We’ve had lots of great blog posts lately on what you need to do for your first time at the SQL PASS Summit. I thought I would add some info as well. Hopefully you will benefit from it.
Start at the beginning.
Layers of clothing are best in the Pacific Northwest areas like Seattle. You can expect 50-60’s during the day. You can find more info here. I typically bring a light jacket that has fleece inside and blocks the wind. I’ve yet to take an umbrella to PASS. I’ve lucked out in either needing to not walk far in the rain or it just not raining that much to matter. Typically the rain is light and since most activities are close to the convention center you can cab or walk easily. Bring plenty of cables; Surge protectors can be very helpful since there are never enough outlets when you need them (in hotel or in the convention center). Comfy shoes, these are very important you will do lots of walking while at the summit. Bring an extra bag, or bring one that can be folded down so it packs easily on your way to the summit. You typically get lots of Swag at the summit and you need a bag to ship back or bring it home in. Consider shipping as an option since Airline fees for luggage can be horrible (there is a fedex center in the convention center). Laptop/Netbook/ Ipad are all up to you on what to bring you will have Wi-Fi in the convention center and in most hotels there is some sort of Wi-Fi or internet in the rooms for a fee.
Lots of debates on this, some suggest planning all your sessions out and all the events you plan to intend. I do my planning every morning at breakfast. I sit down with others at a table and ask them what they plan to attend and what they like. This gives me a chance to meet others and socialize, ultimately I still make the decision on what I want to attend but chatting with others gives me a perspective that I wouldn’t get sitting at home planning my schedule myself. I’ve done this for just about every summit I’ve attended.
For after-hours events I do plan this time out so I know where the major vendor and PASS events are located and the times. I also keep a close eye on twitter to find changes to events or where my friends will be at various times. You can find the PASS after hour’s page here. I would suggest putting these items on your calendar in your phone so you will have them all available to you. Contact any vendors you do business with at work as well and find out if they will have parties during the summit. Make sure to visit the expo hall and ask vendor’s about any parties they have planned they can get you an invite to the party during the evening. Personally I would not miss SQL Karaoke always a good time try and make it out if you have the chance!
Take a problem that you have at work and make a list of questions for the problem so that when you meet a MS employee/MVP/MCM/Fellow DBA you will have questions to ask and conversation with them. Remember what makes the PASS Summit a great event is the socializing aspect. You can learn so many things just being out in the hall with experts asking them questions. Don’t be afraid to approach someone and start a conversation, if you’re worried about meeting someone or coming out of your shell feel free to find me I’ll introduce you. :)
The Big Week
Here are some general tips during the week that will help you out.
- Have Fun!
- Register during an off time. If you come in Sunday afternoon register Sunday night it’s usually pretty dead. If you are attending a pre-con it’s not a bad idea to get to registration early as it can be busy. If you’re starting on Wednesday then try and register Tuesday night. Registration is open pretty late most days so take advantage of it.
- Get to your sessions early and don’t be afraid to sit up front. I find it’s the best spot for me to stay focused on the presentation and I can see well up front. On the opposite of this don’t be afraid to miss a session if you’re having a good conversation with others out in the hall. Remember if you’re getting your questions answered/solved and you’re learning something you’re succeeding at the summit.
- Talk to your neighbor/Socialize. Before the session gets started is a great time to chat with the person next to you and find out if they have enjoyed the summit. Perhaps they are someone who can help you with your problems at work. I started a conversation with 2 people years ago during a pre-con and they are now lifelong friends (2 of the best Db professionals around as well).
- Be courteous to your speakers put your cell phone on Vibrate. We understand you have to take calls and help your company be courteous of others and excuse yourself and take the call.
- Give honest feedback to the speakers good or bad. PASS values the feedback we give as attendees and I know the speakers value it even more. The only way to make a speaker better is to give them feedback. If you see a speaker in the hall later don’t be shy to say thank you and that you enjoyed the session. Speakers put a ton of time and effort into their presentations and hearing that feedback is great.
- Handout business cards and when you get business cards from others write a quick statement on them what you talked about on it. This will help you remember when you get back to the office who you spoke with and what topics you discussed.
For more resources on your first time check out the PASS Summit First timers page lots of good links in there about all sorts of information. You can find it here.
The most important things to remember about the summit are to never eat alone, have fun and learn something. If you do that you’ll have a great first time experience.