I’m a bit swamped with reality, pressures of work etc, this week, so I’ll just take the time to say:
Find your local
SQL Server User Group
It’s not difficult. Googling for “SQL Server User Group” will show a few results, y’know, 50 million or so, and you can refine your search from there.
The main site, for those of us in the UK, is SQL Server FAQ. Follow them on Twitter, too, with the tag #sqlfaq. You’ll find groups up and down the land, with more groups starting up. I’ve been to the user group in Leeds a couple of times (I work away from home a lot, and so can’t always get back), and tomorrow, I’m going to the inaugural meeting of the SQL Server South West user group, catering for those in the far south west of the country.
Some excuses you may be making to yourself, and how to deal with them.
Too far to travel?
Others already travel fair distances to get to these meetings – one chap at the most recent Leeds UG meeting had travelled up from Birmingham – a 2.5 hour drive. And I’ll be spending two hours on the M5 tomorrow to get to the meeting in Exeter. What’s your excuse?
It’ll cost too much
No it won’t… unless you sign up for a meeting and don’t attend! There is a problem with people booking in and then deciding that they can’t be bothered to make the effort to turn up. That normally wouldn’t be a problem, but it’s only polite to let the meeting organiser know that you’ve changed your mind. It’ll prevent them from delaying the start of a meeting while waiting for absentees.
If you’re worrying about transport costs, try asking your boss – he may be able to arrange for you to claim your train fare, or mileage.
Don’t know anyone there?
So what? Neither did I, at the first meeting. The second one, you remember a few people from the first, and so on… you build up a network of contacts, of (dare I say it) friends. And they’re people you can talk to about problems you’re having, or about opportunities, or even somewhere to practice your presentation skills.
Keep an eye on the Twitter #sqlfaq search I mentioned earlier. Chances are you’ll see a few DBAs tweeting about the upcoming meeting. It’s OK to join in the conversation – introduce yourself – confess to your nervousness – we’re generally a friendly bunch.
What’s in it for me?
The networking opportunity, the chance to speak to and hear from experts in the field, to air your problems and have them discussed by other professionals… and there may even be some food and swag. The last meeting I was at, I came away with Itzik Ben-Gan’s book on T-SQL (see my SQL Server Bookshelf); also being handed out were 4GB USB memory cards from Fusion-io (don’t know who they are? They’re the guys with the really cool super-fast solid state storage) and six month free subscriptions to PackT Publishing’s library, PackTLib.