It’s TSQL Tuesday again! This month our host is Riley Major (b/t) and the subject is Giving Back. He’s given us two options here (as well as the side option of your favorite 2017 improvement). Pick a way that you’d like to give back to the community and talk about it, or if you already give back, tell us how and why you started.
There will be a lot of excellent posts on this subject and one of the things that I like is that you can go to http://tsqltuesday.com and look up all of the entries which means that for a particular topic you can find a bunch of blog posts from different angles (I miss-typed that as angels first and yes they are all angels!) whether it is career improvement or technical like say Extended Events it is all there waiting for you 🙂
I wrote about giving back in 2014 when I was about to help organise SQL Saturday Exeter for the first time. Last year I blogged about a few of the wonderful people who made a difference to me. So this post is a little about how I give back and also hopefully some hints that can help you to do the same as well.
There are so many ways that you can give back to the community as Riley’s post shows.
Sharing your knowledge is a good way. I share my knowledge in blog posts and in sessions at user groups and at conferences. You can too.
From beginner, introductory posts and talks to expert level deep dives every single one of us has learned from the blog posts that other people have spent their time and effort creating.
YOU can share your knowledge, even if you have only been using a technology for a few months, you have knowledge of the things you have learned and the things that would have made it easier. Write a post about those things.
Answering questions is another way. You can do this on Stack Overflow, SQL Server Central, PowerShell.Org , Reddit, Facebook , on Twitter using the #sqlhelp or #PowerShellHelp or just in person. I try to answer questions when I see them on twitter or in the SQL Community Slack
Mentoring or just providing feedback to people. You can offer to proof read blog posts or abstract submissions or you can listen to peoples presentations. I do this and it is a lot of fun
I also share my knowledge via my GitHub. All of my presentations slides and code are available as well as other code that I use. I also contribute to open-source projects such as dbatools and dbachecks. You can do this too. You could open an issue for an improvement or bug. You can contribute your code, even if you are not confident writing the code you can fix spelling mistakes or add documentation., everything helps
You can help with organisation of events. I have helped to organise the PowerShell Europe Conference, PSDay.UK, SQL Saturday Exeter, SQL SouthWest user group, PASS PowerShell Virtual Group. I have also helped with session choices for a number of other events like SQL Grillen and SQLGLA and I have volunteered at many events from SQL Saturdays to SQL Bits. Everything from setting up and tearing down (IE moving heavy things and cleaning up rubbish) to sitting on the information desk, giving out badges, making sure the speakers are on time in their sessions. You can do this too. Just ask the organisers of the events what they need. It is better to do this prior to the event than on the day but I am sure all help is welcomed. Richard Munn and I talked (waffled?) about this at SQL Bits this year
If you would like to be considered as a volunteer for next years SQL Bits please email helpers at sqlbits.com
So why did I start giving back?
I wanted to be useful. I saw the amount of work that Jonathan and Annette were doing organising SQL Saturday Exeter and SQL South West. I hoped that I could help them with that.
Why do I carry on doing it?
Because it is fun 🙂 I enjoy speaking, I enjoy sharing my knowledge and talking to people
That is good but there is more to it as well
You learn so much by writing a presentation or a blog post because you will do research.
You will learn even more when people ask you questions in your sessions or leave comments on your blog posts and you have to go and find the answers
You learn new and useful skills and demonstrate your knowledge to potential employers
My blog is a scrapbook of knowledge that I go back to and use all the time (and sometimes I forget that I have written something and find my own post in the search results!)
But the most important reason is that I feel that it pays back some of the benefit that I have gained from all of those people who’s time and effort I made use of for free when I was learning and continue to do so to this day. All of those blog posts and videos and presentations that I consumed have helped to make me the technician I am today. I have skills and abilities that I would not have without them all and by giving back I hope that I am enabling others to develop and see the benefit of sharing so that they will continue to do so in the future and I can learn from them.