When thinking about attending PASS Summit each year I don’t spend much time deciding. I have not missed a Summit yet and hope I won’t miss one in the future. This post is meant to help those that may be deciding whether or not to go or for those that have decided to go but really don’t know what to expect.
At PASS Summit there are many things to do. The list below resonates in my mind every year:
- Learning from others
- Finding those you have not seen and catch up with them
- Meet new people, your favorite MVP or MCM or just a great figure to finally put a face to the name
- Learn new things
Some of my favorite Summit experiences include meeting people like (not a definitive list) Kalen Delaney, Paul Randall, Kimberly Tripp, Brent Ozar, and the list could go on. Meeting these people for me was a treat and has made my PASS trips great to reconnect and chat with them and so many others to name off. The PASS Attendee parties are also one of the highlights because it was a chance to talk with peers and some of the famous ones in a setting that was not about database. You learn things like Kalen loves air hockey and some DBAs are really funny, but more than that, you can chat with the leaders of the PASS organization and board members. These are times I will remember for a very long time.
For you first timers, you are in for a treat. This is the first Summit for you and hopefully won’t be the last. For you there is finding and meeting people and speakers that you have seen for many years, maybe, and now they are there to shake hands with and chat with you. They are not untouchable, they are real. Friendly SQL Server Professionals that will actually be willing to chat with you. There is the Expo where you can see products you have heard about for a while and actually see how they work. It is NOT all sales and hype, there are actually some very good demos there. You will always get some sales but this is your chance to get to know the vendors better. Here are a list of things I would do as a first timer having been through many Summits and I could actually be a great first timer now.
- Find out who is presenting and mark the ones that you MUST see and then those that you would like to if the opportunity presents itself
- BUY THE RECORDINGS, no matter how good of a time manager you are, you will inevitably get overwhelmed with the amount of stuff that is out there and the people who are there, this will give you the opportunity to watch the recorded sessions you missed because you are networking.
- Did I already mention buying the recordings before the show?
- Make time for the Community Lounges, SQLCAT Support Center and anything that you cannot get online or in a presentation. Get in front of people and BRING BUSINESS CARDS to give out so that people get to know who you are and they may give you their contact information. BUILD A NETWORK.
- Go to the MUST see presentations since education is still a huge part of the Summit
- Attend the Keynotes or watch them, sometimes they surprise you with announcements you won’t get anywhere else.
- Get to know the Board of Directors of PASS. Hold them accountable as they lead the organization that you are a member of.
- Investigate opportunities to volunteer for PASS or one day run for the Board. Passionate people is what makes PASS great, remembering that passion begins with PASS.
- Attend the online First Timers presentations that are out there. I believe there are many but these are great events. I believe that there is even one now onsite at the PASS conference. Get to know what is there for that year.
- Find the SQL MVPs, they are out there. These volunteers in the SQL Community have passion towards SQL Server and are always willing to share.
- Find out who the Microsoft Players are and their role and network with them.
- Many more things that you can do to enjoy and always want to come back for another Summit.
Preparing for your next experience today
If you begin with the next year in mind, set up the relationships that you will renew each year at the Summit and you will find yourself refreshed and renewed each Summit you attend. Do things to keep in touch with people you meet, like getting their contact information, giving yours out to set up collaboration during the year you are away. I keep all the cards I receive in a place in my backpack and it is amazing how many I have at the end of Summit. Obviously this is not an opportunity for free consulting, but to get a quick opinion or a quick answer to a question, your network is your best friend. The next thing you should do to complete your experience is when you leave Summit, look for the email where registration opens for the next Summit and most often it is a very significant discount to register before the year ends than to wait until the next year. Save some money. Finally, get to know the players and you will be playing for the rest of your career.
Valuable Lessons Learned
The most valuable lessons I have learned at my PASS Summits I have attended is that people at PASS Summits are real people. They have lives outside of their career and they have failings just like me. I don’t know everything and they don’t know everything, that is why we get together and chat with each other because they share what they have learned and experienced and I do the same, and we come away better for it. The people you meet at PASS and the leaders that lead PASS are just like you and me, they are not better than you or me and we are not better than them, we have just had different experiences and that is what makes a PASS Summit FUN. Swapping stories, learning new things and renewing the PASSion that you have gained for SQL Server and the technologies that surround it. Chatting with the Microsoft folks and the MCM and MVP crowd can enlighten you in an environment that cannot be replicated at work, take advantage of this opportunity, you won’t regret the time you spend. But most of all Unwind, HAVE FUN and take it all in, you will be exhausted when you get done, but it will be an experience second to none.
I hope to see you there and hope your experience will be well worth the time. Here’s to all the SQL Community or #SQLFamily out there that will be attending, can’t wait to see you there.