Organizing a SQL Saturday – Part 1 – Why Do It?

SQL Saturday Key Only

It is that time of year that things get busy for me.
I have a lot of conferences coming up that I’m either speaking at or just attending except 1; SQL Saturday in Washington D.C.
I thought that maybe some of you would be interested in following along with me as I work with my team to pull this event together.

To kick off this series, I thought it would be worthwhile to discuss why it is I step up to help lead the effort to pull this event together.

Why I run a community event

I remember first hearing about SQL Saturday and arranging my Saturday to attend the first one held in Washington D.C. Well, it took place in Reston, VA at the Microsoft technology center. It was convenient for me since I literally worked across the street. The only problem is that it was a Saturday. It only meant I had to do my 80 miles one-way commute on a weekend as well as every day during that week. I was all right with that. It would let me advance my knowledge of SQL Server. It was a small event, and it had enough of an impact on me I volunteered to help with the event the following year.
The next year I volunteered to coordinate the food for the day. This was coffee, drinks, and box lunches for everyone attending. This was when I first got to meet Tom Larock (B|T) when trying to figure out how to use network hardware to make coffee.

It was a fun event, and I got to meet a lot of the speakers I looked up to by volunteering and attending the speaker/volunteer appreciation dinner.A few months later I got to go on my first SQL Cruise and hang out with more speakers and authors I looked up to (still do too). That trip was inspiring and showed me the importance of the SQL community. As soon as we got home, I got in touch with the organizers of the Washington D.C. SQL Saturday and learned they were not going to do it again.
I was stunned. This was an event that changed lives!

I know it did because it helped change mine.

Without hesitation, which I now question sometimes, I stepped up and said I’d run the event. Information and contact info was relayed to me, and I started working on getting the first SQL Saturday I would be hosting underway all by myself.

What really was the reason

At the time of taking on the event, I was attending the North Virginia and Baltimore User Groups, but there wasn’t a real interest from either to run the local SQL Saturday. I stepped up and figured it all out on my own. While doing this, I thought about the reasons for doing all this work. What was I going to get out of it?
At the time I had recently become an independent consultant with my own company, Waterox Consulting. I wanted to make sure this event didn’t die for the community, and that was my main reasoning for taking it on. But truth be told there was a secondary reason, and that was to help get me, my name, and my company known more in the SQL Community. Heck, maybe it could even help to get recognized as an MVP or something else! Yepp, I was being selfish pulling this together.

Yepp, I was being selfish pulling this together.
It makes sense, though, doesn’t it? I fully admit I did it for the community and for me at the time.
Pull the event together, slap your name on it, get known.
You know what?
It worked.
Do I recommend running an event strictly to get known?

No, I don’t.

Go back and reread what I wrote above. First and foremost the event was for the community. It had an enormous impact on me, and I know it has a massive impact on others. I didn’t want to see the event miss a year after people had experienced it and wanted to continue learning and networking.

First and foremost the event was for the community. It had an enormous impact on me, and I know it has a massive impact on others. I didn’t want to see the event miss a year after people had experienced it and wanted to continue learning and networking. Now, having done a few events I understand that just doing it for the community and focusing on their experience will make you get known all by itself. There is nothing else you have to do to focus things to you. You are the one stepping up to make it happen and take a leadership role in the community. Everything else will naturally follow. Just remember, it will be a LOT of work.

So what are you saying?

Not much really, just really look at the reason you want to host an event like a SQL Saturday before you get involved with all the work it takes to pull together.

Is it for fame?
Is it for the community?
Finding a new job?
For profit? (good luck on this one)

Only you (and your team) know the reason.

Can you have more than one reason?

Of course!

It would be unrealistic to think there is only one reason for making this much effort. What I find the most interesting is how the primary reason for doing events such as a SQL Saturday changes as you do and experience more of them.

For me, it is to give back to the community that made me what I am. Will I continue to do this type of event? For now, yes I will. As the future comes to be and things in life and career evolve, will I then?

I don’t know yet.

What I do know is that, for me, the primary driving factor is to build the SQL community in the Nation’s Capitol area and helping with other events building that community more around the world.

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