Our most recent meeting was May 12, 2009, and we had 23 attendees. We started off the evening with news of upcoming events (SQLSat Birmingham, SQLSat Pensacola, Day of DNN) and setting a date for our kickoff meeting for our next SQLSaturday Orlando (May 23 at Chipotle in Altamonte if you are in the area). From there we spent some time talking again about networking, and here is a quick result of the informal survey:
- Everyone present believed networking is useful
- Most rated their networks at less than 30, only a couple exceeded 100 - which led into the discussion of how we all define our networks a bit differently
- Almost everyone was on LinkedIn, though some weren't using it actively, and others weren't sure they were using it to best effect
- Most had tried Facebook, but the overall impression was that it wasn't suited for business, especially compared to LinkedIn
- No one using Plaxo, only a couple using Twitter, no one blogging
- Several belonged to networking groups
- Everyone said that they believed they could be better at networking and would enjoy the chance to learn
- One person attributed their current job to a connection that they had maintained via LinkedIn
We then spent about 15 minutes actually networking, with the goal that we had to meet three new people. You never know how that will work out, but instantly everyone jumped in and there was this terrific buzz in the room. I think part of it was setting the stage, might not have gone as well if we hadn't chatted about networking first. At about 5 minutes in I called out for everyone to meet their second person and everyone smoothly moved around. I made a couple introductions and tried to say hello to all the new attendees while it was going on, and then it was time for the third rotation. We had only one person who only met 2 people (I think due to the first two being interesting conversations) so we introduced him to a third person at the end. As I think about it more I think it's critical that we do set the stage to tell people that we are all going to do this for x minutes, pulls them into the game. From a user group perspective, I still believe the big win is to make it as much about networking and catching up with friends as it the technical presentation.
We stopped for pizza and soda, and then moved to our guest speaker, MVP Plamen Ratchev. I've gotten to know Plamen well over the past year and he's been a great supporter of SQLSaturday here in Florida, so it was a bonus to have him available to speak to the group. He did about 75 minutes on plan caching, parameter sniffing, and plan freezing. Very nice presentation, some good questions during and after, and I think everyone was pleased with the material. Plamen stayed afterward for an hour to answer questions and enjoy our post meeting social time, lots of good small conversations.
Good meeting, and maybe I learned a bit more about how to facilitate networking, though there is still a ways to go.