This is a guest editorial from Brad McGeHee.
SQL Server user groups can be a powerful tool in advancing your DBA career. I attend dozens of them every year, and I can personally vouch that taking a few hours out of your busy schedule each month to attend a meeting can produce a high rate of return. For example:
Learn Something New: The focus of most meetings is continuing education. Where else can you get free training on a monthly basis?
Network: Whether it is to keep up with old contacts, or to make new contacts, attending user group meetings allows you to connect with people who share the same career goals, and interests, you do.
Get Answers to Your Questions: If you have a difficult DBA-related question, ask other members for their help and advice.
Look for a New Job: If you are looking for a new job, let everyone know. Many job opportunities are never published, and a group of DBAs is the best source of this inside information.
Fill Vacant Positions: On the flip side, if your company has a DBA opening, share it with the group. It is a lot less expensive than taking out an ad or paying a technical recruiter.
Get Free Stuff: Most user groups meetings give out lots of free prizes, including tee-shirts, books, software, high-tech gadgets, and much more.
Get Involved: Besides attending user group meetings, many members like to get directly involved with the group, participating in user group governance, speaking, managing the user groups’ website, or volunteering for helping out at a community event, such as local Code Camp, TechFest, or SQLSaturday. This high-level participation is great personal branding; helping to get your name known throughout the SQL Server community.
SQL Server user groups are scattered throughout the United States, and the world. In fact, there are more SQL Server user groups outside of the United States than inside. To find out if there is a user group in your area, visit the SQLPASS Chapters webpage. And if there isn’t a SQL Server user’s group in your area, start one. Information on how to start one is available from the SQLPASS’s Potential Chapter Resources webpage. Additional information on user groups can be found at www.ugss.codezone.com.
So tell us what you think about SQL Server user groups. What benefits have you received from attending, and why would you recommend other DBAs to participate?