16 Jun 2010 SQL University – Community Service Week
Welcome to this week’s installment of SQL University. For this edition of I am going to focus on serving the SQL Community, but feel free to perform any acts of community service you desire (especially those that are court-ordered).
The first step you need to take is to be aware of the SQL Community. If you are reading this blog then chances are you already know the Community exists. However there remain a large number of database professionals that have no idea about the SQL Community. Believe it or not, there are people who have never heard of Paul Randal (blog | twitter), Buck Woody (blog | twitter), or Brent Ozar. And therein lies the biggest challenge I face daily as a member of the PASS Board of Directors: how do we reach those people that don’t know we exist?
But that’s my problem, not yours (although I welcome your help). Your issue here is to understand that the Community exists and that you can contribute to its success. You may not think you have anything to offer, but you would be wrong. Everyone has a unique experience and by sharing those unique experiences with others you will help make the Community stronger.
OK, so you know the Community exists, now what? Get involved! Participate in forums, either by asking questions or answering them. Attend local user group meetings or SQL Saturday events in your area. Sign up for free webcasts and seminars. Set aside some time each day or week to participate in a discussion. Back when I was first studying for my certification exams I would set aside an hour each day to do nothing but study. I would take on particular exam topic and go through forums looking for people that have posted questions regarding that same topic. Over time I was able to get a better understanding of the topic. It got to the point that I could ask good questions and even help answer some myself.
At this level you will be actively giving back to the community by communicating in ways other than just forums and newsgroups. Here you will be doing a good deal of writing, perhaps blogging or authoring articles. And then you will turn those articles into presentations for user groups, SQL Saturdays, or perhaps even the PASS conference.
But there is more to serving the Community than just writing and talking. You can also volunteer your time to help out a local user group, for example. Or maybe an upcoming SQL Saturday is looking for some volunteers. And let’s not forget that PASS is always looking for volunteers to help.
Here is where you will really have a chance to make a large impact for the SQL Community. This is where you will step up and volunteer your time as a leader. Perhaps it will be the leader of a local user group or PASS Chapter. It could also be as the leader of a PASS Virtual Chapter. Or you could find yourself serving PASS at the Board of Directors level (hey, it happens!)
You can find a lot of places for information on writing and presenting, but none of that matters unless you have a desire to participate. No one can make you want to participate; it is a choice you will need to make for yourself. I would just remind you to recall what it was like to be sitting in your cube, late at night, alone, and trying to solve some issue. In case you have forgotten what it felt like, I will tell you: it sucked.
The more you give back to the Community, the more you receive. You may still have late nights at work, but you will not feel alone.