Guest Post: Chris Wood on TSQL2sday 148: Lessons from running a user group

Thanks to Rie Merritt for the idea behind this edition of T-SQL Tuesday.
The official title is “Advice on Running a User Group”.

When I saw the topic I just knew I needed to tell my journey. I don’t blog and I’m too late in my career to start so Rie allowed me to send her my UG experience.

I became a SQL Server DBA in 1997 and it didn’t take me long to realize I needed to get training. I found out about SQL Connections 2000 in New Orleans and went and probably it was there that I discovered PASS. Remember social media wouldn’t have been mainstream then so I’m just guessing how I found out about PASS. 

I went to my 1 st  PASS Summit in 2002 and other than one of the lunches having regional tables where I would sit with people from Vancouver or Calgary and rarely Edmonton, I never knew what interest there was in my home town.

Then out of the blue, I got an email saying that Colin Stasiuk was forming an Edmonton chapter and the first meeting would be in a room in the downtown library. Colin co-wrote Pro SQL Server 2008 Policy-Based Management. I attended and of course, volunteers were asked to help run the group. I
volunteered as Communications Director. My job was simply to tell our membership about events as Colin got the speakers. So I sent out emails every so often.

Colin kept the group running for a few year before Harry, Brent, Zeny, and now Ian became the president and we got ambitious enough to hold 4 SQL Saturdays before Covid stopped the 5th from happening. Somewhere in that timeframe, I became the guy getting the speakers including for our SQL
Saturdays. We could rely on SQLSkills to offer speakers as well as my network expanded thru many more PASS Summits and 3 SQL Cruises (Tech Outbound). We had a meeting room so we could talk and go for a drink after the meetings.

When Covid struck it became easier to get speakers, as everything was remote and more difficult to get people to attend. Our meetings are at the end of the day and I am sure people have Zoom/Teams fatigue by then. Plus I think we work different hours now as it’s all from Home Offices.

The group transitioned from PASS to AzureDataCommunity just about a year ago. I am a member of several groups, so I get to watch presentations and especially #NewStarsOfData where I have found 2 new presenters who needed the experience. If I like a presentation, I might ask the presenter to
perform for my group. Edwin Sarmiento comes to mind last year. I have several from #sqlfamily I can always count on and as happened late last month, Rie Irish promoted my request for speakers with perhaps the highlight being getting Rob Farley and 3 other MVPs to hold a panel discussion in
August.

This marks my 14 th  year as Communications Director for what we are now called, Edmonton Microsoft Data Professionals. I still enjoy doing it and hope to encourage others.

I always thought of PASS as Learn it and PASS it on. That would be my learning. Things evolve, hang in there and trust the community to have your back, they always do.

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