How to have more SQLSaturdays?
Over the past year we've been working on the ambitious goal of building a national franchise for SQL community events, one that is based on local involvement, a repeatable process, and a reusable web site. We've had good success here in Florida (three events completed, a fourth scheduled for June here in Orlando) but so far no one has tried it outside of Florida. As we've spoken with various communities, it's more about worries than real objections, and I think they boil down to these:
Concern about being able to get enough speakers
Worries about the money needed to run the event
Definitely worries about the time needed to coordinate the event
And worries about getting volunteers to help
Before you read further, I hope you'll follow this link to a copy of our upcoming ad in The SQL Server Standard.
If you didn't have time to read it, the short story is that we (Brian, Steve, and myself) are committing our own time and money to the first four events that run outside of Florida. We know that doesn't remove the worries entirely, but combined with our extensive planning guide and our own experience we believe we can help other communities run successful free events.
That's one step, the next is to put together a meeting of people that are really interesting in hosting a SQLSaturday. We're still looking at options, but one plan is to bring them to Orlando (has the advantage of not requiring us to lease space, and we can leverage a lot of local volunteers to join the disucssion), and the other is to meet just prior to the PASS Summit on Monday or Tuesday (has the advantage of having a lot of the right people in the right place at the right time). We've also submitted a session for the Summit about SQLSaturday, but the final schedule has not been announced yet.
What we really need are a few more success stories, and for that we need YOU! If you're interested in attending a SQLSaturday in your area, use our suggest a location link to let us see where there are clusters that we might target. If you're a user group leader or just think you have what it takes to drive one of these events, drop me a note via the blog and we'll send you some docs and arrange a call to talk through some of our experiences.
I don't know if you were going to ask or not, but we get these two questions here and there:
What's in it for Andy, Brian, & Steve? It's a two part answer. From a business perspective, these events will be great places for us to advertise our services as SQL trainers (along with other service and product vendors). Just as important for us, it's a chance to give back a bit to the community. Nothing more complicated than that!
Why isn't this a PASS branded project? In our view PASS has not stepped up to drive community events, and our community has suffered for it compared to the .Net community with their Code Camps. We welcome PASS as a sponsor (and they did sponsor both #2 & #3) and while it's still very early in the game, we would like nothing better than to hand over the keys to PASS at some point, maybe when we've gotten to the point of seeing 40-50 of these events happen each year. Can we make it work? There's only so much we can do, but we're going to do what we can, and we think our success so far shows that we have the beginnings of a workable formula.
I hope you'll think about it, ask questions, and maybe gather a few volunteers and try it yourself. It is a lot of work, but I think you'll find it rewarding. Thanks for reading to the end!