Thursday, October 1, 2009

Tips for Networking at PASS

This year will be my third trip to the PASS conference.  If you have met me or had any conversation with me, you know that I LIKE TO TALK.  If time permitted I would try to meet and talk with everyone in attendance at the conference.  When I speak at or attend a User Group meeting I try to meet everyone that was in attendance.  At PASS its almost impossible to accomplish this because there are so many people at the event.  As a result, I usually just meet as many people as possible.  So how do I meet these people?  I am so happy you asked.  This is what I do:

1.  If you want to meet someone like Andy Warren, Steve Jones, Kalen Delaney or Kevin Kline, you almost have to make an appointment, but we all know that is not possible.  What I do is arrive early to their session or I may even attend the session prior to their session.  Sometimes I sit outside the room prior to the start of the session.  What I have found is that these guys like to talk as much as I do, and the usually welcome a good conversation.

2.  Always have a stack of business cards and a notepad.  The first thing I do when I meet someone is give them my business card and ask for one in return.  If they don’t have one I hand them my note pad and ask that they write their contact information down.  Some people will and some will not, but all they can say is yes or no.

3.  Go to lunch!  There are so many opportunities for networking at lunch.  Most of the time when I sit at a lunch table there are 7 or 8 people sitting there in silence.  I quickly change that, because I introduce myself to each person and give them a business card, asking for one in return.  Believe it or not I do this everyday that I am there.  During lunch at my first PASS conference I met a group of DBAs that worked for Progressive Auto Insurance.  I actually was offered a job with Progressive.

4.  During a session I always sit next to someone that I don’t know.  Most of the time that person will start a conversation with you.  If not, simply introduce yourself and a conversation usually begins.

5.  Finally, if you are invited to a mixer at the end of the day, GO!  The Casino Night hosted by SQL Server Central is a great event and great opportunity to meet lots of people.

At the end of the day I return to my hotel and add all the people that I meet to my contacts list.  When I get back to the office I usually send out a follow-up email to each person that I met.  So if you see me at the conference please stop me,  I am always looking for a good conversation.  Be prepared to write your name down on my notepad if you don’t have a business card.

Talk to you soon

Patrick LeBlanc, Founder and SQL Lunch

SQL Down South

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