Free training. Excellent speakers. Outstanding location. Great networking opportunities. Experienced and efficient event staff. These are the primary things you look for when you're going to give up your Saturday for a SQL Server conference. I'm glad to say that as SQL Saturday #70, scheduled for March 19th in Columbia, SC, is shaping up it looks like we're going to hit on all of these.
As is standard with SQL Saturdays, our is free. We are charging this year for the lunches, but we've kept the same caterers as last year because so many people made a point of telling us how good the food was. Why mess with a good thing? The sponsorship money not going towards lunches will be headed towards other areas to make the conference better, such as Women in Technology breakfast we're considering (men are invited, too), as well as some sort of shirt or take home for the attendees. But everything else is free. You just have to register to attend.
Thus far we've received 59 sessions from 29 different speakers. Of those, 2 are Microsoft employees and 11 are Microsoft SQL Server MVPs. The ones that don't fit these two categories are strong presenters with a good deal of experience in SQL Server, databases, and business intelligence and they have a track record of well-rated presentations at other events. Here is the current list:
SQL Server MVPs:
Other Awesome Speakers:
And we still expect this list to grow, as our call for speakers is open for one more week. If you're a speaker and you've been meaning to get your presentation in, time's running out! And remember, one of the reasons SQL Saturday exists is to give new and inexperienced speakers a chance. That's one of our most important goals when selecting speakers. We want to give everyone we can a chance. SQL Saturday - Columbia is about professional development, whether that means improving your technical skills, networking with others in the field, or improving those soft skills such as speaking in public.
We're headed back to the Midlands Technical College - Airport Campus for our SQL Saturday this year. The equipment is modern and the rooms are clean, big enough for what we're trying to do (and in the case of the auditorium last year, even bigger than what we need), and well laid out. The location has a great place to put our sponsors in the midst of the attendees without being obnoxious and we had plenty of space in the main thoroughfare to run registration and the book table. In addition, the location is central to hotels and restaurants and easily accessible from both the airport and the interstate. Plus, if you can stay an extra day on either side, it's near the gardens entrance to our award winning Riverbanks Zoo.
Great Networking Opportunities:
We intentionally built in extra time for networking into the schedule last year without having periods of "dead time." We're looking to do the Women in Technology breakfast. And if you've looked over the speaker list and know anything about any of our speakers, you know they are a part of the community and very approachable. That's one of the great things about the SQL Server community, how we share and look out for each other. If you've never been to a SQL Server related event, come experience what that's like first hand.
Experienced and Efficient Event Staff:
We're returning the staff that put on the previously successful SQL Saturday here. Most of the staff also put on the 2010 Columbia Code Camp and we'll likely be involved in the 2011 Columbia Code Camp in the fall as well. We believe in these types of events and we care about doing them right. We also attend these types of events outside of our area, so we know what it's like to be an attendee when things go right and when they don't. Our job is to make this an event you want to come back to, and we take that job very seriously.
Come One, Come All:
If you haven't registered already, please go ahead and do so. We had a waiting list last year and we expect the same this year, too. Get in early to get yourself a slot!