SQL Saturday #31 Chicago

The Event
Yes this was a month ago, but I wanted to get my thoughts down on this event and share the experience from my standpoint. First of thanks to the folks that spent all their time putting this great event together. Arron, Wendy, and Ted did a great job of planning and running the show.

Me Volunteer?
I showed up extra early as I had volunteered to assist. I wasn’t sure what I was in for but I’m easy-going so I told them whatever they needed. I ended up working the registration table first thing. Jumped right in putting the badge holders together, prepping the tables, then handing out packets, etc. Met some very nice people and it’s funny how with common interests you make instant friends. The first part was a bit hectic and I learned a lot of things if in that situation again. We got through it and I don’t think anyone was disappointed with the process so that is good.

I was pretty open about helping out wherever the rest of the day. I would have liked to sit in on various sessions but frankly I was more there to provide help and meet some of the speakers and twitter folks. To that end I was assigned as a monitor in one of the rooms. This actually worked out pretty well as I was able to see some really good sessions and didn’t have to jump around and make difficult decisions of where to go. I knew where I had to be and just took in the show.

A New Speaker Is Born
One great moment early in the day was seeing my coworker Dave Levy (Blog|Twitter) present his first SQL Community session to a packed house. He had practiced the content with me prior to the event so I know what it was about. The great part was seeing him spend so much time preparing for something and just nailing it to a packed house. It’s nice to see people work so hard for something and then do a good job. It was a real feel good moment for me and I think it has solidified Dave’s desire to keep sharing his wealth of knowledge.

The Real Benefit
The day did get a bit long towards the end but the best part didn’t come till after the sessions were officially over. At the end of the day it was nice to put some faces and real life personalities with twitter and blog personalities. In most cases I was able to share a few words with most and in some cases dinner and some drinks afterwards. The networking was the best part of the event and taking advantage of the after events was the best time spent in my case.

I urge anyone that is interested in getting more involved to volunteer for things like this. Being in the mix is the best way to make some good contacts, learn a lot of great things, and meet some real cool people. I plan on being an active member in the SQL Community and will look to take a greater role in the local PASS group as well as in planning and volunteering for the next SQL Saturday in the area.

Bottom Line
Best investment to date in my professional career. Cost nothing but a Saturday and time away from Family. I learned a ton, made 20 new contacts and felt good about giving back to all the people in attendance.

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