November #SQLChat – How to Build your Name Recognition and SQL Network

For those who don’t know Idera Software sponsors a SQLChat on Twitter once a month. This month I got the privilege to host and had come up with a topic and questions for discussion. Below are the questions and answers I provided as well as some from others that chimed in. I think these are worth noting and give some valuable information especially to newbies of the SQL Community.

Q1: How have you benefited from networking with SQL professionals?

My Answer: As a lone DBA networking has gained me “co-workers”. I now have people to bounce ideas off of. I use these connections daily. Many have gained job opportunities based on just networking and getting to know other SQL professionals. I actually know several companies that hire based on SQL Networking relationships instead of utilizing recruiters. Networking exposes you to so many other facets of SQL you may not have otherwise looked into. My follow- up responses are depicted in italics.

A1: I have met incredible people who opened doors for my career. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them – @SQLDBA Kendal Van Dyke

I too have experienced this.  Getting connected and familiar with the SQL Community can really launch and expand on your career.

A1: If you don’t talk to folks in the same prof. you in a silo in many ways that can be a serious obstacle to progress – ‏@sqlmal  Malathi Mahadevan

I totally agree with this one. I found myself before I started networking in my own little world not really expanding my knowledge.

A1: I’ve built my network & ID’d a Go-To SQL Person for a variety of problems: Backups, mirroring, index, optimize, etc – @IrishSQL Rie Irish

I actually talk about this is my SQL Saturday presentation. Getting Go-To experts in all aspects of SQL Server is key, especially for a lone DBA like me. You cannot be an expert in everything, but you can build a network of those who are experts in their own realm of SQL Server.

A1: I was burnt out & wanted to change professions before I went to my first UG mtg and started meeting people and it re-energized me –@sqlgator Ed Watson

It is so easy in this field to get burnt out. I truly love how inspiring and motivating our community is.

Q2: What avenues have you used to build your SQL network?

My Answer: Twitter first and foremost. I am on it almost every day talking to SQLFamily and building those relationships. Even if it is just to say “Good Morning!”, people get used to seeing you every day and you becoming more involved. I also blog now and speak at SQL Saturdays. Now that I am an Idera ACE for 2016 you will be seeing more of me this year as I travel around to more SQL events. I am extremely excited to get even more involved.  Another great aspect of this community is that it’s easy for introverts to mingle their way in because it’s so inviting. We have lots of introverts in this community. There is a place for everyone.

A2: I’ve found that while SQL Sats, Summit etc are helpful, adding in Twitter is like rocket fuel for the process- @sqlstudent144 Kenneth Fisher

This is very true, add Twitter to your networking tools and you will see how much of an impact it will have.

A2: On Twitter since an amazing #SQLPass at the recommendation of @GlennAlanBerry been blown away by the SQL Love and support on Twitter – @_adamnichols Adam Nichols

I love this one. It goes to show how inviting our community is to new comers. The passion for what we all do shines through even in just 140 characters.

A2: Twitter! SQLSaturdays, user groups and events like PASS Summit and SQLBits. Newest is Slack – @cathrinew Cathrine Willhelmsen

The WIT (SQL Women In Technology) group has just started a new Slack channel, for those ladies that want to get involved, drop me an email or direct message I’ll get you invited.

A2: I joined the #sqlchat today and from reading the Tweets, it feels like a great SQL resource – @crhanks Cary Hanks

This is exactly why we do these types of things. It helps to get more involved and share our experiences with each other.

Q3: How can newcomers get started on networking within the SQL community?

My Answer: Get a Twitter account! Just start interacting don’t be afraid to jump into conversations, we don’t bite and I hear we have cookies.  Make sure when you setup your Twitter account and use SQL in your handle or at least in your Bio. It helps us recognize family members. In addition, change your avatar to an actual picture of yourself, start getting yourself out there. It’s great to put a face with a name.

A3:  Advice for to newcomers is to start with your local user group, attend SQL Saturdays and talk to the organizer and Tweet. – @LindsayOClark Lindsay Clark

If you don’t know if your town has a local user group, visit the PASS website and look it up.  If there is not one near you, try a virtual chapter those too are a great resource and way to get involved.

A3: Agreed if it is on Twitter and you can see it, it’s a public conversation –jump in. – @DanielGlenn

This a great tip to remember and several others chimed in and stated the exact same thing. Jump in to conversations freely, people will respond to you. Don’t be afraid to do so.

A3: Getting out of lurker mode on Twitter helps. Introduce yourself! I  often suggest new users of Twitter give a look to @BrentO’s free ebook on the topic brentozar.com/twitter/book@vickyharp Vicky Harp

This is fantastic resource for those new to Twitter. Great advice Vicky! I also completely agree with getting out of lurker mode. You can gain a lot by watching conversations and reading the information shared but you again even more by participating.

Q4: Do you have name recognition? Why do you think that’s important?

My Answer: I am working on building name recognition, I’ve begun using SQLEspresso on my blog, cards, and emails. I think it’s easier to remember then a name. I think building name recognition just opens doors it is not about becoming “SQLFamous”.  I’ll admit it floors me when someone recognizes me as SQLEspresso, I get a kick out of it.

A4: I heard “Oh, hey, you’re @AMtwo!” more than once at PASS Summit. Name recognition helps build relationships – @AMTwo  Andy

I’ve had this same thing happen, many others in the chat said they did too.  Since we are all located all over the globe social media, blogs etc. are our personalities and only interaction with many #SQLFamily members.  It’s important to build that name recognition and keep building it in order for people to remember you because of the lack of in person interactions.

A4: I have some name recognition. Enough for me. It helps when I need answers & gives more weight when I give answers – @IrishSQL Rie Irish

A little goes a long way. I agree with Rie, the more your name is out there the more credence you responses and questions get.

A4: I try to use the same photo of myself everywhere to help with self-brand recognition –  @johnsterrett  John Sterrett

This too is great advice. If you are trying to build a brand or name recognition consistency across all platforms is a must.  I’ve actually just started doing this myself.

Q5: What names or brands do you recognize? Why do you think that is?  

My Answer: There are so many names in the SQL Community I recognize because they make themselves visible and give back to the community.  They also promote others to get involved; you can see their passion for SQL Server and its family.

A5: Brent Ozar (wicked marketing chops) Paul Randal, Kimberly Tripp etc. They all have excellent branding –@sqlrus John Morehouse

These are a few of the “big” names you see every day. Why are they big names… because they give their time and knowledge to our community. They are active and are consistent in their brands image.

A5: I recognize people who write books/blogs, who speak at UGs & SQL Saturday type events, & engage, on Twitter. –@SQLDBA Kendal Van Dyke

I think Kendal’s response enforces the idea of noticing those that get involved and give back.

A5: Leaders are “created” by their efforts and community acknowledgement. The most referenced names are that was for a reason. – @tomsql Tom Staab

A5: I think cheerful helpers in the SQL community gain name recognition whether they seek it or not. –@vickyharp Vicky Harp

I can’t agree more with Tom and Vicky. You don’t have to seek name recognition it is naturally created. You probably have more name recognition than you think.

Q6: How do you find time to network and build your personal brand? Are you able to do it as much as you’d like?

My Answer: I make time. Even just a little here and there makes a difference. I take a minute every day to pop into Twitter and say Hi.  I have started writing a weekly blog, as time allows and I give my time to my SQL user group. For those who know me personally they know I have a crazy schedule and as a lone DBA my work load is tremendous but the SQL community is important to me and I find time to network and get involved. It’s worth every minute of my time.

A6: I spend time building my brand and networking without knowing I am doing it. I focus on things I am passionate about so it’s really just my hobby time – @johnsterrett  John Sterrett

Many people have a brand and don’t even know they do. It’s just something the freely develops and can be cultivated if wanted.  I also find and think most people will agree if you’re passionate about SQL server it is a hobby for you and you make time. It’s one of the great things about our careers; we find it fun and don’t think of it as a job.

A6: I wish I could spend time participating in #SQLChat today. A meeting’s preventing me from it. Just wanted to say I <3 #SqlFamily –@DBAArgenis Argenis Fernandez

This is exactly my point. You make time. Argenis wanted to support me in this #SQLChat and made it a point to make time. Thanks Argenis!

All and all the chat session went really well. There are a lot of take a ways from this. The few I have I highlighted here helps drive home my point.  My notifications on Twitter blew up with so many responses; I wish I could include more in this post. We actually broke a record for Idera on the most tweets and involvement for a #SQLChat with over 370 tweets.  Thanks to all that played a part in the conversation, I hope it was as fun for you as it was for me. I am looking forward to next month’s topic.

Attending Summit as a New Leader

It’s that time again where everyone writes their post PASS Summit Blog and tells of the great time they had with SQL Family and all the exciting new things they learned.  While those are both very true for me as well, I want to talk about how it felt to go to Summit as a new leader in the community.

This year I became a Chapter Leader and spent Tuesday at Summit in the PASS Chapter Leader and SQL Saturday meetings. It was an honor for me to walk into those meetings and collaborate with such a phenomenal group of people.  It was even more remarkable to be called out by name by more than a few.  I even commented to a couple of people that I can’t believe I was there legitimately (yes, I have crashed a few speaker dinners in my day, while not being a speaker).  Since it was only Tuesday, being involved in these meetings really helped to set a positive outlook for the remainder of my time at the Summit.

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Now there were more than a few “old timers” there that had been running their chapter for years and wasn’t nearly as enthralled with some of the information being presented in the meeting. They had heard it all before, but for me it was all new and stimulating. As I sat back and listened to their input and looked at the slides, I was impressed to see how many active chapters PASS has and how many SQL Saturdays were delivered in 2015. The staggering amount of effort and time that people freely give to help build others and improve this community is astounding to me.  I don’t think people realize how much time, effort and passion goes into running a chapter or putting on a SQL Saturday.  I was inspired.

One of my favorite parts of the meetings were the question and answer sessions with vendor representatives. It really opened my eyes on how both parties need and support the other’s initiatives. It was a reminder that they are not just there to give us money, they also provide education, and give backing to community members willing to share their knowledge with others. Programs such as the Idera Ace Program and Friends of Red-gate do just that.  In return for their funding chapters and community members give them exposure, contact lists, and help promote their products. It’s very much a give and take. The vendors also gave great advice for chapter leaders as when and how to get sponsorship; timing and planning ahead are essential. I took lots of notes.

For the remainder of Summit, I talked to other leaders and got ideas to take back to my chapter. I worked on making even more connections and getting speakers lined up for our upcoming 2016 calendar year. I engaged in discussions on how to get more involved and build future leaders.

It was kind of different take on Summit for me. Don’t get me wrong I attended my share of sessions including a great Pre Con by Argenis Fernandez, David Klee and Jimmy May on Virtualization. I went to all the PASS Sponsored night time events and attended more than my fair share of Vendor parties. It was a fantastic week with the #SQLFamily as always.  There is nothing like spending a week with like-minded people discussing things you are passionate about.

Now that it’s wrapped up, I want to take that inspiration I gained and do something more with it. This year I have set a goal for myself to be an example of how to get involved and make a difference.  I would love to help inspire future leaders by spreading my enthusiasm through speaking at SQL Saturdays, running my chapter and volunteering where ever needed. I challenge you to do the same.

See you guys at the next PASS Summit I will be there for sure!

Everything is coming up ACE’s

I am thrilled to announce that I have been chosen as one of the 2016 Idera ACE’s. It is truly an honor to be part of this great program and give back to the SQL community.

What is an Idera ACE?

According to Idera.small ace duck

“ACEs (Advisors & Community Educators) are active community members who have shown a passion for helping the community and sharing their knowledge. We help the ACEs pursue that passion by sponsoring travel to
select events and offering guidance for soft skill training.

Requirements to become an Idera ACE:

  • Enthusiastic members & leaders of the SQL community
  • Accomplished contributors to the SQL community
  • Good speaker, writer and presenter
  • Demonstrated a passion for educating fellow community members

My SQL Saturday Addiction

Recently I joked on Twitter, that I am now addicted to SQL Saturday’s and need a GO FUND ME just to pay for them all. Well, that is no longer the case. As an ACE, Idera will generously sponsor some of my 2016 speaking engagements. This year I will have attended 5, next year with Idera’s help I hope to attend even more.  This amazing gift will allow me to not only grow in my career but also help others to as well.

What I Love About This

Being an ACE doesn’t mean we have to be sales people for Idera. Instead we are given means to enrich our knowledge about Idera along with opportunities to give feedback. We get to participate in Beta testing and tell them how we have used their products in the past, to help them continually improve. I cannot wait to start working with the product teams.

The Need for Tools

As a lone DBA, I rely on products such as those from Idera to juggle my daily work load. As I say in my session about Survival Techniques for a Lone DBA, I have to be an octopus to get all the work done. Products like the ones from Idera act as my extra arms. They allow me to quickly monitor my servers, perform administrative tasks, and perform health checks among many other things without having to write my own scripts. The time these tools save me is invaluable so I am happy to be able to contribute my input on them.

Thanks

I thank Idera for investing in me. I will fully take advantage and make the most of it. I am humbled by the fact I have been chosen as a 2016 Idera ACE. Congrats to the other newly appointed ACE’s, I look forward to working with you!

 

Master of None

Being a Lone DBA gives you so much exposure to so many facets of SQL Server. Since I am just one I get to work on Replication, Administration, Security, Business Intelligence, Disaster Recovery, Reporting Services, Integration Services, Analysis Services, Database design, Development, Performance… you name it I get to dabble in it. However, being able to work on every facet also means I will never be a Master at any of it and that’s okay by me.
jack

For a Type A personality, like me, this is a hard thing to come to terms with. I‘ve learned with time to be fine with not knowing everything. I relish in the fact that I get to do and experience MUCH more than most. Those that are not Lone DBAs have to divide and conquer or are responsible for just a hand full of areas (like security, or DR, or Change management). However in our line of work, there is always a need for GO TO Experts. Through networking, I have gained several friends that have become my experts. I have an expert for things like PowerShell, Database Internals, Storage, Availability Groups, T-SQL etc… If I need expert knowledge on something they are always willing to lend a hand. If you don’t have a network of GO TO experts whether you are a Lone DBA or not, I strongly suggest you start building those relationships.

So, that being said, I will never be one of those GO TO experts. However, if someone asks a question if I have ever done something or had a particular issue…in most cases the answer is yes.  How do I accomplish that? The answer is by creating a broad skill set. I self-teach by dabbling in things. I am not afraid of trial and error. I learn all the SQL Tools I can and use them where appropriate.  I attend as many SQL training events I can manage.  learmingI am always trying to further diversify my knowledge base.  I attend my user group meetings (now run them), virtual training sessions, watch 24HOP sessions, I get the Summit Sessions on USB every year to watch when I have time, and finally I attend SQL Saturdays.  All of these avenues are great ways to further my knowledge base.

The most important tip I can give is learn just what you need to get most jobs done and don’t try to master it. It’s okay to be a master of none, revel in it, and embrace you get work on so many things. It will make you very marketable; there are not many of us that are given that opportunity.

So How Did It Go?

My first time speaking at a SQL Saturday is now behind me.  I cannot wait to do it again. The support from the SQL Family leading up to and after the event was nothing I expected, it was beyond AMAZING. From high fives in the halls to virtual hugs. I had my own cheering section.

I was a little nervous and talked probably too fast at times, I am sure, but I hear everyone does on their first time out, right? (Evidently, I say that a lot) The good part was that the audience looked to be truly engaged and listening to what I had to say. I even had a few attendees come up to me afterwards and tell me they enjoyed the session and wanted my card. I can’t describe the high you get from that. I, totally, know now why speakers give up their time to do this.comments

Anyhow, I just wanted to say thanks for all the support and I am looking forward to speaking and sharing my knowledge with others.

Moving Forward

To continue to feed my new found addiction, I have already submitted to speak at a couple more SQL Saturday’s.  More specifically, I submitted to speak at SQL Saturday #478 in Albuquerque, New Mexico and to SQL Saturday #470 in Washington, D.C.. I hope that these events will allow me to move forward in becoming a better speaker and to continue giving back to this awesome community! Either way speaking or not, I’ll see you at my next SQL Saturday in DC.

Admit You Can’t Do Everything

As most of you know, I have been a Lone DBA for 15+ years and during that time I have learned a thing or two about how to survive on my own in relatively large environments.  One of those things is knowing when to admit you cannot do it all.  Working alone on 56 servers you can imagine how the workload can seem insurmountable.  There are times when in one week I will do 70+ tasks, not including project work and daily monitoring.  To manage and get this type of workload accomplish you have to learn to work smarter not harder. That’s when you have to enlist help and hire consultants.

But I am Afraid

Many people think that hiring consultants is admitting you are incapable of doing your job. Some think that if you hire consultants, it opens the door for the company to think that they may not need an “in house” DBA. It may lead them to just hire a consulting company to do the work. At the last company I worked for employees frowned and complained every time a consultant was brought in for anything.  Some even refused to share knowledge hoping to protect their jobs somehow.   I think this is nonsense.  You shouldn’t worry about being replaced by consultants.  A consultant only has superficial knowledge of the company.  You are the one that knows the whys, how’s, and understand the needs of the business.  The consultants don’t.  Don’t let it scare you.

Free Up Your Time

The biggest opponent I have to contend with as a Lone DBA is time. I have no time; every minute of my work day is used.  My world is all about prioritizing what needs to get done. Sometimes there is just not enough time in the day.  Hiring a consultant doesn’t mean you can’t do the work; it means you are managing your work load.

I hire consultants from time to time to free up my plate and cover some of the workload so I am able to focus on higher priorities. At times, I use them to do the normal redundant or routine admin work, little things that add up to a lot of time in a week.  On other occasions, I admittedly give them stuff I don’t want to do, or get tired of doing (but if you know me, I never really get “tired” of doing anything DBA related, I am just proving a point).  I will also give them the big projects that take too much time. Time is invaluable. For example, I may need to build a new cube. That as you may know, takes a lot of time. I know how to build and design cubes, but why should I spend hundreds of hours working on that when I can farm that out?

Do You Want to Take Vacation Ever?

Vacation, what’s that? Most DBA’s can take vacation without having to do work, because there is someone to cover and share your responsibilities. When it’s just you; you take work on vacation with you. One of the best benefits of hiring a consultant or a DBA service is to be able to leave that work load at work and take a real vacation. It took me years to realize this. I took my first vacation without work just earlier this year, it was wonderful to hand the reins over for a week and not have to worry about it.

Gotachas

However, there are a few gotchas to admitting you can’t do everything and hiring a consultant. One of the main one for me is giving up what you like to do. I love the core DBA stuff; turning that over to someone else to do is not easy for me. Relinquishing that can be very tough.  I also find that having to spend time hand holding the consultant is another gotcha. Consultants do not know the ins and outs of your environment. Getting them started on a project can take time away from you but in the end it’s worth it.

Embrace It

The moral of the story is I think it’s hugely important to admit to yourself that you can’t do it all. It took years for me to realize that I don’t have to do it all.  If you are juggling a workload for many when you are just one consider hiring help. You’ll thank me for it.

My First Speaking SQL Saturday

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I will be speaking at my first SQL Saturday on September 26th in Spartanburg SC.  I am so excited to have been selected to give my session on Survival Techniques for the Lone DBA.  After a year of, not so subtle hints from the SQL Family (John Morehouse (b|t), Rie Irish (t), Melody Zacharias (b|t), Mike Fal (b|t), Argenis Fernandez (b|t) , Kirsten Benzel (b|t), Andy Yun (b|t), Lindsay Clark (t)), I submitted my first session and got selected.   I will be finally standing up before a room of colleagues and talking about my experience as a lone DBA for the last 15+ years.

What did I just do?

Unless you have ever submitted to a SQL Saturday, you have no idea how it feels to input your biography and abstract into the site and hit that submit button. It is exhilarating and scary all at once. You get this “Oh crap! what did  I just do?!” feeling. Part of you hopes you get selected to speak and the other little part of you wants to say “Ok I submitted, let that be enough for now.“ I am very happy to have gotten selected and I’m looking forward to hitting that submit button on many more events.

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I gave this session last month at my local user group and I now totally understand why so many take the opportunity to speak.  The thrill you experience as the audience engages in what you have to share is overwhelming. I loved to see the proverbial light bulb turn on, after showing another way of doing something. It was so much fun (yes I am a dork, I know).  One of the best things I experienced after doing the session was reading the session feedback forms.  If you are one of the ones that normally don’t give feedback I ask you to reconsider. The feedback is how we as speakers (yep me included now) can improve. I was pleasantly surprised at the comments and happy to learn they got more out of the session they expected. Mission accomplished in my book. I can’t wait to see the feedback from SQL Saturday! Hopefully I’ll get some feedback on what to improve upon.

Look! I am on the schedule! Come join me at 3:45-4:45.Capture

I’m It – Survival Techniques for the Lone DBA

Abstract: Are you the only database person at your company? Are you both the DBA and the Developer? Being the only data professional in an environment can seem overwhelming, daunting, and darn near impossible sometimes. However, it can also be extremely rewarding and empowering.  This session will cover how you can keep your sanity, get stuff done, and still love your job. We’ll cover how I have survived and thrived being a Lone DBA for 15 years and how you can too.  When you finish this session, you’ll know what you can do to make your job easier, where to find help, and how to still be able to advance and enrich your career.

Why not attend?

So, if you are in the Spartanburg, SC area that weekend come out and get come free SQL Training and stop by my session that afternoon. You can register for the event at https://www.sqlsaturday.com/431/EventHome.aspx and here is the lineup of sessions https://www.sqlsaturday.com/431/Sessions/Schedule.aspx .

Hope to see you there; it’s going to be a great event!

The Outpouring

I’ve wanted to write about this for months, now that I have a blog I can finally do it.

Earlier this year, I found out, thru Twitter that fellow SQL Family member Larry Toothman (@IowaTechBear), had suffered a stroke. Having never met Larry in person, but having spoken to him on occasion via Twitter I wanted to let him know that people in his SQL community wished him well. That morning I tweeted that I was going to collect money for flowers to send him on behalf of the SQL Family.

larrystartUnfortunately, we soon got word that Larry was on life support. A few days later he passed away. Within those few days and the week that followed the outpouring of generosity the SQL Family was incomprehensible.  The small flower fund I was trying for turned into a substantial memorial fund.
Larry1

To collect the funds, I set up a PayPal account and tweeted that I would continue to accept money for a few days. The money would be used to send something to Larry’s husband on our behalf. I really only expected but a few $5 donations here and there. To my surprise it took just a simple tweet and the dollar total rapidly climbed. I could not believe that SQL Family members started blindly sending me money (Me, just a DBA, in Virginia that happens to tweet a lot).

People I never met were giving me $25, $50 and $100 at a time towards this fund. Let’s think about that for a moment.  What group of “strangers” do you know that just sends money to help the family of “another DBA from Iowa”?   That is exactly what happened.
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Over the next week, money continued flooding in from all over the world. I got donations from as far away as Denmark, Australia, South Africa, Norway, Canada, London, and all over the United States. Some people would send me a direct message to simply say they didn’t know Larry, but wanted to donate so that his husband knew people from across the globe cared.

All in all the family raise over $2000, Frank (@IowaCub), Larry’s husband,  was overcome by our generosity and truly grateful for what we had done.

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This just another example of the unique nature of our SQL Family, thanks to everyone that contributed.

How I joined the SQL Family

For my first blog I want to talk about my experience as a member of SQL Family.

My Start

I started my career as a lone DBA, 15 years ago, with zero knowledge of what SQL Server actually was. I was promoted into a sole DBA job with expectations I would get certified and take the bull by the horns to manage the 50+ SQL Servers .  The company, The Port of Virginia, took a big risk with me, but within 6 months’ time the gamble had paid off. In the beginning, most of what I learned to do the job was from a site called SSWUG.org. This is where a man by the name of Chris Shaw “Shaw” (t|b) unknowingly mentored me for three years. Twice a year I would register for the virtual training conferences the site had to offer where I attended almost every session Shaw presented.

My First PASS Summit

After a several years as DBA, I was given the opportunity to attend my very first PASS Summit. This is when I began to find out what SQL Family was and when my exposure to SQL Server grew exponentially. Prior to going to Summit I registered for Summit’s “First Timers” program, I was assigned to a volunteer, SQL Family member, TJay Belt (t|b). His job was to tell us how to prepare for Summit and how to get the most out of it. In his first email, he suggested we setup a Twitter account before doing anything else. He said to use SQL as part of your handle and just start following the #summit11 hash tag. So I did. Creating a Twitter account was one of the best pieces of advice that I could have gotten.

On the first day at Summit, I attended a session given by Shaw and after the session I introduced myself to him. I told him that he was my mentor and thanked him for sharing his knowledge with me. For me it was like meeting a celebrity (cheesy, I know). I was pleasantly surprised how nice he was and humbled he was to hear how much his sessions had meant to me. Shaw ended up being the first SQL Family member I met in person. I ran into him a few more times that week and by the end of the week he made a promise to me to get me an autographed SSWUGGIE.  A “SSWUGGIE” is a Snuggie blanket with the SSWUG logo on it. Some speakers wore them in the virtual conference sessions and I thought they were cute at the time. A month later, I received it in the mail.

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During Summit I traded business cards with so many people, talked with so many different DBA’s, attended all the events, and some after parties. Luckily for me, I am very outgoing and just jumped in with both feet taking advantage of everything Summit offered (which I highly encourage others to do). I met more than a dozen active SQL Family members that week. Upon returning home I logged into Twitter and began following everyone who gave me a business card.

My New Virtual Co- workers

As a lone DBA, Twitter has given me an outlet and supplied me with thousands of new co- workers.  Over the years, I have relied heavily on these connections. I can find help by just tweeting questions or using the #SQLHelp hash tag. All hours of the day and night SQL Family will come out of the woodwork to help me and others. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been able work through an issue, talk through ideas, and just vent to them. SQL Family has generously shared their knowledge and guidance which has in turn helped me grow as a DBA.

Becoming a Valued Member of the Family

Now that I, myself, am a seasoned DBA with knowledge to share, I want to begin doing for others what SQL Family has done for me. I have started speaking at SQL Saturdays (thanks to being encouraged by SQL Family members), I am running my local SQL Server User Group (thanks to Derik Hammer (t|b)), and now look at me I am blogging. I find myself immersed daily in SQL Family. Each morning when I log into work I also log into Twitter and say good morning to them. I have Twitter open on my desktop all day looking to see what’s going on with #SQLHelp, reading blogs I see tweeted, and just staying part of ongoing SQL conversations.  Every day the SQL Family continues to teach me something new.

Thankful

I never imagined that when I started as a lone DBA that I would be able to walk in the footsteps of my mentor Chris Shaw and contribute to others in the SQL community.  I’ve been able to begin to give back to the family that helped raise me in the SQL world. Thanks to all of you that knowing or unknowingly impacting my career and for bringing me into the amazing community we lovingly call SQL Family.  Looking forward to our Annual SQL Family Reunion they call PASS Summit. I am proud to be a member.