PASS Summit 2016 is fast approaching. If you’re going, time to start making plans. If you’re not going, sell your boss on the idea and get registered. It’s only the largest Microsoft Data Platform event on the planet. There are over 200 sessions given by some of the most knowledgeable people you’ll ever get the chance to learn from. The schedule is posted, just look it over. However, I want to drill down on another aspect of the event that it’s way too easy to miss out on, networking.
Lots of people miss this aspect of events like the PASS Summit. I know I used to. I went to all kinds of IT events over the years, but all I ever did was attend the sessions. I didn’t spend any time at all attempting to meet people. Frankly, if you’re an introvert, as I am, that can be hard (and yes, I really am, I’ve been tested). Even if you work up the nerve to walk up to your favorite author/blogger/speaker and say “Man, I love your stuff” or “I have a question,” you still haven’t actually made contact, you haven’t started to network. In order to start networking, you have to start making a connection to people, and that means engaging.
Why build your network?
That’s easy. Because you’re only as good as your network. I don’t care how smart you are as an individual, you can’t know everything. You’re going to have gaps in your knowledge. Your network is there, in part, to help fill those gaps. You want to make a direct connection to people so that they remember who you are, what you do and what you know. After talking for a while, you’ll get a sense of what people can do. If you get stuck on a networking issue, you might send your new friend an email because they were talking about all the networking stuff they do. Your network expands your skill set. Your network expands your knowledge base. Your network expands your worth.
The amazing thing about the PASS Summit is the unique opportunity it presents for networking. Umpty-thousand of your peers all in one place, geared up & ready to connect, share & learn (heard that somewhere, it sounded good). Add to that the horde of Microsoft engineers that are going to be there (and yeah, you want to network with the Microsoft people too). You won’t get as unique an opportunity any where else.
Your Networking Assignment
You have and assignment. We. We have an assignment.
We’re not going back to our hotel at the end of the last session. If we’re a first-timer, attend the events that are set aside just for us. We’re going to go to the social events. We’re going to chat with people. Pull right up to a table where people are shoveling food into their face and say “Hey! My name is <insert your name here>. I’m a <insert your job description here>. What do you do?” Substitute your name and job description in the appropriate places. Next, ask this person if there is a session or a speaker they’re excited about. Finally, ask them if they’re going to the keynote. The reason we’re asking all these questions is because people actually love to talk about themselves. It’s a great ice breaker. If you find that you hit it off, arrange to meet at a session or lunch. If not, no big deal.
We’re going to do this at least three times over the week. I promise you, when we leave Summit at the end of the week, we’ll have at least one, real, contact. That’s how we get our network going, direct engagement.
It’s not too late to register. Get it done. Just plan on spending some time talking to people. If no one else, please, track me down and say hello.