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.