SQL Server user groups are everywhere, literally all over the globe there are SQL Server professionals meeting on a regular basis, sharing ideas, solving problems, learning about how to do new stuff and new ways to do old stuff and it’s all for free.
I don’t have detailed figures but of all the SQL Server professionals there are only a small number of them attend these user groups. Those people are the people that are taking the time and making then effort to make themselves better at their chosen trade, more employable and having a good time. For free. I don’t know why but there are many people that don’t seem to want to be the best they can be.
Some of you enlightened people that do already attend could be doing more though. Have you ever spoken at your group? Not just in the break while you have a mouthful of pizza and a drink in your hand but had the attention of the whole group listen to you speak. It doesn’t need to be a full hour, it doesn’t need to be some obscure deeply technical demonstration of SQL Server internals, just a few minutes on something that you do that might help other people with their daily work. A neat process that helps you get from Problem A to Solution B.
There is no need to get concerned that becoming a speaker means that you suddenly have to know more than anyone else in the room. This is you talking about something that you experienced. What you did, what you would repeat, what you might do differently next time. No one in the audience can pick you up on a technicality. If someone comes out with a great idea that you hadn’t thought of, say “That’s a great idea, I didn’t think of that while we had the problem on our hands. I’ll try to remember that for next time”. If someone is looking to show you up for picking the wrong decision (and this, in my experience, is very uncommon indeed) then you simply give a reply like “Well, at the time we chose that option. Perhaps another time then we would tackle things differently but we were happy with how our solution worked”.
It’s sharing things like this that makes user groups have a real value, talking about how you coped with or averted a disaster, a handy little section of code or using a tool in a particular way that you take for granted that might, just might, be something that other people haven’t thought of that solves a problem or saves some time for them. At the next meeting you might get the same benefit from a different person and so it goes on. As individuals benefits so the community benefits. For free.
Things I encourage you to do;
If you are a chapter or user group leader; encourage someone from your group who has never spoken before to start speaking.
If you are a chapter or user group attendee that hasn’t spoken before; speak for at least 5 minutes on something related to SQL Server at any group meeting.
If you don’t currently attend a user group; please go along to you nearest one when they are meeting next and invest in yourself and your future.
UK user group details are here: http://sqlsouthwest.co.uk/national_ug.htm , PASS chapters outside the UK are found via http://www.sqlpass.org/PASSChapters/LocalChapters.aspx.
If you are unsure of how you might achieve any of these things then get in touch with me*, I’ll give you specific advice on getting started on any of the above points and help you prove to yourself what you are capable of. SQL Community – be part of it and make it better.
Let me know how you get on in the comments.