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SQLAndy

I'm Andy Warren, currently a SQL Server trainer with End to End Training. Over the past few years I've been a developer, DBA, and IT Director. I was one of the original founders of SQLServerCentral.com and helped grow that community from zero to about 300k members before deciding to move on to other ventures.

Social Networking and SQLSaturday

I think we do a pretty good job of delivering technical content, but not such a great job at getting the attendees talking to each other. The speaker side of things has definitely turned into a social event, how do we do that for attendees?

I don’t have the answer yet, but we’ve made a couple changes to try to move in that direction. At registration we now ask (but not require) Twitter and LinkedIn info. We’ve put together a networking page that let’s you see everyone who registered and provided Twitter and/or LinkedIn info. It’s a way to see who will be there before you go, and a way to track down and connect with people you met at the event.

In addition, we announce registrations on Twitter for those with a Twitter handle, plus new abstracts and sponsor signups. All of that Twitter activity shows up on the front page of the event too.

I think we need more, especially photos. We’ve got some options – Gravatar, Twitter photo, and LinkedIn photo. I suspect we’ll end up trying all three in hopes of finding one for each attendee. We probably should put Twitter info on attendee badges, one more way to connect.

What else can we do with technology without going overboard? Could we try to match up people with similar interests? Turn it into a game/competition of some sort? Looking for ideas!

Comments

Posted by Glenn Berry on 28 April 2010

We have to keep trying to reach out to people who are not involved in the "SQL Community" even though they work with SQL Server. Convincing them that blogs and Twitter are not a frivolous waste of time can be a tough sell.

I think your ideas for trying to get attendees involved are a very good start.

Posted by Steve Jones on 28 April 2010

Put the avatars on badges. I think that will help those that participate in social networks to identify others.

Posted by ThomasLL on 29 April 2010

In New York, the meeting room (number 5) was a conference room with a table in the middle, not a class room style like the rest. Attendees were facing each other. This setup turned the talk into a panel-like discussion with attendees discussing the topic together - Database Normalization. I just had to keep the talk going like a meeting leader. It worked out great.

Maybe sessions speakers can submitted open discussions to help shy attendees learn to talk to one another.

Thomas

Posted by Andy Warren on 29 April 2010

Thomas, I'll put that on the list to think about. Our venue here in Orlando doesn't easily support that, but maybe we can twist things around to try it. Any interaction is valuable, we have to keep looking for more ways to drive it.

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