We are now 5-weeks from this years PASS Summit. It’s time to start getting ready for the event. Hopefully, you have already registered
(the video is from last year… but it works for now, leave a comment if you want to see more terrible PASS videos) for the summit. If not, let’s get that out of the way first by clicking on the image below…
With registration complete, the hardest, or most challenging, part of preparing for PASS is complete. Everything from here on in is gravy. But with any gravy, there is still a little preparation required. In my opinion, there are two keys takeaways from the PASS Summit. The first part is education – there are 100+ sessions and some world class speakers there sharing what they know. The second piece is networking – you will be in Seattle with 5,000 or so of your peers – it’s time to get connected. In this post, we’ll dive into some things to look at to prepare for your networking.
As members of an IT profession, networking is not always our strong suit. Quite frankly, I’m terrible at it. I may give of airs of being good with networking, but at the end of the day, I’m content to just watch and listen. There are some people that are good at walking up to a complete stranger and going, “Hey, glad to meet you. I’m Bob. Who are you and what do you do?” If you are like me, this isn’t the easiest think to do. There are, though, things we can do to pimp out our ability to network and get connected to people with less stress and effort.
First, there is LinkedIn. To start, if you aren’t already on LinkedIn, get on it. This is a professional focused social network that can be invaluable to getting connect to peers and recruiters. It has many similarities to Facebook but without the games and fan pages. This is a great place to upload and maintain your professional work history. And for many of us a great place to network with member of the local, national, and international community of SQL Server professionals.
If you don’t have a LinkedIn page created, I highly recommend getting it put together before PASS. It doesn’t take long and you’ll be able to work on it over time to start building and rebuilding connections to people you’ve worked with in the past and present.
One thing that sometimes concerns people, or their bosses, is broadcasting your resume through a social network. I wouldn’t let this concern you too much. There is a difference between putting yourself up on Monster, Dice, or some other job board. LinkedIn is about the network of people that you’ve met professionally and the opportunity not to lose those contacts. These connections could be how you or your boss finds your next co-worker or the consultant that gets your company out of the next bind.
Asking about twitter sounds like it should be a silly question, but it’s not. A couple years back,I heard that only about 7% of attendees were on twitter. Did you know that there are hundreds of SQL Server professionals using twitter on a daily basis? There is a living, breathing community of SQL Server developers, DBAs, MVPs, mentors, and Microsoft employees just hanging out within a 140-character question from you.
For those that don’t know what twitter is, it’s a micro-blogging social network. Where you can spout off about your daily life in 140-characters or less. But with those characters you can find out about what other SQL Server professionals are working on. You can get insight into who they are. And then you can comment back and start to get to know some of those you might eventually meet at the PASS Summit.
All well and good, but what are some of the more practical uses for twitter:
- Use the #sqlhelp tag to get help on SQL Server questions and issues
- Get up to the minute happenings from the PASS Summit.
- Find out where people are eating and drinking after the summit sessions
- Discover after hours SQL events, such as SQLKaraoke.
No need to head back to the hotel at night because with twitter you can find out where other people are and get connected to them right away. Want to know more about twitter – read all of these posts. Often times, a little twitter stalking at the PASS Summit can be how you form friends for the future. Though, don’t let it get too creepy and become the bad kind of stalking – stay out of the bushes. Except, of course, Bush Gardens.
You will need business cards. With so many people running around, there’s always a chance that you or someone you meet will forget one another. Your business card will help make an impression and get the connection. Don’t be shy because no one feels awkward about getting a business card – we just sometimes feel awkward giving them. When you are talking to people… ask for their cards.
But what about those of you that don’t have business cards? Or, those those that don’t have business cards that include your blog or social media links. Well, there’s still enough time, so go ahead and order them now. For the past several years, I’ve used moo for their mini-cards. But you can get them almost anywhere or print them yourself if you’d like.
Make sure you add in who you are and how people can contact you. Add your URL. Add twitter. Add a bit of your self to be a little memorable. And don’t forget to include your actual name.
At The Summit
When you get to the PASS Summit, you’re going to be ready to network. Even by preparing, your still going to need to be a little extroverted to get the networking going. To help, remember this… that person ahead of you that isn’t talking to anyone else. That person is just as scared to reach out and talk as you are. Make it a joke and break the ice.
Make sure you give out your business card like it’s going out of style. Divide up your business cards into a stack for each day and make it a goal to hand out that many each day. If you hear a good speaker, tell them you would like to chat afterwards and give them your card and get theirs. Let’s face it – for most of us, if we can jump to e-mail it’s easier to get around the anxiety of meeting strangers.
After The Summit
With some success, after the summit you will have a nice pile of business cards. When you get them, take a moment to write something about the conversation on the card. Something that will help you remember who the person is and what you talked about. Because after the summit you are going to be talking to them.
When you get home, take out all of the cards. Add them to your contact list. Follow them on twitter. Link to them on LinkedIn. And then send them an e-mail – remind them what you talked about and follow-up on that. A few of the connections you make might be the source for a future answer to a difficult problem you’ll be faced with.
What else would you do to prepare for networking at the PASS Summit?