PASS Connector Editorial for July 29 - by Andy Warren

How good are you at meeting new people at a user group meeting or conference? Do you remember names? Do you follow up, or do you wind up discarding the business cards without looking at them? Do you wish you were better at networking?

This year at PASS Summit, we're trying to do more than just have “networking events”. For the first time we have real training available to help you learn to network. Noted author Don Gabor will be presenting a 2-hour seminar the afternoon of Nov 2 where you may not learn it all, but you'll get a good start! The $60 seminar includes a signed copy of his book. Go to the seminar, learn some skills, and then move right into the opening night reception to give them a try in the real world.

You might go because you need to grow your networking skills, but the seminar also represents a great networking opportunity itself. Author and speaker Grant Fritchey will be there and blogged about why he plans to attend. So did PASS board member Tom LaRock. Summit speaker Kendal Van Dyke and PASS volunteer Jack Corbett will be attending. Past President Kevin Kline will be there and so will Steve Jones from SQLServerCentral.com.  I’ll be attending and blogged about why as well.

We’re going to try for a group photo of all 100 attendees together, and invite them all to join an attendee only LinkedIn group to make sure everyone has a chance to decide who they want to meet and has a way to save the connections they make.

Networking is a vital career skill. It doesn’t mean you need a job or have something to sell, often having that connection means you can help someone else, often in unexpected ways. More practically, attending an event like the PASS Summit is a lot more fun when you connect with people.

Have a question about the networking seminar, the PASS Summit, or PASS in general? Email me at andy.warren@sqlpass.org and we’ll get you an answer.

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PASS Bylaws Updated for 2009

Last week PASS voted to update the bylaws by which we govern ourselves.  Changing the bylaws requires a two-thirds vote of the Board of Directors.  This is the first bylaw update since I started on the Board in 2006.  This update was focused on members and elections.  You can find our bylaws on the Governance page of our web site (http://www.sqlpass.org/AboutPASS/Governance.aspx).

Our previous bylaws defined various classes of members including paid and free.  They only gave voting rights to paying members.  As part of the Summit registration process all Summit attendees automatically became paying members.  Once the Board eliminated the paying membership we were left with only Summit attendees voting in elections.  This didn’t match our stated goal of making PASS more than a Summit.

The new bylaws define a “member in good standing”.  The specific definition of this is not in the bylaws however.  We expect this definition to grow as we create better ways of interacting with the community.  A separate document will be approved by the Board and published that defines who can vote in the upcoming election.  We expect this will be the basis for future elections as well.  As the committee creates this document they are trying to balance broad inclusion with limiting to people that are invested in the organization.  Our overall goal is that the population of people that can vote grows beyond what it has been.  Hopefully this will keep us from updating the bylaws in the future if we add new classes of members.

We also worked on the sections around elections.  We added more structure to the Nominations Committee and the process for selecting the head of the committee. This is the process that Directors at Large go through to be elected to the Board.

The President, Executive Vice President and Vice President of Marketing make up the Executive Committee (or ExecCo) along with the Executive Director and the Immediate Past President.  These people are defined as the Officers of PASS and “exercise the authority of the Board between meetings”.

In the past it had been somewhat opaque how the candidates were selected to run for the officer positions.  The bylaws now define an Officer Appointment Committee that is separate from the Nominations Committee.  This group determines the slate of officer candidates from those people currently serving on the Board.  This group is presented to the Board and approved by Board vote.  Our goal here was to make explicit how these roles were filled in practice.

I encourage you to take a look at the bylaws.  They are rules that govern how PASS is run in our mission to serve the SQL Server community.

Bill Graziano
Vice President of Marketing

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PASS Connector Editorial for July 15 - by Andy Warren

Hello,

As we approach PASS Summit in November, we also approach the time when we’ll be having our annual election and I want to share some information about what’s involved and how you can participate.

The process starts with a nominating committee headed by Immediate Past President Kevin Kline. Kevin will select committee members and together they make a recommendation to the Board of Directors about the officers (President, Vice President of Finance, and Vice President of Marketing) for the next two year term. Officers must be current Board members and the slate is voted on by the Board. The new officers will be announced at the Summit.

The next step is to open nominations for positions on the Board of Directors. We’ll provide full details when that begins, but in the past it has consisted of completing a written application followed by at least one phone interview. The nominating committee then recommends to the Board a slate of candidates for the November election.

Speaking from my own six months of experience on the Board of Directors it’s a serious commitment. Expect to spend 2-5 hours per week on PASS business, and to attend as many as three in person meetings that will last two full days each. It may change, but many of our meetings are held in Seattle which added two full days of travel for those of us on the East coast.

Start thinking about the election. Maybe you’re ready to increase your participation, or maybe you know someone who would be a good candidate. In an upcoming editorial we’ll talk more about the nominating process and the election process.

Andy Warren

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PASS Update #11 - Networking Seminar at PASS Summit

If you haven’t seen the news yet we’ve got something new on the schedule this year – a 2 hour seminar titled Networking to Build Business Contacts by author and speaker Don Gabor. I thought I’d give you the back story on how this ended up on the schedule and why I think you should attend (and why I’ll be attending).

See how closely you identify with the following:

  • You believe networking is a good idea
  • You’re not (or think you aren’t) very good at networking
  • You attend networking events but usually talk to people you already know
  • You think networking only matters if you’re looking for a job or selling something
  • You’re not good at starting conversations but you like talking to people
  • You’d like to meet some of the well known people in our business
  • You don’t have a plan for networking when you attend big events like the Summit
  • You don’t do a good job at following up with the people you do meet

If you agree with all eight, we’re in the same boat!

How much effort have you invested in learning SQL Server? For me it’s more than 10 years in various ways. Now how much training have you had in networking? I went out and bought some books because I realized I had zero training in networking, and one of them was How to Start a Conversation and Make Friends by Don Gabor. That in turn lead to some coaching sessions from Don and while I still won’t claim to be great, I’m better at it now and more aware of the nuances of networking.

I had long been interested in improving networking at the Summit, and going through this process made me think that others might benefit as well. I brought it up for discussion at the May 2009 board meeting thinking that it would be a hard sell, but it was just the opposite. Everyone liked the idea, the challenge was to figure out when, where, how long, and how much. Lots of work from that point to get the details done, but ultimately we came up with what I think is an elegant plan:

  • Host it in the gap between the end of pre-conference sessions and the opening night reception, which we tweaked to be 2 hours
  • Price it at our cost - $60 and give them a copy of How to Start a Conversation and Make Friends
  • Limit seating to 100, the max that Don believed he could train without assistance for this type of seminar
  • Focus on three networking scenarios; breakfast/lunch, between sessions, and large events like the reception

It’s training for the Summit and you’ll be practicing on 99 other people that want to learn networking too. I’ll be there (I paid my $60 already), my friend Steve Jones will be there, and I bet a good portion of the Board of Directors and some of our staff from PASS HQ, and I’m betting quite a few authors, MVP’s, and bloggers will be too – so you’ll have the chance to meet a few ‘well known’ people as part of the deal. Then when the training is over it’s right into the opening night reception to practice those new skills. Think of how we might change the Summit by injecting a 100 people that want to meet others and have the skills to do it? Every time we meet someone new, we make the event better for them too!

Questions or comments? Post here, or email to me at andy.warren@sqlpass.org.

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