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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.

My Evolving Goals for Attending Conferences

The first conference I went to back in 1999 I attended every session, the bonus sessions, the breakfasts, everything. It wasn’t a desire to get the maximum value for the registration cost as much as a desire to get the maximum value. I was new to IT and this was a gold plated chance to learn. I did learn, a lot. By the end of the week I was exhausted, but more knowledgeable. Aside from co-workers who also attended I had a handful of interesting conversations, mostly at meals.

I’ve gone to at least one major conference a year since then, often more. In those early years I kept going to a session every hour, every day, hungry for learning, but also wanting to treat it like work. Sessions are there, I should be attending – I’m getting paid to attend. It took a while,but I got to the point of understanding that missing a session,whether to explore the city, handle a problem at work, or just talk to someone interesting, was ok.

For the past couple years at the PASS Summit I don’t think I’ve sat through more than a handful of presentations over the three day event. It’s not that I know everything, far from it. Part of it is that I get some technical learning through out the year at SQLSaturday. Part of it is I know that I can watch it later on the DVD’s. Most of it is preferring to spend time chatting with people. That’s quite a shift from where I started.

That shift feels ok. I’ve gradually become more interested in the people side of work, and just a bit less interested in the technical details. Not that my interest in technology has waned, it’s just not enough by itself, more it is that I feel like I need to balance my portfolio, make the same kind of investment in people and networking that I have made in technology.

If I were to change careers tomorrow, I’d be writing checks to go to events, and I’d be soaking up the sessions. But I wouldn’t just be going to the presentations, I’d be reading the blogs, cataloging the speakers, figuring out who was who, and who I should meet. More of a balance from the start? Perhaps.

Lots for me to think on, then I’ll write some more.


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