Well, another SQL Saturday is in the books. This time I was speaking at our own SQL Saturday #82 in Indianapolis, IN. Being our first SQL Saturday event the pressure was on to produce a top-tier event for both speakers and attendees alike. Luckily, my parent company Perpetual Technologies, Inc ..AKA PTI ( web | twitter ) allowed us to leverage our expert event coordinator Caroline Bailey to help coordinate everything.. so luckily she took care of a lot of the ground game of getting possible venues …possible caterers…etc…etc…. she really did a fantastic job.
Caroline…. English Event Coordinator Extraordinaire!
I was giving three sessions this time around …..
- Introduction to Service Broker
- Take Back Control with Policy Based Management
- Reporting Services Greatness
Everything went pretty smoothly…. we were a little late getting the morning keynote/welcome message out so that kind of cut into my time a little bit…so I was a little rushed. That was okay though. The crowds seemed really interested in the topics and all sessions had pretty decent attendance. The event venue was totally AWESOME! University of Indianapolis totally rocked as it was a gorgeous campus and the weather was perfect enough for people to go outside to have their lunch or just take a breather in between sessions.
AJ: Why does he ALWAYS have coffee?
So I thought I would share a couple of things that we’ve learned from putting on events for so long that really worked in our favor for this SQL Saturday excursion.
1. Registration: Two things here…..the area has to be set up in a good formation for people to get into and out of the queue. We had people come in and grab their T-shirt and then move right off to the registration table where they could easily find their alphabetically arranged packet and receive their “goodie-bag”. We used nothing fancier than a large paper clip to join everything together to the program.
2. Speaker Networking: I am a firm believer in Andy Warren’s ( blog | twitter ) philosophy of using these events as a networking event as well as an educational one. So this time around we had a speaker’s room where the speakers could privately work on this or that but we also had a little “Speaker’s Corner” area as well so that we could just kind of hang out and talk with attendee…about WHATEVER! I don’t think that we publicized it as well as what we could have but this will be one of the things that I will push for other events to have. After all, from this speaker’s perspective, we are there to teach people stuff and engage …not just for our sessions but for the entire event. So get the hell outta’ the “Speaker’s Cave” and go forth and mingle!
3. Sponsors Area: This is one that I am constantly harping on events to make sure that they do a good job on. Without sponsors …there are no events….as sad as that sounds sometimes, nothing in the world is free. Plus a lot of these companies are selling products that will actually help you. Some of them like Confio, Redgate, Idera, and Perpetual Technologies sponsor a lot of events. Besides that they also pay to have their community people (like me) go out and attend events. That can add up to a lot of coin in the end that they are investing. So make sure that you take into account the traffic flow and where to place your sponsors. If it is between putting the registration area in the corner or putting the sponsors in the corner then put the darn registration there. Besides it’s only heavily used the first part of the day anyway.
For our event we set up the sponsors right along the main corridor of rooms for the event so that people would actually pass by them not only in the morning but all through-out the day as they went from session to session. Sponsors seem to be generally grateful when an event takes time to think of them and that means that will get back to the people in the suits whom write the checks. Those people will be the ones deciding which events to sponsor next year. Be cognoscente of the fact that as more of these events come up it will be up to you to sell your event as the one to sponsor.
Confio be rocking the house!
Thanks again to all of the attendees, sponsors, and speakers for making this event truly ROCK!