Live in NH, Maine or Northern Mass?

I have been toying with the idea in the back of my head to get a user group setup for SQL Server folks a little closer to home. I love the New England SQL Server users group (NESQL) that Adam Machanic (twitter,blog) runs. I have been to several meetings and the speaker list blows you away. The quality is great and one of the sponsors has recently become a vendor at my company because of their sponsorship (they have a product that fits and exact need at my full time job and they were sponsoring on a night when I was dealing with trouble with that area… had them come up to do a demo and we were hooked, working out great.. see sponsorship does work both ways…  I am sure our account covered their pizza costs and them some.. but I digress, surprised?) and the availability of Microsoft folks is handy.

It’s just a 1.5 hour drive from work and then a 1.75 hour drive home with no traffic. So, I have been thinking of trying to get something going to augment those meetings up this way. Perhaps alternate meetings between Portsmouth, NH and Portland, ME each month.

Please comment below if you live in the Seacoast of NH, ME, northern MA (Peabody North on 95, northern end of 495.. Looking to meet in Portsmouth, NH) and you would be interested in attending, speaking or helping run a users group. I am putting this feeler out to see what kind of interest there is.

A few more thoughts to chew on:

Not Competition

There is NESQL in Waltham that meets regularly. There is the NH SQL Server Users group in Nashua that also meets regularly. I am not looking to compete with these events and will do whatever is in my power to not schedule conflicts. I will still likely go to a fair amount of the NESQL meetings and want you to have the ability to also.

If the community up this way between the Portsmouth, Concord, perhaps Manchester, Newburyport/Peabody/etc in MA is large enough to get meetings together, then I think doing this is a no-brainer. The drive from Portland to Waltham or Nashua is brutal on a Thursday night.

If it becomes too much or a competition point, I just don’t want to do it. Why disrupt things at a great, active local user community?

Inspiration

I have been thinking of this for awhile but simply thinking of it. Never acting. Some talks with Andy Leonard (Twitter, Blog) had me thinking. Then seeing his presentation at the SQL PASS Conference on user groups and how he successfully setup and runs several user groups in his area (web) had me thinking, I can do this. I asked a question about distance in the class, my paranoia and fear is disrupting a great community and the consensus in the room seemed to indicate the location spread is far more than enough to think about another user group. Thanks, Andy, for the pep talk.

I’m not going to do this by myself

I know a few other active SQL Serverites in the area and I will be reaching out to them. I also know of a great consulting firm in the area I have done some side work for. I may reach out to them about some help/advice/sponsorship. I don’t want to make this a “Mike Walsh Users Group”, in fact I just bought a domain for “SeacoastSQL” (.com/.org).. I want this to be about a community of SQL Server users growing together, helping new users, nurturing new speakers (which I hope to become in 2010) and helping local companies by improving the quality of the SQL Server workforce.

As such, I don’t want to formulate a group around me and on my own. I would like to look at setting up a business entity of some sort with a small board and have a passionate community help grow it. If it is grown by more than one person some event in my life or career won’t kill the entire initiative.

Send a comment here, send me a note from the contact us page and let me know if you want to help out.

Balance Speakers

I want to get some good speakers come up here. That means we need to have a budget for it and I am prepared to reach out to sponsors once we form the right entity, or perhaps as we form the right entity. I want experienced folks who have spoken, wrote books, and know their stuff.

I also want to encourage folks who are thinking about speaking but too afraid to submit an abstract to get up and speak. The audiences at these user groups range in experience and even a guru should be watching a presentation to see what new approach or insight they can glean. I want you to speak. If you live in the area and have been doing something with SQL then you probably have a topic to talk about. Let me know.

When?

I am a busy guy. The when depends on who helps me, what kind of experience we have finding sponsors, becoming affiliated with a Microsoft and/or PASS type of organization and what sort of speaking schedule we can get. It also depends on what kind of feedback I get from friends, colleagues and their networks. I am hoping sometime in 2010, Q1/Q2.

That’s it. Consider this your early warning and a request for a quick bit of feedback (can’t do polls with this blogging setup, at least I haven’t yet figured it out) in e-mail, comments or on twitter (mike_walsh). If the interest dies down, the group dies down. If there is enough interest (at least ~10/12 people to start talking) then this will get off the ground.

I hope to hear from you and in the meantime, if you want to carpool down to Waltham’s meetings each month (second Thursday of each month) from Portsmouth or a park and ride between Portsmouth and Waltham. Let me know. I would love to help someone get down to a meeting that has never been. You get a LOT and it’s free (even get pizza 😉 )

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