As lunch “how-to” guides go, this one is a bit different. Nothing here regarding which fork to use for each course, what to do with your napkin when you get up from the table, or how to create a distraction so that you can check if there’s spinach in your teeth by using your spoon as a mirror. No, none of that. Instead I’m going to share three simple things I wish I had done while attending last month’s SQLFriends Lunch.
But first, a bit of background. SQLFriends is a community event organized by Aaron Lowe (blog|twitter) with an emphasis on discussion and networking. The inaugural event was a lunch in downtown Chicago last month. You can read Aaron’s own review of how it went here and Bob Pusateri (blog|twitter) reported on his experience at the event here. It was a sold-out event, and from observing the buzz in the room it seems to have been a fantastic success.
I had a great time getting to meet some folks who aren’t able to make it to the evening downtown SQL Server User Group meetings, discussing SQL Server issues, asking questions, etc. Before I knew it the event was over and we were all heading our separate ways. I really like how Aaron measured the vibe in the room and saw that people were engaged, so he just let things happen rather than trying to follow a set agenda.
Still, I wondered what I could have done to personally get more out of the event. As I reflected on this, three things occurred to me.
- Bring a list of questions – This event’s registration form had a box for questions you’d like answered. However, I should have gone beyond that, printed out those questions and brought them to the event. Better yet, bring several copies of those questions so that I could have handed them out to folks at my table or even other tables. While we didn’t seem to run out of discussion topics, this would be a way to get things moving if there had been a stall, and it would be a great icebreaker for meeting new people.
- Business cards – Yes, this is obvious. However, it had been a busy morning and I dashed out for the event without stopping to take a quick inventory. Thus, I arrived at the event with just a few business cards in my pocket. For an event like this I should have been carrying more like 50 of them and made sure each attendee received at least one. This would have ensured that I met each person at the event. Which leads to the third item.
- Who’s got your back? – I was so focused on my own table that I didn’t know who was sitting directly behind me until the event was ending and people started getting up to leave. Even if it required obnoxiously pushing my chair back and standing up, at some point, perhaps between courses, I should have looked to see if there were familiar faces or new friends to make sitting behind me.
Now, in case you haven’t heard, registration is open for the next SQLFriends Lunch! Information is available here and this time it’s in Lombard instead of downtown. You can follow this event on twitter with the #sqlfriends hashtag. Also note that the upcoming SQLFriends Lunch is on Friday May 18, 2012, which is the day before Chicago’s SQLSaturday #119.
Do you have additional ideas on making the most of this event? If so then please feel free to add them to the comments below!