(This post was written primarily whilst travelling back from SQLRally and subsequently edited, amended and added to where necessary before publishing)
I’m currently sat here at Orlando Airport and I am able to reflect a little bit whilst waiting to board my plane back to the U.K. after having spent the last 5 days of preparation, learning and socialising at SQLRally and I need to ask myself “was it worth the expense?”. I’m not too sure how many attendees or indeed speakers were from Europe but I am pretty sure I was one of a very small number and therefore the cost to myself was indeed far more than it would have cost for the majority of the attendees. It is therefore important that I look at the return on investment of not just my attending the event, but also of me speaking. One key thing to remember about going to conferences, is that the knowledge retained is usually very little of what you have actually heard but hopefully with the efforts of the presenters, the materials provided will help to reinforce the important parts of this knowledge. It is true that I went to some excellent presentations but was sadly unable to attend many of them due to the amount of work I felt I needed to do on the preparation of my own session since I was really not quite happy where I was at. This particular point is a key take home for me, and I *must* now ensure that I am far more prepared going forward. Unfortunately due to working commitments, family and other events it is sometimes easier said than done.
So learning for me in terms of sessions was restricted, but I have to admit to learning lots of new stuff towards my “prep” although most of this material was unfortunately not used but *will* hopefully be mentally retained. Strictly speaking, from a knowledge perspective, the biggest benefit to myself was understanding some key areas that I need to learn more about, and knowing this about yourself is fantastic value in itself -as long as I can go on to do something about it. From a socialising perspective I again missed out on all of the outside events in the evenings again purely down to the fact I needed to work! From a financial angle I have paid out what has come to a rather large bill, not helped by the fact that I thought I wouldn’t need a hire car and ended up seemingly living in a Taxi …and they really weren’t that cheap 😦 .
So if you are reading this, you really must by now be wondering what on earth was the REAL value of attending SQLRally for me and I can tell you straight away without any hesitation …PEOPLE. Usually during events (if you are lucky) you will meet one or more people who from that point you will remain friendly and supportive with for your dying days in IT. If you are lucky to do this then now try and think of a value you would place on that kind of support network.
Sometimes of course you might just meet someone in passing and it is really at the next event that you cement this friendship, but the point therefore is that you really don’t know when something is going to happen. Considering the fact that I have been restricted this time from a socialising perspective, I have really been very lucky in that I have helped to nurture several relationships that I hope over time they can be mutually beneficial from not just a social level but also from a technical level.
So I ask myself again for one last time, “SQLRally…was it REALLY worth it?” and the answer is a resounding “OH YEAH!”