A shy first-timer at PASS Summit 2013

It’s not easy to write about PASS Summit 2013 in a structured way. Just like the summit was buzzing with energy I feel like running around tossing keywords and hashtags at people: #SQLFamily! Ribbons! First timers! Sessions! #SQLKaraoke! Exhibitor booths! It was all a little overwhelming, very exciting and awesomely fun at the same time.

Tip #1: Tweet and use hashtags! You’ll connect with many people in the community and they might even approach you because they recognize you from Twitter. #SQLFirstTimers, #SQLPass and #Summit13 worked wonders for me :)

This year the PASS Summit was held in Charlotte, North Carolina. Since I traveled from Norway I arrived on Saturday to have a couple of days to adjust and be a tourist. Sunday was all about roller-coasters in Carowinds for me, so I’ll skip that day and fast-forward to Monday when the fun really began.

Even though this strictly wasn’t a part of the summit I have to mention Red Gate’s SQL in the City event on Monday, since that really was my first experience with the SQL community. I hadn’t signed up for the pre-conferences at the summit, but was lucky enough to get to attend this event instead. Red Gate’s tools have saved me a lot of time and frustrations, and it was a great opportunity to learn, talk with the developers and see people like Steve Jones and Grant Fritchey present live.

Red Gate also invited attendees to an informal networking event on Monday night. Deciding to go to that event was a great idea as that was where I met a lot of great people for the first time. I also met quite a few people who asked me if I knew Tone, a fellow Norwegian whom they all missed. Unfortunately I didn’t, but we quickly got introduced via Twitter. Hopefully we’ll get together at the SQL Server User Group Norway one day!

Tip #2: Say hi to people! I’m a shy introvert and my first day alone in a foreign country at an event where I knew no one was truly terrifying, but I met a couple of great people who introduced me to some other great people who introduced me to some other great people and after a little while it became easier to introduce myself :) Just go for it!

Tuesday was the first day of the actual Pass Summit 2013 conference for me. I attended the “Get to know your community” session hosted by Kevin Kline and Kendal Van Dyke, met up with my PASS Summit buddy Aaron Nelson and the rest of his first-timers group, attended the First-Timers Orientation Meeting, and then the Welcome Reception. And if that wasn’t enough, the night continued on with some great #SQLKaraoke!

PASS Summit 2013 BadgeAll attendees had a name badge with their name, company, country and Twitter handle, as well as various ribbons on it. The badges were a great way to connect – you could easily take a look at the ribbons to see who were Speakers, Volunteers, MVPs (and more), instantly follow someone on Twitter, or just start a conversation about their company or home country.

On Wednesday I met a couple of nice ladies in the elevator at our hotel. We were all wearing our name badges with the First Timer ribbon, started to talk and decided to have breakfast together. For lunch I met up with fellow Norwegians at the PASS Chapter Luncheon. It was actually a bit strange to speak Norwegian again for an hour, but nice to get some new contacts in my home country.

Tip #3: Join someone for breakfast, lunch and dinner! There are always someone who are too shy to sit down at a table and introduce themselves, why don’t you try to be the one who joins them instead?

Between all the food and coffee breaks I attended my first keynote and sessions. Trying to build my session schedule was actually quite frustrating – there were always at least a handful of sessions I wanted to attend! I really look forward to getting the USB stick with all the session recordings so I can watch the sessions I missed. In the evening I attended the Exhibitor Reception where I learned quite a lot about the vendors and also got some nice SQL swag. And if that wasn’t enough, the night continued on with some great #SQLKaraoke (again)!

On Thursday I started to feel the effects of not enough sleep and too much #SQLKaraoke :) I attended the Women In Technology Luncheon and Panel Discussion which was a lot more than an event just for women. The topic of the day was “Beyond Stereotypes: Equality, Gender Neutrality, and Valuing Team Diversity”. I encourage you to watch it on PASS TV. One of the highlights for me was Gail Shaw‘s response to the question “Do you have to make an effort to fit in?” – “No I don’t, because I can’t bloody well be bothered”. That answer earned a lot of applause from the audience!

On Thursday night we all gathered in the NASCAR Hall of Fame for the Community Appreciation Party. And as if that wasn’t enough, the night continued on with some great #SQLKaraoke (again again)! I had no energy for karaoke that night, but spent a couple of hours getting to know Bob Pusateri and Andy Yun even better before going to bed early. The next time I’m going to PASS Summit I will definitely work harder on not getting tired ;)

Friday was a bit of a sad day and I wished it could be Tuesday so I could start all over again and do even more. Learn more, meet more people, be more active in the community. But instead of looking back I’m going to take all of these great experiences with me, look forward and use the new inspiration and energy to grow personally and professionally in 2014. I hope to attend and volunteer at a SQLSaturday, maybe even help organize one in Oslo. I hope to share my new knowledge with my co-workers and help improve our solutions at work. I hope to learn even more and get to know my new connections better. Maybe I’ll even make my own presentation and be a first-time speaker some day!

Tip #4: Keep in touch with everyone you met and take good care of your new #SQLFamily :)

About Cathrine

Girly Geek. SQL Server BI developer & DWH architect. SQLSaturday Oslo organizer [sqlsaturday.com/317/]. Loves design, sci-fi, fantasy, coffee, chocolate and smilies :)

7 Comments

Nice blog post Cathrine! I must say though that from the first moment I introduced myself to you on Monday at the Red Gate SQL in the City event you didn’t seem very shy at all. :-) It was a pleasure getting to know you, and I look forward to seeing you again soon, perhaps at the Denmark SQL Saturday event next year!

Best,

Kevin

It’s usually the first “hi” that’s difficult, so thanks for taking care of that bit! ;) I’m registered for SQLSaturday #275 in Denmark next year, so if you’re going I’ll see you there!

And that is exactly why I sought you out to introduce myself after you tweet about being shy! :-)

I do hope I can make it to Denmark next year!

It was great to meet you as well. And as I mentioned, I’m an intentional extrovert which is another way of saying I’m a shy introvert.

I will have to ask you about typography in the future :-)

I might just have to borrow that “intentional extrovert” phrase :) Thanks for asking those follow-up questions on what made the experience great – at least it started a thought process for me that helped me write this post :)

I know exactly where you’re coming from, but you did better than me last week – I always seemed to end back at the hotel too early and then kind of wished I went out to SQL karaoke and suchlike. Still, by my standards I did okay in terms of grabbing random strangers in the hope that we’d have something worth talking about – generally we did :-) Now I have a good checklist for how to do it properly next year.

If you spoke with random strangers you did well! :) Are you on Twitter? If you are, just jump in and say hi to the community. Maybe you’ll even get to know someone you can look forward to meeting at the SQL Karaoke next year! :)

Leave a Reply