A Week Before Networking at the PASS Summit

It’s a week before the Networking Dinner at the PASS Summit. Andy Warren and I are hosting the event next Monday, October 26th, at the Yard House in Seattle. The address is at 4th and Pike, just a few blocks from the convention center.

Register here if you can come.

There’s no cost, other than you covering your own food and drink expenses. We would like registration just to try and ensure we have enough staff at the restaurant.

This is a great chance to network with fellow data professionals. If this is your first or second time at the PASS Summit, please come and meet some people.

Share Your Passion at Summit ‘15

Every Monday night on the week of the PASS Summit. Andy Warren and I host a networking dinner. This year we’re at the Yard House, and we’d love for you to come by if you don’t have plans Monday night. The event is from 6-9, but come early, come late, whatever works.

You are responsible for paying your own way. You don’t have to eat dinner, but Andy and I will greet you and then introduce you to a few others that we hope you can enjoy an our or so with. All we ask is that you register so we know how many people are coming.

We Can’t Do It All

We set up the dinner as an event that people might enjoy if they didn’t have other plans. While there are a number of parties going on all week, most of the attendees don’t get invitations.

We want to help everyone have a good time.

With that in mind, we have asked a few people to think about hosting their own events after ours on Monday. The event could be anything from going to taste beers at the Tap House to having a cup of coffee at Barnes and Nobles (Andy’s choice) to listening to a local band at a bar somewhere near downtown. Pick anything you like to do and host a small event. It doesn’t have to cost anything, and who knows who you’ll meet.

We have a few suggestions if you’d like to do something.

  • Choose an event you enjoy.
  • Pick something within walking distance from the Convention Center. The Space Needle is about as far as I might go from downtown.
  • Setup an event on EventBrite, Meetup, or somewhere else. Set a small limit to your tickets.
  • Let people know if there’s a theme or what you are looking to do. For example, chatting about good books at Barnes and Noble is a great choice.
  • Let people know if there is a cost. I’d highly recommend someone try to get people to do the Underground Tour. However you probably need to let them know to buy tickets in advance.
  • Enjoy

This is a great way to meet some of your fellow data professionals. I’d love to see a few dozen events pop up every night during the week.

If you’ve got questions, ask. If you have events, let me know, and I’ll try to publish them. We already have one, from the Midnight DBAs. Register for their Top Po Donuts get together on Monday night, or feel free to come to our networking dinner.

Register for the Networking Dinner Monday, Oct 26

Growing Pains for the Networking Dinner

A few years ago Andy Warren had this idea for a networking dinner. We had been chatting about all the parties and events at PASS, with many of them limited to select individuals. We talked about trying to get more people involved in the community and giving them something to do, so they wouldn’t get stuck in a hotel, as Tim Mitchell did years ago.

This has been a success, but we have growing pains, and we’re looking for some ideas from people in the community, especially those of you going to the PASS Summit for the first or second time.

Skip the history part and drop down if you want to know the issues.


We decided we’d host this as a meet-up, just publishing a location and seeing who showed up. We choose a small restaurant in the Pike Place Market that wasn’t busy on Monday night and put the word out. Evidently we know a lot of people because the place was packed. The staff struggled, service was slow, it was hard to move around, but it was fun.

We moved the location to the small mall and the Gordon Biersch in downtown Seattle the next year and sent a notice out earlier. Once again, Andy and I met people at the door, tried to pair them up in groups of four, and let them eat. Once again, it was a bit of a madhouse.

Last year we had a reservation at Buffalo Wild Wings, but apparently some wires got crossed and they lost our reservation. Andy couldn’t make the Summit, but fortunately some friends helped me out, finding a good spot at The Yard House. A couple of us greeted people at BWW and sent them down to the Yard House. It wasn’t ideal, but it worked.


This year we’re having some trouble nailing down a location. The invitation is up, as is the EventBrite, but we don’t have a location. Here are a few of the issues.

Busy Places – A few places we’ve checked are busy on Monday nights with Monday Night Football promotions. Many don’t take reservations. We could just go, and we’ve asked them if they might bring in extra staff, but we worry that the waits will be ridiculous there.

Reserving a Bar – We did find a couple places that take reservations, but they’ve asked for $600+ for the space, before food and drinks. Andy and I don’t mind spending some money on this, but we weren’t really looking to rent space at $300 apiece.

Possible Solutions

This is where you come in. We’ve talked about a few different ideas, but we don’t like any of them. Let us know what you think.

Using the Convention Center

We could probably get space from PASS. However, food and drink is expensive in the convention center, it’s not great, and it’s a pain. Plus we’re spending all week there, so we wanted to get out.

Finding a Sponsor

I work for Redgate Software, and both Andy and I have good relationships with lots of vendors. We could try to get a sponsor for the event and cover the cost.


If Redgate sponsors, someone will be upset. If someone else sponsors, my boss might be upset. However I’m OK with most of that. What neither Andy or I want is someone using a casual networking event to promote something. We don’t really want to be in the stadium name game and sell the name of the event. We don’t want to push emails out to attendees from a vendor.

In short, we don’t love this plan.

Charging Attendees

We’ve gotten around 200 people each year, and I bet we’ll get the same. Certainly we could charge $3-5 for tickets, and I think people would pay. We’d rather not, but it’s an idea.


We could raffle off something. Prizes cost money, however, and they could easily turn us more upside down than we are already for the space. We did think about raffling off easy things, like:

  • a private dinner with Andy or I (or some well known volunteers) – We’d fund part of the dinner, or ask our hosts to donate this. However then we’re asking others to spend their own money.
  • some old swag, like some of my Friday shirts. Not sure how much money this raises
  • Some mentoring time – Perhaps some dedicated,private time for mentoring from Andy, myself, or others. Personally I don’t like this as I think mentoring is a gift, and gifts should be given, nor purchased.
  • ??

Staggering Times

We’re already getting tickets reserved (no charge), so we hesitate to change things, but one idea is to limit the number of tickets to a set number every half hour. Say 30-40 people, with multiple sets of tickets. We’d probably do

  • 5:30 – 30 tickets
  • 6:00 – 30 tickets
  • 6:30 – 30 tickets
  • 7:00 – 30 tickets
  • 7:30 – 30 tickets
  • 8:00 – 100 tickets

This might make it easier to just pick a restaurant, but it doesn’t mean that there won’t be waits or that any additional staff will be on hand.

Multiple Locations

We’ve thought about picking 3-4 places in a small area, having attendees meet us somewhere, and we’d pair them up and send them out to restaurants, round robin style. This could work, but I dislike splitting up the crowd.


A Good Solution

We haven’t come up with  a good solution, but we’re still looking. If you’ve got ideas, especially if you’ve been to one of the other dinners, let us know.

Ultimately this is about getting people to meet each other and interact, so we’d like to keep it low key, low cost, and casual.

Networking at the PASS Summit

The 2014 PASS Summit is coming up in a few weeks and thousands of SQL Server professionals will be coming to Seattle for the event. Many will arrive early, and many will be there for the first or second time in their careers.

Many of them will be that guy (or girl).

Don’t start the week off by yourself, or with a few friends. Come network a bit and meet your fellow SQL Server professionals and #sqlfamily. If you live in Seattle, you’re welcome as well, whether you’re attending the Summit or not. It’s free and everyone is welcome.

The last few years have had Andy Warren and I holding a Networking Dinner on Monday night. It’s been a large success, which by our standards, means that lots of people come and meet each other. We meet new people, and they have a good time. That’s it.

Anyone can come, just register so we have some idea of how many people to expect. Andy has written a short post, but I wanted to add a bit more detail and spread the word.

This is a self-funded event, meaning everyone buys their own food and drinks. Or buy something for a friend. We really built this event with the idea that we wanted to organize something for people to come to and meet each other. No pressure, and no expectation of costs or expenses. The first few years we packed a restaurant on the Seattle waterfront and heard from many people that they really enjoyed it.

Since then, we’ve tried to look for more open environments where people can talk and enjoy some SQL Server talk in a casual atmosphere. We try for a venue that’s not more than 3-4 blocks from the convention center, and we should have a venue soon.

Our goal is to get people to meet each other. Whether its your first Summit or 14th, whether you started working with SQL Server in the last decade or yesterday, this is just a chance and an organized event to meet others.

Come join us, tell friends, and be prepared to introduce yourself and have a conversation with someone else. That’s networking, and it’s the most valuable thing you can do for your career.

We’ve organized a time (and place to be disclosed soon). You can do the same thing. Lots is happening in Seattle, and if you know 20 people, think about creating your own event, dinner, or just casual get together. Pick a time and place, and let PASS know so others can attend.

Register today and I’ll see you in a couple Mondays.


I know that Twitter is really representative of only a fraction of the people in the world, and arguably it’s not even a good representation of any group because it’s a self-selective group that chooses to share thoughts, ideas, news, etc. with the world. However I do enjoy the medium, and find myself learning about the world, thinking about opinions, and once in awhile, getting help.

There is a hashtag on Twitter called #sqlhelp. It’s an amazing tool that I’d highly encourage all of you to consider when you want a quick answer to a problem. Hashtags are a way of denoting tweets about a common subject, though there is no official set of hashtags. You can make one up yourself and see if it catches on.

#sqlhelp certainly did, and I find it useful for many short, quick questions. While I was writing this piece, I saw questions come up on licensing, Oracle->SQL Server conversions, security in a database, and how to read an execution plan. I also saw some noise, with requests for consultants to teach, product advertisements, and a webinar notice. I’m slightly worried that noise level might overwhelm this channel, but if you’re on twitter, you should try using it for your next problem.

As with any answer you get from the Internet, you should test things yourself and decide how trustworthy the source is. You might get an answer from Brent Ozar or Paul Randal, but you might get some new DBA on his first day of work. Also be aware that 140 characters can severely limit the questions you can ask. If it’s complex, I’d suggest you try the SQLServerCentral forums instead.

Whether you like Twitter (and #sqlhelp) or not, I do believe that this is a great example of how our community does a great job of helping each other out. We teach, learn, support, and inspire each other, arguably more than any other industry or technological group I know of. It’s a joy to be a part of the community, and I’d encourage you to join us on Twitter, forums, or local events.

Steve Jones

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Why Should You Network?

This editorial was originally published on August 17, 2009. It is being re-run for the President’s Day holiday.

Why should you network? I’m speaking about interpersonal networking, not the bits and bytes in the ether kind:)

It’s an interesting question and one I’ve been thinking about a lot since reading Andy Warren’s posts on the subject. He thought it was interesting enough to engage Don Gabor for his business and spend a little money to learn how to do it better. After having a few sessions, Andy thought it was helpful enough to get a pre-conference session at PASS on this topic. It’s a short pre-con, 2 hours, and won’t interfere with anything else you’ve booked. It’s an additional $60, but I’ve paid my fee (it’s a business expense) and will be there.

Whether or not you attend the session (it’s limited in size), I think there is value in learning to network better. Andy has reviewed a few books, and I’m sure I’ll have some quick techniques to give you after PASS, or even during it. If you see me during the conference, please don’t hesitate to come up and say hello to me. It’s always great to meet new people.

Back to me question: why network? I’ll give you a few examples in my life. I involuntarily networked myself into this field. When I was in graduate school searching for a job, I saw an internship at the power company. There were a few positions, but one of them was in the EE department, slightly out of my field. The guy in charge, however, was an alum of the University of Virginia, and I applied, and he gave me the job because we were fellow graduates. I had asked him a few months later and he said I got preference for that reason.

In 4 other cases later in my career, I’ve heard about consulting jobs in various places in the US. I haven’t been interested in any of them, but I have passed them along to friends that I’ve gotten to know over the years from SQLServerCentral. These were people that had taken the time to say hi to me at some event and then correspond with me a little. Many of them were authors, and as I got to know their skills, I became comfortable with recommending them for work. It didn’t benefit me other than a little goodwill and the feeling of helping others.

I have heard about similar situations all the time, where people have built a friendship, or some other bond, and then referred work or helped someone get a job. As much as it may upset technical people, it’s still often who you know that matters much more than your technical skills. Networking is a great way to grow your career by knowing more people.

Steve Jones

PS, I don’t get anything from recommending Don’s session at PASS,  but I’ve already paid my fee to go, and since Andy Warren recommended it, I’ll do the same. I trust his advice. And if you don’t go, feel free to ask me anytime during the week about it.

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Grow Your Family

Yesterday I wrote a piece on the networking event that Andy Warren and I host on the Monday before the Summit conference each year. It’s a great event, and I hope more of you can come next year. Our event is really a microcosm of something amazing in the SQL Server community. I haven’t seen it in other technologies I’ve been a part of, and I’m proud that we, as a community, have done something amazing.

The hashtag on Twitter for many events is #sqlfamily. It seems as though the various community members, some speakers, some authors, some watchers, all treat this professional group as a family. We greet each other warmly, we hug, we help each other solve problems or find jobs. And we argue and disagree. We act like a family, a large group of people bonded together.

If you choose to join and participate, it seems that someone will be willing to help you, cheer you up, laugh with you, and be your friend. It’s an amazing group of people, and I have a question for you this Friday.

Will you join the #sqlfamily and meet 3 new people at your next event?

That’s my recommendation for networking and becoming more involved in the community. At your next user group, SQL Saturday, or other event, make an effort to talk to 3 people. Introduce yourself and ask them what they do with SQL Server. It’s that simple to network with people and you never know what will come of a new relationship. Most will be casual “hi, how are you” relationships and some will be “I don’t want to talk to them anymore”, but I bet you get a few closer relationships where you enjoy seeing and talking to the individual.

You might find a new good friend, a contact that you can call for help, or a colleague that calls to offer you a new job.

Steve Jones

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Open Arms

This past Monday night was the annual networking dinner that Andy Warren and I put on before the PASS Summit. Actually “put on” is a bit of an overstatement. We pick a location, call them to ask if a large group can come in, and send out an invitation. People learn about it and if they can, they come and meet people and buy their own food or drinks.

Apparently people still like the idea as we had over 200 people fill up the Buffalo Wild Wings at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte. I stood out front for 45 minutes or so, greeting people and making sure they knew were to go. I bet I shook more than 100 hands in that time, introducing myself to at least half of the people and greeting the others that I’ve known for years. I probably got 50 hugs as well during a long night. I didn’t get a chance to eat dinner until 10pm.

Despite the main event not starting until Wednesday, a lot of people were in town early. Some had pre-conference sessions scheduled, some arrived early to sight-see and adjust to the new time zone, and quite a few attended our SQL in the City on Monday and weren’t even attending the larger conference. All of them came to meet others on Monday night.

It’s an amazing happy hour opportunity for people to meet each other. Andy and I try to make the even welcoming, introducing people to each other whenever we have the chance. We encourage everyone to not just sit with their friends, but meet 3-5 new people and have a short conversation.

I think it works well and even though I’m not attending the conference, I did want to make it to this event and I met some new people that I’ll remember in the future. @sqlhammer and Erroll from Charlotte are two that stand out, but I had lots of short conversations with others that are too numerous to mention.

If you come to the conference next year, think about attending our Monday night event. If you don’t, think about going early (or staying late) at your local user group and doing a little networking. If you go to a SQL Saturday, be sure to say hi to at least 3 new people.

Steve Jones

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Networking at the PASS Summit: First timers

The PASS Summit is just over a week away, and one again Andy Warren and I are hosting a networking dinner on Monday night. This is a free, informal event to help people get to know each other. Whether you are new to the community or have been to many events, you’re welcome to attend. We are targeting first timers, so if you’ve never been to the Summit, and don’t know what things you can do, if you don’t have other plans, come on by.

We want to ensure that people are taking advantage of their time at the Summit, while encouraging them to do more than hang out with themselves or friends. Many of us have done that, but there are better things to do, like meet your colleagues.

Andy and I will greet people and introduce some of you to others. Networking is easy, and this is a chance to meet some new people and make some contacts in the community. We’re providing a time and location, you just have to show up, and of course, pay for your own food and drinks. If you want to buy someone else a round, that’s a great way to make new contacts.

Register and come if you are in town Monday night. There’s no charge, but we’d like to have an idea of how many of you will come by. It’s a Buffalo Wild Wings in Charlotte, from 6-9. The address is below:

400 E Martin Luther King Jr Blvd
Charlotte, NC 28202

I don’t know how much I’ll get to talk to most of you, but I’d like to shake your hand and say hi.