Big conferences like SQLBits can be intimidating, they can feel like you’re walking into a room of a thousand strangers all of whom have known each other for years. That at least was how my first SQLBits felt. I’d driven down to Telford early one Saturday morning and slipped into a session about five minutes after it had started, dropped in to a few more, awkwardly ate lunch in a corner, talked briefly to the one former colleague I recognised and then headed for home. It wasn’t terrible but equally I didn’t feel like I’d had the full SQLBits experience.
The year after I was attending for the full conference and determined to get the most out of it, I knew a few people from other events and had managed to secure the funding to bring along a few my team from work.
Keen to make an impact early we’d travelled into central London the day before the conference for a Q&A session with some of the Microsoft team. I figured now was the time to put on my best impersonation of a sociable individual and headed over to someone who occasionally dropped into the local user group who was chatting with an unfamiliar face in the corner.
Reaching a suitable pause, I mentioned that I was looking forwards to my training days, how exciting it was having face to face training with someone whose book had sat on my desk for the last year and enquiring of my acquaintance’s conversation partner (I’d failed to catch his name) which sessions he was booked in to. He politely let me know his name and explained he was leading one of the training days, mine in fact.
Chances are you won’t have to put your foot in it quite as far as I did to start up a conversation, but to make getting to know a few more people at SQLBits even easier this year they’ve introduced the Bits Buddies team and I’m one of them. We’ll be sporting the usual volunteer’s orange shirt but with an extra armband to show that we’re extra keen to have a chat, help find you a team for the Thursday night quiz or, point you towards others who are heading out in the evening for your food or drink of preference. Do say hello if you see us about between sessions or hanging out at the community corner. There are also online drop-in sessions planned for the next week if you have any questions beforehand.
You’re also welcome to get in touch with me in advance, you can find me at twitter or LinkedIn or keep an eye out for me in person in London. I’ll talk about pretty much anything if you’re after a conversation starter I’m a BI developer by trade with time working in the NHS, social care, and travel industries. Outside of work subjects that will likely spark a interest are films, running, living with young humans (3 & 9), comics, the joys and pains of adopting a child, board games and dad jokes.
If none of those are your thing, then pick another subject or alternatively there’s plenty more of us to choose from.