SQL Community Speakers – Why We Do It


I started this post over a year ago and have just now come back around to finish it.  Over the years I have been asked about a few misconceptions about speakers for SQL Saturday’s.

Over the past several years as I have been involved with speaking and organizing SQL Saturday’s. Like many I love hanging out with the other speakers, catching up and meeting new people attending the event. There are few greater rewards than being able to share knowledge and empower others with what you know.

Over and over again I have either been asked or over heard individuals making comments about how much it must cost to cover the expenses of the speakers.  When I am asked or over hear these comments I quickly explain that most speakers are there as volunteers.

I explain that the majority of the speakers at SQL Saturday’s are there on their own dime. Regardless if they are local speakers, regional, or flew in from across the country most have paid their own way. There are the few exceptions with speakers that started working for the software companies but many of them are still volunteering their personal time because they love to pay it forward as well.

When you ask any speaker why they give up their weekend and dip into their families budget to come to these events to speak, you will get the same answer, “to pay it forward”. Every speaker I have spoken to comments on how much the SQL Community has helped their career. Getting involved to share their knowledge is their way of paying it forward and give back to the community.

That is how I got involved too.  I had attended two SQL Saturdays before attending Summit in 2010. (I actually learned about SQL Saturdays at Summit 2009) While attending Summit 2010 Jose Chinchilla (blog | twitter) convinced me to submit an abstract to SQL Saturday 62 in Tampa FL.  That is all it took for me.  I spoke at my first event, got positive feed back and helped several people in my session with real world issues.  It was such a rush.  I haven’t let up since then.  Check out my Community Page for details.

A few folks have mentioned that it must be a great way for consultants to pick up new clients.  Of course getting in front of people in your field demonstrating your subject matter expertise might be able to land you some new work, but ask any independent consultant who gets up their to speak why they do it.  They will tell you the same thing, to share knowledge and try to help as many people as they can.  I hear many of them all the time offer their email address, twitter handle, etc and say they are willing to help anyone.  The common saying is “I will answer any question and give guidance, if that question turns into several hours of help, then we are getting into billable time”.

Want proof of that, monitor the hashtag #sqlhelp on twitter and see the level of professionals help people out from all over the world.

What really impresses me about most of these consultants is that during there sessions, they never talk about their company other than their BIO slide.  What they do share are all their real world experiences.  Now that is valuable information.  If you are in need of some professional contracted help at work, who better than those who help make this community great.

When I saw the image above I couldn’t help but think about our SQL Community. We are in it for the outcome of our community.  A bigger and better community.

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7 Responses to SQL Community Speakers – Why We Do It

  1. James Thomas says:

    Very nice article. Always great to see people “Paying it Forward”.

  2. Daniel says:

    Well said my friend. I have walked away from every SQL Saturday with a new question to ask or a new concept to try out. It is the organizers, speakers and attendees that inspire me to become better than I am today. This translates into me paying it forward either at work, in the community or with up and coming IT professionals.

  3. Great post Tim. You have come a long way since our random conversation several years ago.

    I’m sure your experience will serve as inspiration for others to follow and become more active in the community and hopefully step-up and speak.

  4. Andy Warren says:

    Good stuff Tim. People are always amazed when I tell them most speakers are paying their own expenses and I agree with your assessment of why they do. It’s an amazing thing.


  5. Brent Ozar says:

    Good post! Totally agreed about the consulting thing – it’s really, really rare that I pick up business from a SQLSaturday or local user group. If I was doing that to make ends meet, I’d be eating ramen noodles. It’s just so much fun giving back!

  6. Steve Jones says:

    Great post Tim, and a wonderful image. Most of my expenses are covered, but I donate my time, sometimes to the dismay and annoyance of my wife. However she understands this is important to me.

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