2016-10-14

PASS Summit: Advice From A Newcomer

PASS Summit 2016

PASS Summit 2016 is coming very soon. If 2016 is going to be your first time at the conference, you may be looking for (or have already received) some advice. I've been seeing quite a bit of advice myself, much of it quite good. I do suspect that most of the advisers are seasoned veterans with many years of conference experience under their belts. I'd like to offer a different perspective. 2015 was my first PASS Summit, so as a sophomore, my point of view might be a little different. Hopefully, it will be relatable to you, the first-timer.

The "Right" Way

There's no right or wrong way when it comes to PASS Summit. We all have different priorities. We all get to make our own choices. @SirSQL elaborates on this better than I could.

Speakers

Last year while at the conference, I learned the speakers are not paid. They volunteer their time and expertise to us, the attendees. That's really admirable. I'm a little reluctant to generalize their feelings, but I think it's safe to say nearly all of them would like to get your session feedback. It's a very small way to repay them for their generosity. If you choose to do so, there will be opportunities at the end of every session. There was also an online option last year. One suggestion I'd make is to be sure to take some written notes. I tried to rely on my memory--it was a bad plan. Also, try to go into some detail. "I liked it." is better than nothing, but doesn't help the presenter much. They're going to want to know why you liked it (or didn't like it).

SQL Celebrities

There will be a lot of "SQL famous" people. Last year, I was hesitant to approach any of them. I'm going to change that this time around. There are many of them that have helped me here and there throughout my career (both directly and indirectly) because of their contributions to the SQL community. At the very least, I'll walk up, introduce myself, offer a quick "thank you for all you do", and try not to be a doofus. My suggestion to others is be aware of the speaker's time: try not to monopolize it (other attendees like you may be waiting to say hi). Also note that at the end of presentations, most speakers are crunched for time to pack up and leave so the next speaker has ample time to set up.

Social Media

There are many online outlets that can give you an idea of what the SQL community is up to before, during, and even after the conference. There's Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook to name a few. I'm not on Facebook, but I've been told there is a group/forum for SQL Server/PASS. On Twitter, search on some of these hashtags: #SqlSummit, #SqlPASS, #SqlFamily, or go directly to the profiles for PASS or Women In Technology.

Networking

I'm an introvert, so I don't have much wisdom to impart. If you're an extrovert, you'll probably do just fine on your own. I'll just throw this out there: Andy Warren and Steve Jones host a networking dinner. I went last year. It's easy. Real easy. Just show up at the restaurant and Andy & Steve will say hi, invite you in, and introduce you to a few people. You sit down and enjoy a nice meal with some other SQL pros. There are some other official/unofficial "after hours" events. Just don't feel like you have to keep up with the Joneses (see The "Right" Way, above).

Closing Thoughts

Last year, I arrived in Seattle with the intention of going to the daily sessions and learning as much as I could. My goals didn't stretch beyond that. I plan on doing more this year, but I'm not going to run myself ragged with 24/7 SQL euphoria. I'll be out and about more this time, but I know I'll also seek out some quiet time too. I'm sure I'll find the right balance. Hopefully you do too!


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