#BI101: Some SQL Saturday speakers to check out

This is part of a series of articles in which I’m trying to teach myself about BI.  Any related articles I write are preceded with “#BI101” in the title.

As a speaker on the SQL Saturday circuit, I’ve had the honor and privilege of having met, connected with, and even befriended a number of experts in SQL, data, and BI.  If you can get to get to a SQL Saturday, you can also have that opportunity.

In a couple of weeks (July 28), we will be hosting SQL Saturday here in Albany, NY.  I was going through the schedule, and noticed a number of speakers on the docket who will be talking about various BI topics.  I’ve attended a lot of their sessions, and I recommend these speakers highly!

(Note: for purposes of this article, I am limiting this list to BI topics, although these speakers may be giving other presentations as well.)

SQL Saturday is a great free learning resource, a great opportunity to network, and is always a good time!  If you’re looking to learn about BI or other data-related or professional topics, go check out a SQL Saturday event near you!

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SQL Saturday #741, Albany, NY, July 28 — the schedule is out

The schedule for SQL Saturday #741 in Albany is out!  (My presentation is scheduled for the first session of the morning.  Ugh!)

I will be doing a brand-new presentation (so new, in fact, that as of this article, my presentation slides are not yet finished!).

My new presentation is titled: “Networking: it isn’t just for breakfast anymore.”  It is based on my ‘blog article of the same name.  We will discuss networking, what it is, and why it’s important.  We’ll discuss where and how to network, and ways you can break the ice.  We’ll even have an opportunity to network within the confines of our room.  (I suppose an alternate presentation title could be, “Networking for beginners.”)

If you’re looking for networking opportunities or looking for ways to improve upon your networking skills, come check out my session!  Click this link to register for SQL Saturday #741, and join us in Albany, NY on Saturday, July 28!

See you there!

Birth of a user group

At SQL Saturday in New York City yesterday, I debuted a brand-new presentation: So you want to be a SQL Saturday speaker?  Although only two people showed up, they were very receptive and engaging, which is exactly what I want out of my presentations.  As someone once said, the size of the audience doesn’t matter; just play your best.

What I found fascinating, however, was the interaction between the two gentlemen.  Both were from Long Island.  They traded contact information, and started discussing the idea of creating a SQL user group around there.

It brought to mind a memory from eight years earlier.  It was in 2010.  I was traveling down to New York for my very first SQL Saturday.  I had exchanged messages with someone on a SQLServerCentral.com forum about the conference; he was also coming from the Albany area, and was attending the same conference.  We met on the train, we talked, and we discussed the idea of creating a user group in the Albany area.

The gentleman was Dan Bowlin.  Our forum conversation from eight years ago is still on SSC, and can be found here.  We became friends, and we still remain friends to this day (although Dan no longer lives in the Albany area; he took a job down in Connecticut a couple of years ago).  The group we ended up founding is now CASSUG (Capital Area SQL Server User Group).  We didn’t know what we were getting into with our initial foray into this endavor, but CASSUG now has a few hundred members, holds meetings every month, and hosts its own SQL Saturday (our next one is coming up in July).  From a simple beginning, a user group was born!

I’ve written before about the benefits of user groups.  I’m hoping that this dialog between these two gentlemen leads to the creation of another one.  And I hope to hear about meetings for the Long Island SQL Server User Group (LISSUG) sometime soon!

Maybe they’ll even invite me down as a guest speaker sometime!

On deck: SQL Saturday #716, NYC

Reminder: I am speaking at SQL Saturday #716, New York City this coming Saturday, May 19!  The conference will be at the Microsoft Technology Center, directly across 8th Avenue from the Port Authority Bus Terminal.  This is a secure location, so you must register using the link above if you want to attend!

I will be giving the following two presentations:

  • I lost my job!  Now what?!?  This is my career/job hunt presentation, and it’s becoming one of my best-sellers.  In this talk, I provide tips and advice for surviving a jobless situation.  Anyone who is looking for new employment is encouraged to attend!
  • So you want to be a SQL Saturday speaker?  This is a brand-new presentation that is making its debut at NYC SQL Saturday!  Want to be a speaker at SQL Saturday?  Here’s how I did it — and you can, too!

Hope to see you there!

Reminder: SQL Saturday #714, Philadelphia

This is a reminder that this coming Saturday, April 21, I will be speaking at SQL Saturday #714, Philadelphia (more accurately, Blue Bell, PA).  Go to the link to register for the event.

I will be giving my career/job hunt presentation, entitled: “I lost my job!  Now what?!?

Hope to see you there!

SQL Saturday #716, NYC Schedule

The schedule for SQL Saturday #716 is out, and it turns out that I’m on it not once, but twice!

I will be doing the following two presentations:

Hope to see you in the Big Apple on May 19!

What to expect at a SQL Saturday

Those of you who follow my ‘blog know that I post a lot about SQL Saturday.  I attended my first SQL Saturday in New York City in 2010, and had a great time.  I’ve attended SQL Saturday events every year since, and my involvement has grown, first when my hometown SQL user group started hosting our own SQL Saturday events, then again in 2015 when I first started speaking with my own presentations.

For the benefit of those of you who have no idea as to what SQL Saturday is, here’s a primer.  SQL Saturday is a technical conference that takes place on (mainly) Saturdays at various locations (despite the name, SQL Saturday does not necessarily have to take place on Saturday).  As the name implies, these conferences revolve primarily around technologies related to Microsoft SQL Server.  However, while SQL Server is the primary focus for these conferences, not all presentations focus on SQL Server.  Some presentations may be of interest to developers, other data professionals, and people who just want to learn more about data technologies or technological trends in general.  Some presentation topics don’t focus on technology at all; SQL Saturday includes a professional development track where presentations focus on various professional soft skills, including (but not limited to) non-technical business skills, business-related social skills, networking, career, job hunt, communication, and so on.

My friend, Ed Pollack, wrote an article about happens at a SQL Saturday.  It’s a great read, and I highly recommend it.

So for people who might be interested in attending a SQL Saturday, I put together this primer (in a FAQ format) based on my own experience with SQL Saturday.  Hopefully, this will answer your questions as to what SQL Saturday is about, as well as whet your appetite for attending these conferences!

If this article doesn’t answer your questions, feel free to comment!

Who can go to a SQL Saturday?

Short answer: anyone!

Longer answer: anyone who has an interest in databases, data science, analytics, business intelligence, statistics, technology, development, career and professional development, or even if you just want to network with professionals in technology.  Not only is SQL Saturday a wonderful opportunity for free training, it’s a fun social event where you can meet people in the field.

Most SQL Saturday events do require you to register, since space is often limited (also, some locations are secure facilities, which require pre-registration).  Register on the individual location website for the event that you want to attend; these links can be found at sqlsaturday.com.

I know nothing about technology, or I am not a technical professional.  Can I go to SQL Saturday?

Yes!  See my answer above.  You do not need to be a professional to attend.  If you have an interest in anything related to data, you’re encouraged to show up.  And because the event is free, it’s ideal for students.

Did you say free?  How much does it cost to attend a SQL Saturday?

Yep, that’s correct.  SQL Saturday is free to attend.  Most events charge a nominal fee for lunch; that amount varies with the event.  It’s usually in the ballpark of around $10 to $15 (US).

So who pays for all this?

Sponsors cover the costs for these events.

What about this fee for a precon?  What is a precon?

A precon is a daylong presentation on an individual data topic (topics vary).  These precons generally take place the day before SQL Saturday.  Unlike the main SQL Saturday  event itself, there is a fee to attend a precon, usually in the ballpark of $150 to $200, depending on the topic.

Do I need to know anything about SQL to attend a SQL Saturday?

Nope!  SQL Saturday welcomes people of all technical levels, even if you don’t know anything about databases.  Some events even include a beginner track that offer introductory topics for SQL and database newbies.

What topics are presented?

It varies, depending on the event.  Different events can have different subject tracks.  Also, because these events have different speakers, presentation topics vary as well.  Most topics revolve around SQL Server, but application, administrative, and professional development topics are offered as well.

How much do SQL Saturday speakers and staff get paid?

Zero.  Nada.  Zilch.  SQL Saturday is an all-volunteer event.  When I apply to speak at SQL Saturday events, I do so knowing that I’ll do this on my own dime.  Distance from home, transportation costs, lodging, food, and schedules all factor into my planning whenever I apply to speak at a SQL Saturday.

How should I dress for a SQL Saturday?

SQL Saturday tends to be a casual event.  I’ve worn t-shirts, jeans, summer shorts, sandals, Hawaiian shirts, baseball jerseys, and baseball caps to these events (not necessarily all at the same time).  Heck, I even remember a SQL Saturday where Grant Fritchey wore a kilt.  (No, I have no idea if he wore it in the “traditional” Scottish style, and I didn’t ask.)

I’ve often seen job seekers attend SQL Saturday dressed in full suits.  While suits can be worn at these events, be advised that you will likely stick out like a sore thumb.  Additionally, note that SQL Saturday is an all-day event, and a suit might not be comfortable for an entire day, especially if it takes place in the middle of the summer!

My advice: dress comfortably, and however you think is appropriate.  If you feel a need to dress up to impress potential employers, I would recommend slacks and a decent shirt (if you’re a guy, that is; I’ll admit that I don’t know what the female equivalent would be).  A tie and jacket are optional.  You don’t need a full suit.

I want to be a SQL Saturday speaker.  How can I get started?

You can start by reading my previous article that talks about how I got into it.  Additionally, I have a presentation that talks about becoming a SQL Saturday speaker (this is a brand new presentation that will make its debut at SQL Saturday #716, New York City!).  There are also a number of other presentations about becoming a speaker as well; go check them out!

I have more questions.  How can I get them answered?

Did I not answer your question?  For starters, you can leave me a comment, and I will answer your question as best as I can!

I also recommend SQL Saturday’s website.

There are also a number of articles that discuss what to expect at SQL Saturday.  I highly recommend Ed’s article, for starters.