Tuesday, April 12, 2011

PASS SQLRally–Thoughts from an Organizer


There have been lots of blog posts about PASS SQLRally (Bing Search), but there haven’t been a lot recently from the organizers.  As today (April 12th) is the last day for the discounted $299 price I thought it would be good to talk about why I think it is a good model for an event, what I’ve done for SQLRally, and why you should attend.

Why is the SQLRally model good?

Because it is a partnership between local user groups and PASS.  This is a plus because you have the large event experience of those at PASS HQ, but also fresh ideas and new perspectives from the local people.  Just like in any endeavor, you can get stuck in a rut on how you do things and bringing in some new people brings in new ideas that haven’t been considered.  This means that each SQLRally will have a unique identity provided by the local organizers, but you get the experience of those who have put on multiple events.

Because it is regional.  The PASS Summit is a great international conference, but it is large, expensive, and a long way to travel for many people.  This means that you can’t necessarily make it every year.  Because SQLRally is regional, it is less expensive, more intimate, and accessible.  It also means that you the networking available to you is with more people from your region, which means the contacts you make may be more useful to you than national or international contacts you make at a larger conference.  Both have value, but local contacts can help you on-site or, if you are looking, provide you with local opportunities.

It is about the community.  This is YOUR event.  You selected the sessions from pre-con’s to regular sessions, you go to evaluate the abstracts and select the sessions that would be most valuable to YOU.

What I’ve Done?

My main areas of contribution have been in sponsor plan development, event programming, and speaker communication. 

For the sponsor plan development, I got to work with Al Schuler and Craig Ellis and I think we did a great job since we sold out the sponsorships.  It was a great learning experience for me because I got some insight into how to market an event to sponsors and how to break out some thins apart from general sponsorship. 

Andy Warren and I developed the speaker selection process which consisted of breaking the submissions into categories within each track for voting purposes.  We spent a lot of time discussing how that should work and putting sessions into each category.  Our goal in categorizing the submissions within each track was to ensure variety in the sessions.  It’s really easy to pick all the performance tuning sessions as you know those will be popular, but that wouldn’t make a well-rounded event.  Once the sessions were voted on, I communicated the results to the presenters, selected the wild card & deep-dive sessions, and then put together the event schedule.

I’ve also been working on what I’m calling SQLRally Overdrive, which is 3 more laid-back sessions on Thursday evening from 5:45-7:00 pm.  These sessions will be designed to have more interaction between attendees and facilitate networking.

Why Should You Attend?

SQLRally brings much of the Summit experience to you.  We have a great mix of seasoned Summit presenters along with up and coming speakers who have a lot to offer.  With the more intimate setting it should be easier to make new connections and develop those relationships.  You’ll learn from people who are DOING the same job you are, and be able to take home practical solutions that you implement the Monday after the event.  Check out the ROI page for what you can take to your boss to convince him/her to allow you to go to SQLRally.

I hope to see you there!

1 comment:

  1. Hey Jack,
    Great blog it is awesome to see things from the other side, I've always been an attendee or speaker and never an organizer.
    Thanks for all the hard work you guys are doing on SQL Rally!


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