Thanks to Rie Merritt (b | t) for the idea behind this edition of T-SQL Tuesday. The official title is “Advice on Running a User Group”. I do lead the Lexington (Kentucky, USA) Data Technology Group (t) so, in theory, I have some advice to offer on how to run a user group that will be coming up on its fifth anniversary this fall, right?
The truth is that I don’t have any tips that are guaranteed to get you more attendees, more and better sponsors, or a fantastic blend of local and well-known speakers. All those things are good and, based on the posts from earlier today (I’m getting this in just under the gun), there are many people with excellent tips and tricks to offer in these areas. Please be sure to read all of the posts this month to learn all the useful information being shared by fellow members of #sqlfamily.
My advice is simple and I have the one and only Bob Ward (t) to thank for this bit of advice, although he is likely only realizing this if/when he finds out about this post. I do not recall the specific SQL Saturday (it may have been Atlanta or Dallas?) but I was in the speaker room with a few folks talking about the schedule that day. We were all lightly joking about who would and wouldn’t have people in their session because some of us were up against “SQL famous” people. Bob overheard us and said, in a friendly way, something along the lines of “if you’ve helped one person today, you’ve done a good thing”. That may not be an exact quote given that I can’t remember the specific event, but that was the gist and it has stuck with me.
When COVID-19 impacted the world it threw many, many things into disarray. Many people lost family, we lost #sqlfamily (bless you @GarethSwan, for the impact you had on me and so many others), and the rhythm of data community events that we had come to know vanished. Organizers, speakers, and volunteers lost some or all motivation to assist with events, user groups, conferences, etc. This hit me hard and affected many others as well. Much appreciation to all who shared those struggles publicly.
But, through all of this, those somewhat off-handed words that Bob offered in that speaker room in days gone by have continually popped up in my brain. If you’ve seen me helping out, it’s because of those words. If you see me at SQLBits this week, it’s largely because of those words (and somewhat because my wife thought I should leave the house sometimes!). As a wise fish in a movie once said, just keep swimming. Keep doing good. Keep helping people. Whatever your role in a user group is, do it as well as you can. If you’ve helped one person, you’ve done a good thing. It’s good advice for your day, your life, and your interactions with #sqlfamily. Thanks to each of you for everything you do and feel free to reach out if you’d like to chat. Thanks for reading.