Off to See the Sun!
Last Saturday I had the pleasure of attending my third Sql Saturday. This time around, I was destined for Tampa, FL. Rather than flying down, I hitched a ride with John Welch (twitter | blog). The ride down and back was great. Although I have only met John once or twice in the past, I decided to take a chance and get to know an accomplished professional and who is well respected in the Sql Server community. The ride down and back was great! I learned a bit about Sql Saturday and am proud to say that I have a new friend.
- John brought to my attention that speakers were given the option of receiving a shirt for the event. I love getting stuff at these events — especially something I can use, and a shirt definitely ranks up there. However, many speakers have a closet full of shirts and the last thing they want is yet another shirt; incurring an expense for the event (speakers shirts are a fairly large expense) and wasting resources.
- The venue was clean, fairly open, and good. There were sessions in a building about a block away, but I did not have the opportunity to attend them.
- The speaker shirts looks really nice. They were a yellow and orange floral pattern that looked really fitting for the event.
- The foyer was large, open, and provided enough space for registration and vendor booths. Access to the vendors was open and easy.
- Registration seemed to be missing a dedicated speaker sign-in. Albeit, I arrived late and it could be that I missed it. Generally, this kind of thing is not required, but is a nice benefit to the speakers — especially considering they often need special instructions and receive addition things (shirts, swag, etc.).
- There were no session moderators. Again, this is not something that is required for an event of this size; however, one session I attended went over by more than 15 minutes, causing me to miss the first part of the closing ceremonies.
- There were no maps or volunteers to direct attendees. The venue was not very spread-out, so this was not a huge issue, but it was difficult to locate some of the rooms. Better sign-age (a problem I often face) would have been a good workaround.
- The volunteers were not obvious. I tend to at least ask my volunteers to wear matching colors (black shirts with blue jeans). I also insist that they walk around and make themselves available should anyone have any questions.
- In speaking with a few of the speakers, I found a few missed having speaker evaluations. Creative criticism is one of the fastest ways to improve and often evaluations provide that one-on-one that speakers lack mid-session.
What I learned:
- You don’t have to be a speaker to speak. Nothing beats an impromptu discussion between attendees about common practices and real-world problems.
- Networking is hard. I have a really difficult time walking up to a stranger and saying, “Hi, I’m Bobby! I write code!” After thinking about it a bit, I approached one or two people I knew and had them start introducing me to people. This broke-down those initial barriers and opened up ways to really getting to know people.
- Get personal cards printed. I currently only have business cards. They are pretty nice, but do not communicate how to get in touch with me. A few people I ran into had these and most places will print them for free. I might see if I can get a designer friend of mind to help me put something together.
- Don’t skimp on the hotel. This is a rule I generally follow when traveling for pleasure. I usually try to make it a point to stay in 4+ star hotels. This is fairly easy and affordable with websites out there like Priceline and Kayak. This time-around, I decided to stay in one of the conference-recommended hotels. This hotel was easily 2-stars.
Well, 2010 is over , but it was a fairly decent year. Here’s a quick run-down:
- Columbia Code Camp 2010 (Coordinator)
- The official release of the Exo framework (ExoGraph, ExoWeb, etc)
- Sql Saturday #48 (Coordinator)
- Passed my first Microsoft Certification exam (70-515), thus becoming a MCP
- Starting my new blog!
At the face of it, I don’t imagine it sounds like a lot, but taken individually, these are all huge accomplishments. I hope to at some point write-up a post on professional development and the steps I have been taking to move things forward – this has been a huge focus of my life over the past two years.
Looking forward, it seems like 2011 is going to be a big year:
- Complete my tests and achieve my MCPD: Web 4
- Sql Saturday #70 (Coordinator)
- Columbia Code Camp 2011 (Coordinator)
- Develop a specialization in SOA
- Learn more about Sql Server internals
- Learn more about the Cloud (Azure, etc)
- Get some more blog posts out there and put the finishing-touches on the site
- Build up my personal and professional network
- Attend and possibly speak at a community event
In addition to the above, I hope to do some posts on the following topics:
- SharePoint integration with Single Sign-On solutions
- Custom STS’s for use in Single-SignOn scenarios
- Breaking out of your shell to grow personally and professionally
- Running a successful community event
- @Jorriss No worries.. communities are like baseball fields.. if you build them, they will come... [#]
- @cdharrison sorry to see it... I bet she can pick up HBO on that thing.. [#]
- Great running into you this weekend, @Jorriss ... always good to run into my brother from a southern mother... [#]
- Huge thanks and congrats to the organizers and volunteers at #sqlsatatl#sqlpass [#]
- @MidnightDBA sorry, you looked super-busy.. no worries, ill try to make a show sometime soon [#]
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