicken). :)

c) “You’re sqlcraftsman!” is also not a good way to start a conversation.
I said this and the guy said, “no, I’m Jim.”. OMG–talk about embarrassing.

So anyway, always start with a hello. In a normal world, that usually works best.

2) Learn, learn, learn
The learning benefit is a given. SQL Server is soo big. There’s so much to learn. SQL Saturdays allow you to learn about topics you’ve never heard of (xquery???), learn about topics you’ve kinda heard of (is powershell =  powerpuff?), and learn more about topics you already know (t-s-q-l). You get all these for free. You can ask questions just by raising your hand. And trust me, that’s a big deal. I always try that with my mother-in-law and it never works.

But you must be thinking–you can easily learn  from PASS’s virtual sessions. You can even learn just by downloading the sessions. Or you can just read a book. So why attend, right? Why make time?

One word: CHANCES.

3) Chances
Think of an SQL Saturday as match.com or eharmony.com. It’s a place where you meet people who do and like the same things that you do. And you don’t have to take a personality exam to get in. You just–go. For every session, you get the chance to find someone to like, to talk to, and to have fun with. You just have to grab the chance.

It’s so easy to pretend that the world consists of just your family, your team, and your current set of friends. But the world is bigger than that. And you can be so much more.

I had several surgeries last year. One was so bad I remember asking one doctor, “Will I die?”. And all he said was–“you’re at the right place at the right time.”  (Yeah, he did his best to be reassuring :P).  When I woke up from the surgery (yay! I survived!), I felt lucky, yet, I also felt irrelevant. I started asking, how many people have I helped? How many people have I made an impact on?

How many have I reached out to?

Not too many. I’ve always been too busy.

So what does this have to do with going to SQL Saturdays? If you’re reading my blog, then most likely you are an SQL Server professional like me. I know it’s easy to keep to yourself. But events like SQL Saturdays give you a chance to be relevant. They give you a chance  to reach out to people you can easily have a huge impact on. Afterall, you’re already into similar things!

All it takes is one hello.

“Hello, I’m Janice Lee.”

Every session I attended, I said these words to the person beside me. I left the event with three new friends: Derek who went to Belgium early this morning for a vacation with his wife, Vishal who looked 13 but was really 29 years old and was an SQL Server whiz kid, and Elizabeth who quit her job because she knew what was important to her. I have their email addresses, I encouraged them to join twitter, and I think I convinced Derek to ditch his planner and get himself a smartphone when he comes back from Belgium.

You must be thinking–so what? Well, this is the chance I was talking about. In one day, I just expanded my world and added three people to it. I told them about #sqlhelp and I encouraged them to blog and to be active in the community. I talked, I reached out, and I gave myself the chance to be relevant. You can’t do this in a virtual session. You can’t do this when you just read a book. You can’t do this when you don’t go out there.

I know it takes two to tango. Some people just don’t like to interact so just leave them alone (unless you’re like me who just pretend to not get the message :P). Don’t let it stop you from taking the chance though and from saying hello. Because that one hello can make a difference.

Conclusion
Don’t wake up one day realizing that there’s a world out there–as if that fact wasn’t staring at you every time you opened your eyes. When you get the chance to attend events like this–grab it. And as I said–going to one to learn is a given. But definitely don’t ignore the additional benefits. Make time to attend it, smile, and say hello. This way, you’ll get and learn more than SQL Server. There’s more to life afterall than databases :)

P.S. Shout out to Allen White (blog | twitter) , Kevin Boles (twitter), Tim Chapman (blog | twitter), Grant Fritchey (blog | twitter), Andy Leonard (blog | twitter), and Eli Weinstock-Herman (blog | twitter) who all said hi. And to the guy who sat beside me and gave me the book he won–THANKS! Shawn, right?

And for the wonderful note on my book and all the kind words, thanks to Thomas LaRock (blog | twitter). I was a lost puppy early this year (what an understatement). I listened to your podcast and I found my way home. I’m hoping I can pay it forward.

For more information on SQL Saturday, go to www.sqlsaturday.com.

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35 thoughts on “Never skip an SQL Saturday…

  1. Janice,
    What a great post! I was actually sitting here going through my demos for an event this week in Indy and next week at SQL Saturday #53 and your post was a nice pick-me-up for the afterrnoon. It’s always great to hear that the speakers at these things are truely appreciated. You get both a ReTweet and a Follow on this one.

    Cheers!
    AJ

  2. LOVE IT! Great post, great thoughts. Thanks for sharing your experience. I still haven’t attended a SQLSaturday yet. The February one here in Cleveland may be my first :)

    Erin

  3. This was hilarious! Thanks for sharing. And I couldn’t agree more, everyone should go to SQL Saturday’s, no where can you get so much for FREE!!!

    Keep writing, you are one of the few entertaining ones out there.

    • Thanks! And yes on SQL Sat Kansas! Give mikesql a hug and a hello for me. Be really early for Thomas LaRock’s session. It’s usually packed :)

  4. I, one of the instructors, love attending as much as you the attendees. Some of us don’t get paid, also gave up a Saturday, and sweat the entire time hoping our demos work and we don’t sound like a bumbling idiot up there.

    Really glad to here it was well enjoyed. I’ll have to do another.

    –Chris Skorlinski ReplTalk

    • Hi Chris, it’s fun to hear from the “other side”! I’m grateful you guys do this…it’s really noble. Thanks so much and do keep up the great work!

    • Glenn, me too! I hope I can go. If not this year, maybe next year. Thanks for leaving a post here on my blog. Your blog is one of the best out there. Thanks for sharing what you know.

    • Hi Jack, glad to finally meet! (sort of). Thanks for the comment. And good luck with SQL Saturday #49. I’m in Raleigh, NC so not sure if there’s anything I can do to help out. But let me know. :) I’d be glad to help out with tasks that can be done offsite.

  5. Janice,
    What a great post! I attended the SQL Saturday in Richmond VA earlier rhis year. And yes I too am “starstruck” with the Presenters and MVPs. I had the chance to meet Louis Davidson and Allen White. It is such a great thing to be able to interact both in the session and one on one with these SQL Server superstars. Your post inspired me to register for #SQLSaturday61 in DC in December. I am one of those wallflower types, but I WILL meet at least 3 new people at my next SQL Saturday! Also, great tip about having a pen. I have a goal of getting all of the authors of “SQL Deep Dives” to sign my copy. Just wish I had the funds to go to the PASS Summit in November. I have already started saving for next year.

    • David, we must be twins! I can relate to everything you said! Thanks for sharing :) Yes on meeting 3 new people! It’s so worth it.

  6. FANTASTIC post Janice, I think this is pretty much the embodiment of the PASS spirit/mission. By the way now I have to go buy a whole chicken suit just so when we meet for the first time I really freak you out when you say “OMG YOU LOOK LIKE YOUR TWITTER AVATAR….AGGHHHHHH!!!!!”

  7. Excellent point on “Chances”! At #sqlsat31 in Chicago I started out wanting to just absorb info in areas I don’t deal with daily and reinforce from new sources those that I do. I did learn a ton but by the end I realized I shouldn’t pass up the chance to meet people I normally only “see” online. So I skipped the last session to hang in the lobby with a bunch of the presenters, talking about the lolcat bible, etc., and I’m glad I did. Good times, can’t wait for another.

    • You know what I didn’t do, Chuck? Attend the after event party. I will next time. Let’s both try to on our next SQL Sat? That’d be fun! Thanks for leaving a comment.

      Btw, you have Brent in Chicago. I’m jealous. :)

  8. Hi! Janice,
    Great post. SQL saturday was a great event, I enjoyed it so much. For the first time I interacted with the SQL Gurus.. totally different experience than just reading a book or a blog.

    And it was really great meeting you too ..Thanks for all the nice words .Hopefully, I will look lil older when we meet next time :)

  9. Damn, this is an excellent post. Now I feel like I don’t work hard enough. You’re good!

    And yes, people need to talk more at SQL Saturday. I love the chance to interact and get to know great people, like you. The interaction is probably more important than the sessions (although you should attend sessions too).

    And yes, you should have gone to the after party. It was a blast. We sat around talking shop, exchanging war stories, it was a lot of fun.

    Thanks for this post. As other have said, it’s a great motivator.

    • Thanks, Grant! Could you tell I was nervous when I talked to you? Oh well, one explanation: starstruck ;) Hope to see you in another event soon.

  10. Very excellent post Janice. I came down from Charlotte to attend that event but I never know who you are (you did not display your name tag!! pls do so next time) I now feel bad not meeting you in person and say hello. It was my first SQLSaturday and had a wonderful time. Thanks for sharing your experience and how to approach these kind of events- which is very interesting. This is fantastic community that shares lots of knowledge for what we do on dialy basis. Looking forward to next SQLSaturday @ Columbia,SC. If you are planning to attend that we will definately meet there.

    • Suresh, I will wear my name tag in the future, promise. You are right about the community–it’s fantastic. I remember asking one MVP: “are you guys always THIS NICE?”

      Thanks for reading. Hope to see you soon.

  11. You mean there is somebody out there that actually looks like me. Poor fellow.

    Great post. We MVPs and presenters do what we do because of people like you that remember to say “thank you”. Most of us have a similar story (minus the health issues, thankfully) where we got help and decided we could pass it on.

    Keep it up. You will be surprised how far it can take you.

    • That wasn’t you, right? Maybe you were just messing with me. :D

      Thanks again, Geoff. For dropping by–and for all that you do.

  12. Pingback: Heckle Me, Summit Event and Mike Who? | StraightPath Consulting's SQL Server Blog

  13. Pingback: SQL Saturday 49 – Orlando Recap | StraightPath Consulting's SQL Server Blog

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