Monday, 22 October 2012

How do you introduce yourself to people at SQLPass Summit?

In less than two weeks, I'll be on a flight from London to Seattle to attend the SQLPass Summit at the Washington State Convention & Trade Center in Seattle, WA.  Essentially I will be travelling a round trip of 10,000 miles and seven time zones to be there.  Why would a Scottish girl, born in Kilmarnock and now living in the Home Counties, end up at the SQLPass Summit, I hear you ask?

SQLPass Summit 2012 will be my second Summit, and it already feels like what we Scots call a 'homecoming'. I mean this in the traditional Scottish sense of far-flung people who return to their home - I think, in the US, the word 'homecoming' has lots of different meanings. As a Scot, I see it as a 'trip home' where you belong, a warm place. Summit is s a great place to meet people who are as passionate and excited about SQL Server and data as I am. I love meeting other Business Intelligence specialists, and we often swap 'horror stories' about deployments and projects. There is a real sense of community that happens outside the sessions. 



So, it is worthwhile to attend SQLPass Summit? I'm travelling thousands of miles to do so, giving up my vacation time. This is my second Summit. I'm a 'repeat customer' since I felt at home amongst people who 'get it' about SQL Server. That doesn't mean that everyone is an expert; there are real experts, and 'newbies' who just want to learn. That's why they have a range of sessions from beginners to experts. Further, I think it is impossible to know everything about SQL Server. As a product, it is simply too big now. In version 6.5, maybe. However, there are so many 'veins' to SQL Server, it's possible to wear some 'hats' more comfortably than others. Some of the beginner sessions allow me to learn about new areas of SQL Server that I don't normally get the chance to explore; it allows me to have 'me time' to get the 'skinny' on a topic - otherwise I don't get the chance!

How do you introduce yourself and start chatting to technical people, for example, other SQLPass Summit delegates? It's tough walking up to someone you don't know, in a large conference. I know - I still get very shy when I meet new people. Here's a tip: if you fancy chatting to someone, then just try one of the speakers and/or volunteers. I tend to ask people (a) their name (b) what they love most about the technology and (c) a bit about their role, and how they got there. I try this trick since I'm shy myself, and find it easier to draw someone else to talk than do it myself. At SQLPass Summit, there will be a lot of DBAs, devs, and Business Intelligence people around, so you will probably have shared experiences in doing similar things. One reason I do speak is to overcome my shyness. I think that is has helped to 'manage' shyness better, rather than having it go away.

Saying 'hi' to one of the speakers or volunteers is a great way to start; they will know their way around, and, by definition, the 'speakers' will like to speak! SQLPass Summit is a friendly place, and I hope that people will feel at home there - a 'homecoming' of SQL Server fans.

I have to mention that I'm also speaking - twice! Since Summit is the pinnacle of the US SQL Server scene, I want to emphasise that this is a huge honour and I'm tremendously grateful to have been picked. The speakers all work very hard to try and make sure that the audience learn something.  Here are my topics:

Business Intelligence and Data Visualization in SQL Server 2012 [BID-204]

Mobile Business Intelligence for Everyone, Now! [BID-102]

If you do see me around, please come up and say 'hi'. I can introduce you to other people, and I'm more than happy to share my love of Business Intelligence to anyone who will listen.

If you've any other tips for 'ice breakers', please feel free to post in the comments. I will learn from your feedback, too! Thank you in advance.

See you there!

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