One of the things we’re trying to do at SQLRally (May 2011 in Orlando!) is support and grow the social events that happen after the close of the official program. How do we do that? I’ve got a couple ideas, hope you’ll send more:
- Provide an ‘after hours’ page on the SQLRally web site (coming soon!) where attendees can view/list events that they want publicized (Denny Cherry has done something similar for the 2010 PASS Summit, a nice service)
- We start talking now about having these events and some guesses around what the official program looks like.
That’s it? As I write it I’m wishing there was more, but I’m also not sure there should be. We want to get people thinking about it from the time they sign up about the after hours stuff, whether it’s browsing the list or creating an event of their own.
On Wed (the pre-con) say, we’re planning no ‘official’ events after 6 pm. On Thurs we’re expecting the schedule to run through 7:30 pm, and on Friday we’ll have nothing after 6 pm – as of right now that, but I don’t expect it to change much. We’re hoping that we’ll have an ‘official’ networking event from 5:30 to 7:30 on Thursday.
That leaves a lot of time to explore Orlando and to meet people you want to meet – or refresh relationships already built. With an expected 600 attendees I’ll be there are plenty of diverse interests. If you’re planning to attend start thinking about your interests and what kind of mini event you might organize – maybe it’s a photo walk, maybe it’s an airboat ride, maybe it’s just a dinner at Emeril’s. I bet you can find a few people that would be thrilled to meet someone new and have some fun after hours.
The challenge I have at these events is that there are a lot of people I know, lots of friends, and I want to spend time with all of them. Worth doing, but it’s easy to wind up with a lot of speakers and bloggers off in their own groups and not meeting new people. Here’s my suggestion – make Wed and Thurs evening about meeting new people, make Friday night the night we fall back into our comfort zones and hang out with old friends. It’s not necessarily all old friends or new, but think about it, set a goal for yourself of meeting some new people – it’s worth doing.