The doors close, lights turn off, and cars begin to pull out of the parking lot. Another SQL Saturday event has come and gone, but this time it was different. The reason for this was from the hard work, effort, countless hours, and collaboration that took place.
This past year I wanted to embark on a journey that I hadn’t done before which was volunteering for a SQL Saturday event. Malathi Mahadevan (B|T) afforded me this opportunity to get involved along with John Morehouse (B|T) . Little did I know what I was about to embark on.
Listen, most attend these events by showing up and listening to a talented speaker pool. After the event attendees stick around for a raffle, and share some laughs with friends. I know because I’ve attended several of these events; I’ve also spoken at a lot of events other than SQL Saturday’s and given presentations. In those times you get to talk with other speakers, attend some nice dinners, and kick back with some deep conversations. What is missing?
SQLSaturday403 in Louisville, Ky changed my mindset drastically. If you have never been apart of something in this nature then I would recommend it; I don’t care if you are a speaker or an attendee at a user group. The hard work and effort that goes into pulling an event such as this off is phenomenal. I walked away with a new appreciation for what goes on behind the scenes along with learning a few things:
- People are hungry to learn
- It takes a strong team behind the scenes to pull something like this off
- Dedication and determination are prevalent
- Organization is key
We had a very talented speaker pool come in to town this year who provided attendees with a number of good sessions. The vendors on hand were second to none and put on a great show for everyone to see. What really got my attention was seeing all the hard work we, as a group, put into it. As we crossed that finish line and the day of the event came we saw a record crowd which maxed out our venue with people beating the door down on a waiting list to get in. That means two things to me:
- Shows just how eager people were wanting to learn
- We were doing something right
Enter stage left > the twitter wall.
Something new that I have not seen before was, what became, the infamous twitter wall. The idea stemmed from a colleague/friend of mine John Morehouse.
The wall was located in our eating/silver sponsor area and was a big hit throughout the day. It also provided a glimpse into some of the fun we were having:
One of the cool things that I liked about this idea was seeing all the attendees thoughts as they were sitting through the sessions. The #SQLSat403 was generating quite a buzz, this was proof that what was happening in Louisville was a great thing. The vendors located in this area were pretty stoked about the twitter wall as they were getting some love as well!
All of the above shows signs of success, or so I thought, until I got blindsided again by feedback I received from the attendees, vendors, and speakers. Some of the comments that will remain anonymous are:
“I apologize; I’ve been doing this wrong for so long with my code and I am rejuvenated to fix it and make it more efficient“
“This event is free; how is that possible?”
“I am missing out on #SQLSat403; that seems like it is the place to be today”
“I definitely will be coming back to this next year”
Those are some pretty encouraging comments. As with anything, our group realizes that we had hiccups. Some may not have even been noticeable, but the organizers noticed them. Guess what, we are making a list and looking for ways to continue to improve on this event. There is a buzz going on here in the city of Louisville around this event; know that we have a dedicated team in place that will continue to work hard in order to make this one of the best events around.
What can you do?
If you attend one of these events in the future, anywhere in the world, I implore you to walk up and thank the volunteer. I know the group I am associated with are an amazing bunch, and that will go for the rest of the organizers worldwide. It’s been an honor and privilege to serve; looking forward to many more.
How about you? Will you volunteer? Will you speak? You can check out a full schedule on the SQL Sat website here.
To my fellow organizer – it truly was an amazing ride and I thank you for the opportunity.
To the attendees – it was a blast to see you all along with seeing a lot of light bulbs go off and discussions we had. Hope you guys had as much fun as I did.
To the speakers – spent a lot of quality time with a lot of you and I look forward to coming to your venues to speak in the future. Thanks for investing time in our community so others may learn.
To the vendors – we couldn’t have done it without you; look forward to cultivating that relationship with you as we move forward.
It’s game time folks; let’s get it done. If you reach one then it is a success.