PASS Summit 2013: Quick Networking Tips for Introverts #4

Remembering a Name

Without a doubt, probably the hardest thing to do when you meet someone new is to remember their name. Fortunately, at PASS Summit, everyone is wearing a name badge which makes it a lot easier. However, what happens when you go out in the evening and start meeting new people? How do you remember their names? At some point, just calling someone ‘Hey you’ or ‘Buddy’ isn’t going to fly. There are a few tricks that we can all try to help us remember names. Here are a few:

  • Relate the Person to Someone in your Past – This seems to be one of the most common ways to remember a name. When some one tells you their name, you think of someone in your past with the same name and try to relate the two people. For instance, the first time I met Dan Hess (t|b), he reminded me of a friend in high school named Dan. Both were big, tall guys and a little goofy at the same time.
  • Associate the Name with a Rhyme, Object or Physical Feature – This is another fairly common way to remember a name. For instance, say you just meet someone named Mike. In your head (not out loud if you can help it), you could think Mike n’ Ike or Mike Bike. Maybe the person has a certain feature that stands out like a comb-over or a bald head. You can relate that person to their physical feature to help remember a name. My name is rather easy to rhyme and I usually works well.
  • Repeat the Name – When someone introduces themselves, use their name in a sentence. “Nice to meet you Tom!” or “Hi Tom, my name is Mitch”. You can also repeat the name in your head 3-5 times to try to help it sink in. Repetition is always helpful.
  • Ask them to Repeat their Name – Don’t be afraid to ask someone to repeat their name. Keep in mind that there will be a lot of background noise at pass and it can sometimes be hard to hear. At the end of a conversation, there is no harm in asking someone for their name again. If nothing else, it will be fresh in your head again.
  • Have a Wingman – Having a wingman is not just for the bar scenes anymore. If you see someone who you met the day before, but can’t remember their name, send someone to go meet them and hope they can remember the name for you. You can also introduce your wingman to the person whose name you forgot with the hopes that they will give their name in return.

Practice now so it will be second nature when you need it.

See you all at PASS Summit!

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PASS Summit 2013: Quick Networking Tips for Introverts #3

Eye Contact

When I used to get in trouble as a kid, which was fairly often, I remember my dad always lecturing me and telling me to look him in the eyes when he is talking to me. It is still very vivid in my memory so much that I now do the same thing to my kids when they get in trouble. Looking back at that, I realize that he was doing that for a reason and in turn, teaching me a very real life lesson. In my opinion, eye contact is the most important part of any conversation, whether you are in trouble or just conversing with someone. When a person is talking to you and you keep that eye contact, it is reassuring to the other person that you are genuinely interested in what they are saying, no matter how boring it may be.

I know people who have a real hard time keeping eye contact while having a conversationEyeContact and it makes it very difficult to communicate with them. I find that this is more common with IT geeks that I know. Not to stereotype, well maybe a little, but IT geeks genuinely sit and stare at a screen all day, communicate via IM, Facebook and Twitter and do not always get up and make an effort to talk to others. With only a week until PASS Summit, try to make the effort to get out and talk to people. Start practicing the firm handshake and making eye contact. It really isn’t hard to do once you try. Get the jitters out now so come Summit time you will be on your A-Game!

SEE you at summit!

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PASS Summit 2013: Quick Networking Tips for Introverts #2

Your Posture

Posture is very important when it comes to networking and meeting new people. The way you stand and how you hold your arms can send very different messages to people. The key to meeting new people is to make your self approachable. It is just that simple. If you don’t think posture is important in meeting new people, then look at the pictures below. Which person looks more approachable?

Posture

This is the same person, yet based on the ‘vibe’ they give off, the one on the right seems much more approachable and open to conversation. I mean, when they used to mummify people, they used to cross their arms for a reason, they didn’t want to be bothered. This is the same for people who are still living. If their arms are folded, they typically are not looking for conversation. It is a bad vibe to give off especially at a conference like the PASS Summit where people are all they for the same reason; to learn and meet people with the same interests.

The key takeaway here, concentrate on NOT folding your arms. Keep an open posture. If you find this difficult, then put your hands in your pockets or behind your back. If you are still having problems with it, grab a drink and hold it in your hand, this will make it much harder to fold your arms. It is difficult at first, but it pays in dividends once you can master it.

See you at Summit 2013!

**yes, I am an A’s fan.

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PASS Summit 2013: Quick Networking Tips for Introverts #1

The HandshakeDeadFish_Handshake

The handshake is very important. It is the first step in meeting someone and as we all know, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. You can generally tell a lot about a person from the way they shake your hand. We have all been there before, the awkward handshake. Whether it was the dead fish in your hand, the fingertip grab or the over shoot, they all have a certain sense of weirdness. A weak handshake is showing a certain lack of confidence or nervousness. A good, strong handshake shows a genuine interest in meeting someone.

There is one very easy tip to help you have that strong, good grip handshake that make people realize you mean business. I have used these in the past and they have helped me a lot.

Look at the hand that you are about to shake  Most people focus on the person and not the hand. You must respect the hand. You only get one shot at shaking it and the rest of the conversation to focus on the person. When you come in for a hand focus on the webbing between the thumb and the pointer finger. You should get the webbing of your hand to meet theirs. Yes, this does sound corny, but it works. Once you get that webbing, take a firm grasp of their hand. This almost always assures a good tight handshake. Keep in mind that you are not trying to break the other persons hand and it is not a contest to see who can squeeze the hardest.

I will guarantee you that it will be awkward at first to look at someone’s hand during a handshake, but you will get over it. A moment of awkwardness is way better that delivering a dead-fish handshake onto someone you are trying to impress. Who know, it could be your next boss…

I have to give credit to Don Gabor (LinkedIn|Blog) for his handshaking recommendations. I had the privilege of attending one of his networking sessions and learned a ton. If you have the chance, definitely look him up and connect with him on LinkedIn.

If you see me at PASS Summit 2013 in Charlotte, come shake my hand and introduce yourself!

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Monitoring and Alerting for DDL Changes

Recently, I had a client that wanted to be alerted whenever a new database was created or dropped on a specific SQL instance. I thought, no problem, I will just create a trigger to fire off and use DBmail to send the alert. It was actually quite easy to get it built, but I must admit, it took me a few minutes to find out where I created the trigger.  Not everyone has created a server level DDL trigger; in fact, a lot of people have never even created a trigger before. So I thought maybe others might want to play with them too…

First step was to make sure DBmail was set up on my instance in question. You can follow the documentation on how to do that here. Once your DBmail is set up, it was as simple as writing a typical trigger with the exception of one small statement, ‘ON ALL SERVER’.

USE master
GO

CREATE TRIGGER [trig_DDL_Alert] ON ALL SERVER
FOR CREATE_DATABASE, DROP_DATABASE
AS
declare @DatabaseName VARCHAR(255)
declare @msgSubj varchar(max)
declare @msgTxt varchar(max)

SET @DatabaseName = (SELECT EVENTDATA().value(‘(/EVENT_INSTANCE/DatabaseName)[1]’, ‘VARCHAR(255)’))
SET @msgSubj = ‘DDL Update on ‘ + @@SERVERNAME + ‘ by ‘ + SUSER_SNAME()
SET @msgTxt =
(SELECT EVENTDATA().value(‘(/EVENT_INSTANCE/TSQLCommand/CommandText)[1]’,’nvarchar(max)’))
EXEC msdb.dbo.sp_send_dbmail
@profile_name = ‘ @recipients = ”,
@body = @msgTxt,
@subject = @msgSubj
GO

ENABLE TRIGGER trig_DDL_Alert ON ALL SERVER
GO

It is important that you enable the trigger. Otherwise all you have done is created a trigger, but it will not fire off. Once you create and enable this trigger, you can try to create and drop a database to see what happens. You should get a few emails that look similar to the following.

email2Email1

Now, say you want to alter this trigger. You remember creating it in the Master DB, but you can’t seem to find it. A simple query will get you the info you need.

SELECT * FROM sys.server_triggers

You can also find all the server level triggers in SSMS by looking in the Server Objects > Triggers Folder on the Instance level.

There is plenty of DDL events that you can place triggers on. In case you wanted to monitor what your developers are creating on a sandbox server, you could set up triggers to alert in the creations for views, procedures and a lot of other items. You can see them all here.

Hopefully this helps you.

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SQL Saturday 222 – Change is Good!

Banner

It has been about a month since SQL Saturday #222 here in Sacramento, CA and I realized that I had not posted a blog about it yet. I chalk it up as a hangover to the whole event. I am not even sure where to start with this event. We had a wonderful group of event planners comprised of mostly of our local user group board. Everyone worked very hard to make the event the success it was. Yes, our attendance was a little low, but the sessions and people who attended were treated to an overall great day filled with a ton of awesome sessions and networking with the community.

Like with any other event, with the good, comes the bad. All in all, we had way more good than bad at this event and a few lessons learned. The most important thing was that we learned from our experiences and mistakes from last year.

What we Changed:

SQLSat222 Precon – We added a Precon this year…Wow! I think that pretty much sums up the whole training from Kalen Delaney (b|t) on the day before the SQL Saturday. We had a class of close to 50 attendees. All walked away with nothing but great things to say about Kalen’s class and what she covered in it. The whole event took place at the same venue as our SQL Saturday. The facility took care of setting everything up and the whole event went very smoothly. We are already looking forward to next year’s event!Wine

Speaker Gifts – Last year we gave everyone personalized cowbells. They were a huge hit and we had a hard time thinking of something to top it. Being that we had several return speakers this year, we didn’t want to do the same thing again. As a thank you to all the speakers, we decided to get a bottle of ‘somewhat’ local wine for everyone.   As it turns out, the winery name is “Query”. We also got custom-made labels for the wine, so you can drink your Query and show it off too! It will make a great  paper-weight for the office desk.

Venue – This year we changed our venue from a stuffy hotel lobby to a corporate meeting center. The facility was already equipped with everything we needed. Overhead projectors, free wifi, drop down screens, break rooms, plenty of parking and security for all the over-caffeinated geeks. The facility was fantastic and we couldn’t be more thankful for Sutter Health and the Patrick Hays Learning Center for letting us use their facility. Did I mention it was FREE…BOOM goes the dynamite!

Scheduling – Last year, we tried to create a schedule with specified tracks such as Development, BI, DBA, etc. It made it really difficult to organize and accommodate speakers travel plans at the same time. This year, we opted to simplify the schedule. We had 5 tracks with 6 sessions in each. This really made the last-minute changes a breeze. This also forced people out of their seats and into the hallways where they can talk, network and meet the sponsors. It was a win-win all around.

Guidebook – We cannot thank PASS enough for making the guidebook set up so darn easy. Last year we tried to set up a Guidebook for SQL Saturday and it became more of a hassle that we anticipated. Now, with a few clicks, you can get the Guidebook posted. We pushed all of the attendee’s hard to use the guidebook for the most up to date scheduling. We encountered a few last-minute issues with speaker’s schedules and using Guidebook made the updates really easy. If you have a SQL Saturday coming up, the guidebook is a must!

Event Guides – Last year we had a VERY extensive event guide that had full, half and quarter page advertisements from our vendors. Granted the event guides turned out to be awesome, they were also expensive and royal pain to put together. That is what led us to the simple design of the schedule and a special thanks to all the sponsors. Our costs were low, creations was easy and they still looked great

Platinum Sponsorship Bonus – This year, as an added incentive for our Platinum Sponsors, we allowed them to have a room named after them. This seemed to go over well as people were referring to the rooms as the Quest room, Red Gate room, SIOS room and the Nimble Storage room. We felt that this was a big added bonus and better than advertisements in the event guide. The sponsors seemed to agree!

Lunch Fee – This was good and maybe a little bad. We hate to charge for a lunch for a free event, but after paying for an extra 130 lunches last year for people who didn’t show up, we figured this was going to give us a little more realistic number since people actually had some ‘skin’ in the game for lack of a better term. All in all, we only had a dozen or so lunches left and the security guard went home very happy.

Volunteer Shirts – We upped the ante this year by getting better speaker shirts and volunteer shirts. While the nice sporty, collared speaker shirts were nice, the volunteer shirts are what took the prize! Sand colored shirts with a camouflage PASS logo. We had attendees’ asking if they could purchase the shirts! I think we found the new Sacramento SQL Saturday logo for years to come.

image7image

What we didn’t Change:

Speaker Dinner – Just like last year, we opted to have our speaker dinner at one of our local user group members’ home. I honestly think this is the best venue for an event like this. It is a very informal environment that allows all of us to mingle with more than just the 3 or 4 people sitting next to you at a restaurant. We BBQ’d rib-eyes, popped some wine bottles, tapped a keg and lit a few cigars. I am pretty sure everyone had a great time…from what we all remember. HUGE thanks to Tina Nguyen for hosting!

What we wished we could Change:

Sacramento Temperature – We did crank up the A/C in the building, but    , the lobby and foyer area did get hot. Unfortunately, it is Sacramento in July and we expect temperatures close to 100 degrees. We tried to remedy the situation with fans and we will have to revisit this again for next year for our lessons learned.

Additional Thoughts:

The hardest thing about being a SQL Saturday organizer is finding the time to relax and sit through an entire session. I felt like there was always something that needed to be done or attended to. I will say that we have an awesome group of volunteers here in Sacramento. On the day of the event, they came out of every corner to help make the event successful and I am very thankful to all of them! Would I head up the team again for a SQL Saturday? Probably. Nah, most definitely.

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Mitch’s Quick Tips – #5 – Easily Copy Table Columns to a Query

I was just helping someone at their desk with writing a query and showed them a trick that blew their mind… At that moment, it donned on me that I too was blown away when I was shown it. So, I figured it would be a great quick and easy tip to add to my blog.

We have all been there before where we are writing a query or Stored Procedure and need to pull all of the columns from a table into a query but always thought it was a huge hassle. Either we had to script out the table and copy them or manually type them all out or drag them all out, one by one. It was a total pain and very time-consuming. Well, have you ever thought about clicking and dragging the columns into a query analyzer screen?

ColumnClicknDrag

Yup, it is that easy and a big time saver…

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