Twitter: The Next Best Thing To Being There

Why do DBAs want to go to PASS, TechEd, or SQLConnections? If asked, I suppose that many would point to the great technical content that’s available there. Others, when out of earshot from their employers, may admit to going solely to visit the city in which the event is held. As for me, I’ve known for years that the number one reason I go to a conference is the people.

It’s A Small World After All

The SQL Server Community is a close-knit community. It’s not small mind you; there are hundreds of thousands of SQL Server professionals from around the globe. But still, it’s close-knit. People in the community know and regularly exchange emails with others in the SQL Community from all over creation. We don’t get to see each other often, but we’re still close.

Conferences are one place where we do get to see each other. When I’m attending a conference, I love catching up with members of the SQL Community. I would gladly forego many a technical sessions – as good as they are – to sit and have coffee with a friend from another part of the world. To me, that’s what makes a conference great, it’s the people who are there.

You Can Be In Two Places At Once

But alas, sometimes you simply cannot make it to a conference. You can only travel so much, you can only afford a certain number of trips out if the office, or other obligations get in the way. That doesn’t mean you have to completely miss out on the event. You can still be there from the comforts of your own home or office through the wonder of Twitter.

This past weekend at SQLSaturday #51 in Nashville, I monitored the #sqlsat51 hash tag on Twitter. There were lots of tweets from attendees throughout the day. Some asked questions, others made jokes, and others still shared what was taking place. Tweets made the day even more enjoyable.

A nice byproduct of event tweeting is that they open up the event to others who couldn’t be on-site. Twitter allows people who couldn’t make it to the event to still participate, to still interact, and to still network with those at the event. From afar, friends can crack jokes, ask questions, and add to the conversation.

Is it really as good as being there? No, but it sure beats missing it altogether.

Twitter can also be leveraged by the speakers to extend their reach and include an even wider audience. I first saw this at PASS last year when Paul Randal tweeted during Kim Tripp’s pre-con. He tweeted major bullet points and answered questions in the Twitterverse. Very cool! I know Brent Ozar has done similar things. I’ve used a plug in to PowerPoint that will automatically send tweets as I progress through my slide deck.

How Do I Get Started?

If you’re not familiar with Twitter, it’s free. Just go to the Twitter site and sign up. Then download Brent Ozar’s short ebook and read it in one sitting. It’ll give you the information you need to know to get started.

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18 Responses to Twitter: The Next Best Thing To Being There

  1. Brent Ozar says:

    Nice post! What I really like about Twitter is that it gives me a chance to get to know people before I meet ‘em in person at the conferences, so we’re already like old friends when we finally get to the conference. It’s such an icebreaker.

    • Joe says:

      Great point; following someone on Twitter beforehand can make the conferences even more about coming together as a community.

  2. Jim Moss says:

    Great title photo

    • Joe says:

      Yeah, I really liked that photo. I can’t take credit for it though. Louis Davidson’s (@drsql) wife took the pictures at SQLSaturday #51.

  3. Not only is it a great way to get to know people in advance of a conference as you and Brett point out, but it also makes it easy to stay in touch with people you meet at the conference so you don’t spend all your time there catching up on the prior year. I also love how the SQL Server community has really come together with Twitter.

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  5. Ron Dameron says:

    Joe,

    Twitter was the next best thing to going to PASS SUMMIT in 2009. The attendees did a great job covering the event. Following the Twitter stream and buying the DVDs were the best consolation prizes to not attending. I’ll be there in 2010, woohoo!

  6. trying to follow you on twitter but cant find your name

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