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Five Reasons You Should Volunteer With Your Local SQL User Group and Host a SQL Saturday


I took the plunge this year and started volunteering for the North Texas SQL Server User Group. Originally I started attending because I wanted to learn more about SQL Server, but it didn’t take long before I realized that there was so much more to be gained from being there.

Why should you volunteer with your local user group?

You get to meet really cool people.

I realize that I don’t know most of you personally, but I think most of you are like me. The reason you read this blog is because you want to know more about your profession than the average person. That’s likely how you found me in the first place. The folks at your user group are just like us. They are passionate about their craft, fascinated by technology, and want to be the best they can be. However after you get to know them better, you’ll also find that many of them are caring and really fun to be around.

I can hear you saying, “Yeah David, but I can get all of that by going to the monthly meetings, why should I bother to volunteer?” I attended this user group for almost 2 years before I volunteered and had no idea who these people really were. I had talked to them of course, but you only get to know them as you work WITH them. You become a member of the club, feel like you belong, and they let their hair down.

You can network with some of the best minds in SQL Server.

Some of the best minds in SQL Server present at SQL Saturdays. They fly in at their own expense to share their knowledge and network with you. These are the people who write the books on SQL Server, MVPs and other luminaries. When you volunteer, you can get exclusive access to them.

Also, remember those smart, motivated folks in your local area that I mentioned above? On the volunteer committee I’m working side by side with two Microsoft MVPs and more folks who are on their way to becoming MVPs. I’m spending weekends volunteering with them and getting to know them well. These are the folks who can help you find your next job.

Do you want to eventually give SQL presentations? You should start by volunteering.

When I chose the name Made2Mentor, it wasn’t without a great deal of thought. I have always taught others and mentored them in something that I was good at. I’m learning SQL Server rapidly and intend to begin presenting on various aspects of it.

If you’ve already volunteered, and I intend to continue to do so, approaching the leader of the User Group is an easy matter because you’ve already worked extensively with him. I may even present a session at the next SQL Saturday.

You can learn so much from the other volunteers, maybe even find a mentor or two.

I’ve already received a ton of help from people on the volunteer committee that I would not have been able to get had I not volunteered. While I know you can get basic help from forums or Google searches, you get so much more from people with whom you’ve built a relationship.

Once you get to know them, they’ll take the time to look at your problem personally and guide you in the right direction. It’s not just technical help either. Many of us are very bright technically, but lack the soft skills. Many of the people who run these groups have already mastered the soft skills of interpersonal communication, and you can learn from them. It is only natural that they eventually become your mentors.

Volunteering makes you feel good about yourself.

I know that I often focus on the career aspects of networking, but it’s not all about your personal gain. It feels good to give to the community, to help the other volunteers without worrying about what you’ll get from it. There’s a real sense of achievement which comes from hosting an event like SQL Saturday and knowing that you had a part in it.

So, I encourage you to join your local SQL Server User Group and volunteer. If you have the opportunity to volunteer for a project such as a SQL Saturday, jump in and do your best. There are so many benefits, that you’ll find it’s totally worth it.

I’d like to my fellow members of the planning committee Sri Sridharan, Sean and Jen McCown, Tim Mitchell, Vic Prabhu, Ryan Adams, as well as the rest of the volunteers for SQL Saturday for making the experience great.

By the way, if any of you are coming to SQL Saturday Dallas, then look me up. I’ll be running all over the place, helping to get things done. 🙂

PS. To my regular readers, I apologize about my lack of blogging lately. Obviously I’ve been busy with SQL Saturday and I’ve had a great deal of pressure with my work the past few weeks. I’ll be back on track and will continue with the disaster recovery theme next week.

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17 comments to Five Reasons You Should Volunteer With Your Local SQL User Group and Host a SQL Saturday

  • Anthony Agpaoa

    Sounds like a great idea!
    Question, Trying to search fro my local SQL USer groups but no luck yet. Does your user group belong to a national charter and what is their website? They may have one in the Los Angeles Area specifically San FErnando Valley Area

  • One place you can check on the PASS (Professional Association for SQL Server). I took a look there and there are five SSUG’s in California, one of them in Los Angeles. Good Luck! http://www.sqlpass.org/PASSChapters/USSouthwest.aspx

  • Awesome post. I’ll be linking to it I’m sure.

  • Karl

    Aside from hosting a SQL Saturday, what other things could we do as volunteers?

  • Karl,

    There are lots of things you can do. It takes volunteers to run the local user group. You can do a lot of things:

    Speak at a meeting
    Handle messaging (meeting announcements, etc…)
    Webmaster – keep it the web site up to date and sometimes add content
    Sponsor Liason – someone has to find and interface with sponsors
    Speaker Liasion – find and interface with speakers
    Venue Liason – find and interface with the venue. Make sure everything is setup and working before the meetings
    Food Supplier – someone has to order and pick up food and drinks

    I’m sure that there are other things. You’d be surprised how much time it takes to keep a user group going and it takes more if you want it to grow. The more people involved the easier it is. Just talk to the leaders of your local group, I’m sure they will have something for you to do.

  • […] Five Reasons You Should Volunteer With Your Local SQL User Group and Host a SQL Saturday […]

  • If only the North Texas group was a little more North-like. Five hours South is a bit much for me to attend frequently, especially when it’s not on a weekend.

    Sometimes this state is just too flipping big.

  • Ralph Wilson

    Psynister, I admit that TX is pretty big but I can’t figure out where in TX you would be if you are 5 hours north of the North Texas Group . . . are you in the Amarillo area? 😉

  • Ralph,

    Yes, I’m an hour Northeast of Amarillo.

  • And I’m not sure why the previous comment picked up my other user name, but this is Psynister too in case that isn’t obvious.

  • […] We are always looking for people to help out. On the registration page there is a section to volunteer. I would highly encourage everyone to do this. While my motives are a bit selfish, it is really a great way to network with other volunteers and give back. If that is not enough, check out David’s Post on Five Reasons You Should Volunteer with Your Local SQL User Group and Host a SQL Saturday […]

  • Darren

    I was hoping to find a group like this in Houston Texas, but to no avail. Do you know if Houston has one now? Thanks.

  • I’m confused Darren. The trackback above your comment is for SQL Saturday Houston.

    Check out http://houston.sqlpass.org/ for the Houston SQL Server User Group.

  • Darren

    David,
    Thanks for the info. Just what i was looking for. 🙂

  • […] are so many benefits to being active in the community. You can make great friends and learn so much from other PASS […]

  • […] network with other volunteers and give back. If that is not enough, check out David’s Post on Five Reasons You Should Volunteer with Your Local SQL User Group and Host a SQL Saturday Hope to see you […]

  • Ali Bashir

    Hi David, wish I had found this site last week before the SQL Saturday 603 in Microsoft building, 🙂 any-who it was a lot of fun as was the last one in Arlington.

    Question I have and is the reason y i found your site here is that I practice a lot in SQL Server 2012 also with SSIS and SSRS. Is there a company or a small office that I can volunteer to get some more hands on real life experience. If so please recommended or any other route you think I can take to enhance my learning.Present moment I am working as a QA lead but at work I cannot do much on SSMS due to Corp restrictions.

    Thanks again and much appreciate your advice

    Ali Bashir
    Abashir12200@gmail.com
    214-489-7787

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