[cross-posted from Karla Landrum's blog - http://karlalandrum.wordpress.com/2010/10/26/what-is-a-pass-regional-mentor/ ]
This is one of the questions I get when I email or tell someone that I am now a PASS Regional Mentor for the Heartland region, which usually leads to their next question “but don’t you live in Florida?” I’ll admit when I first expressed interest to PASS that I wanted to be an RM, I had hoped it would be covering the SouthEast region, but each region has two mentors, and the SE had been assigned already to Jorge Segarra (Blog | Twitter) and Adam Jorgensen (Blog | Twitter), two fantastic contributors to the SQL Community. However, I can now say that the path I was put on was meant to be, as it enabled me to immediately contribute and help out the SQL Community in some very rewarding ways.
Originally I had been assigned to the MidWest, because at the time there wasn’t anyone to cover that region. Well at the same time that I became RM, I had finally broke down and signed up for twitter. In following various different personalities on twitter, I quickly came to recognize some of the very strong and positive influencers out there. Immediately I wanted to start finding myself a co-RM for the MidWest, and was delighted to see that Arie Jones (Blog | Twitter) was up in Indiana, a super energizer that had presented at my first SQL Saturday up in Pensacola two years ago. Finding someone living in the MidWest region I felt was necessary since I needed someone to be “onsite” to help cover the turf “up close”, such as speaking/attending events and user group meetings in that area, so I luckily still had AJ’s email and did a shot out to him to see if he’d be interested in being an RM, and long story short, he said YES! So off I sent an email to Douglas McDowell (Blog | Twitter) to arrange a call between the two of them. So great, I now had a partner that I knew was going to be as excited as myself in this new role. So mission complete, but oh wait, who is this @wendy_dance person, so full of positive energy and feedback and apparently loved by many! Continued to check out her profile on twitter and wouldn’t you know it, she
is a Tribal Fusion Bellydance Director lives in Illinois, another MidWest region state. Well it just seemed to make sense that she should be an RM, with all her influence and great following, so I sent her a DM and asked if she thought she might be interested, tagged Douglas and her together, and voila, Wendy Pastrick (Blog | Twitter) was on the PASS RM train. Ok, so that left just a few regions that still needed someone, so I volunteered for the Heartland region to work along with Cincinnati’s SQL User Group leader and PASS RM, Matt Rigling (Blog | Twitter). Why Heartland, it was closer to the SE, almost anyway. This region includes some very northern states, Michigan and Ohio, but also what I consider southern states, Kentucky and Tennessee. Also having clients in two of these states will help to get me at some of the events in these areas. (Already looking forward to SQL Saturday #60, although Florida girl in Cleveland in February, yikes!)
That answers question two, why Heartland, now back to question one and title of what will be the first of several blogs while on this journey as a PASS Regional Mentor. I am finding that many chapters don’t know what a Regional Mentor is primarily because they just either didn’t have an RM or state that they never had their RM ever contact them. I believe some realignments of regions occurred and created more RM territories, so that would explain if they really didn’t have an RM assigned to their region prior to now (although I do believe that even though fewer RMs existed, fewer chapters existed as well, hince why now there are two for each region). If you are a Chapter Leader and are not sure who your RM is, you can find all of them listed under the PASS Chapters tab at www.sqlpass.org. As far as those who say their previous RM never contacted them, personally that wasn’t the case for me when I led a chapter. Andy Leonard (Blog | Twitter) was our RM here in the SE, and he checked in with me at least once a quarter, and I was able to reach out to him anytime I needed anything. Maybe other RMs just weren’t that available, I don’t know, as I really can’t answer to what might have happened in the past. I can only share with you what I know as of now, and over the next several posts, will share with you our plans and how we intend to execute our ideas.
In general, a PASS Regional Mentor can be defined as the following:
• Passionate community volunteer
– Dedicated to PASS and the SQL Server community
– Understands the value of giving his/her time and talents to helping others increase their knowledge and skills and improving the overall community
• PASS ambassador
– Understands PASS and its mission and represents the best of PASS to Chapters in his/her area
– Works to keep PASS accountable, on track, and meeting the needs of its members
• Primary point of contact for Chapters
– RM facilitates 2-way communications: resources, benefits, and news from PASS to Chapters and Chapter needs and feedback back to PASS
– RM knows who to contact at PASS, at the local/regional Microsoft office, area sponsors, etc. if Chapters need something or have questions
My goals are quite simple. Stay closely connected with Matt and the chapters in our region. Encourage and mentor folks on hosting SQL Saturday events where they haven’t had one yet. Help chapters with filling empty speaker slots at their monthly meetings. Connect sponsors to those hosting user group meetings, SQL Saturdays and other events. Work with chapters and speakers to possibly “piggy back” nearby user groups. Volunteer at as many events as I can this next year (so far the most I’ve done is 6 in one year, not counting user group meetings). Pretty much all the things I did as a Chapter Leader, so why be a Regional Mentor? Guess that brings us to question three. I think being an RM is going to give me a much farther reach in helping chapters that are truly “in the need”, and at the same time assisting PASS in getting those needs heard and met.
I’ll keep you posted on how things are going, good or bad. And hey, feel free to share your comments on what you feel as RMs we should be doing for you and the SQL Community. We are working to retool and define this new RM legion every day, and since we are here to benefit you, your input is very much welcomed.