My friend Tim Mitchell wrote an awesome personal account a while back and shared it again recently. It’s a tale I have seen and heard all to often. A tale of a really smart guy who just lacks the courage and confidence to step forward and participate in the social aspects of our great community. If you have had the privilege of meeting me at the Summit, or anywhere else for that matter, you know I don’t suffer from “Wallflower Syndrome”. As a matter of fact I have the incurable reverse of that infliction.
If you meet me for the first time this year at the Summit, or the second time my memory isn’t what it use to be, I will ask you that question. Usually, in a very loud and assertive way. I get a lot of smiles, some shocked looks and sometimes brushed off completely after asking. Oh, and I may just come up to you out of nowhere to ask you. You got it, I come up to complete strangers and engage them with confidence and good cheer. I’ll let you in on another little secret, if I see you sitting alone and shunning the crowd I will make it a point to come shake you awake. I pluck wallflowers. As Tim pointed out, if you aren’t engaging in the social aspect of the Summit you are missing half of the reason to be there at all.
That’s right, even if you blow me off my memory is so shoddy I will forget that you gave me the stink eye and come back for a second round. I may even send in others to help me in my task of drawing you in to the crowd. You have to fight kicking and screaming to get me off your back and let you sit on the wall all alone, you know like at your last high school formal. I will get the message eventually though. There are so many people that do come to the Summit secretly hoping that they will be invited to go sing karaoke, or a least go hang out and socialize that I will forget about you (shoddy memory again) and just go have a good time.
To me, the Summit is more than just education from the best minds in our field. It is about making connections with others. You will meed the greats at the Summit, you know who I’m talking about, the Paul Randal’s, Brent Ozar’s and Steve Jones’s of the SQL Server world. You will also meet peers, people just like you that grind out the less glamorous parts of our job every day. You may end up being a mentor to some, even though you don’t think you are anything special. You will also be mentored by those whom have something to share with you. I still get emails and stay in contact with people I’ve only ever met at the Summit. I got emails this year from people that haven’t been to the Summit in two or more years to let me know they would be there this year and are looking forward to reconnecting. That’s the kind of deep connections you can make with people too. It isn’t just all about “expanding your network”, it’s about making lasting friendships with people who are in the same boat with you.
If you choose not to do anything social at the Summit that’s OK too. Not the outcome I was hoping for, but not the end of the world ether. Maybe you will make one new friend or go to just one of the after hours events. At the end of the day you did make the effort to come to the Summit. Hopefully, you will be back again, and I’ll have another chance to get the stink eye from you (damn my shoddy memory!).