Having been to and spoken at a few SharePoint Saturday events over the last couple years, it’s inevitable that I get asked by an attendee at every event why we go out of our way to participate in these events. What, the speakers aren’t paid? You guys come out here on your own dime? While it’s true that speakers (and volunteers) aren’t compensated in a monetary fashion, that’s not to say that we don’t get value from attending these events.
Knowledge is Everywhere
People come to SharePoint Saturday to learn–this is true, whether you’re an attendee or a speaker. As an attendee, you learn by attending our sessions. Speakers learn through attending sessions, but also through the chatter in the speaker room at the venue, and the discussions that popup at the speaker dinner or the hotel. There has yet to be a SharePoint Saturday that I haven’t learned something from, and I doubt that’ll change any time soon.
Networking is Power
The biggest factor (at least for me) is the networking. Granted, SharePoint Saturday events largely pull from the same pool of speakers, but there’s always people I haven’t met. I personally feel that network has more value than anything. When you’re off working on your own project and find yourself in a bind, you now know two, three, or four people that you could email or tweet for guidance. Along the same lines is the ability to meet people face-to-face that you normally only exchange electronic communication with. I first talked with Mike Oryszak (@next_connect), Marc Anderson (@sympmarc), and Christina Wheeler (@cwheeler76) for about a year before I ever met them in person at my first SharePoint Saturday (Washington DC, 2010). So far in 2012 alone, I’ve put many faces to names, including Jeremy Thake (@jthake), Tom Resing (@resing), Jim Bob Howard (@jbhoward), Matt Bramer (@iOnline247), Cornelius van Dyk (@cjvandyk), Liam Cleary (@helloitsliam), Jason Himmelstein (@sharepointlhorn), and many, many more. From a speaker’s perspective, chatting, and bouncing ideas off of other speakers is a huge perk.
OK, it may sound corny, and I’m an adult (despite the jokes in the halls about me being young), but SharePoint Saturday’s are fun. The speaker dinner at SharePoint Saturday Richmond was at Dave & Busters, the speaker dinner for SharePoint Saturday Austin was at The Salt Lick (and the rumors are true… they apply BBQ sauce to meat with a mop and a giant bucket)–what could be better than sitting around a table with 10 well-respected peers chowing down on some brisket.
Find an Event Near You
SharePoint Saturday is still growing, and events happen all over the world. Just head over to SharePointSaturday.org and find an event near you. If you’re a new speaker (or have never spoken before) with something to share, SharePoint Saturday’s are great, low-pressure events to hone that skill and develop yourself personally, as well as professionally.