SQLSaturday Goes International

Looking at 2011 and the planned events so far for 2012 it’s easy to see that SQLSaturday is starting to catch on in many places beyond the US, including Brazil that I mentioned in a post yesterday. Have you thought about what means? Why is it happening now? What would you say if I told you that there are early discussions in progress about having them in Turkey, Russia, and China?

Some of that is just the slow viral spread of SQLSaturday. Tim Mitchell attended #3 in Jacksonville, time goes by, SQLSaturday happens in his home town of Dallas. Kristin Ferrier attends Dallas and soon we have one in Oklahoma City. It’s been slow at times, but effective, and huge fun to watch.  Of course you don’t have to attend to catch the bug. SQLSaturday is a frequent topic on Twitter and in blog posts, it’s hard to follow the SQL world and not see the interest around the events.

All of that has been ‘as it happens’ growth. Over the past 4 years we have recruited lightly, but now we have Karla Landrum and a focus for PASS on international growth. Because Karla works on both SQLSaturday and PASS chapters as an evangelist that ‘when are you going to have a SQLSaturday’ conversation happens a lot more now. People like to be asked, and it’s hard to dismiss Karla – not because she is pushy, but because she is just so openly enthusiastic!

All of that together means that we’re growing faster internationally. For too long PASS (and SQLSaturday) have been US centric. It’s not that we’ve magically changed that,but we’ve started to actively engage outside the US and engagement matters. Relationships matter. Understanding the state of the SQL community in each country/area matters. More pragmatically,we’re growing people in new places. New speakers, new thought leaders.

As my friend Steve Jones and I have talked about this one of the things we think about is the impact on US speakers. Not a negative, we think that we’ll see speakers start to plan vacations & family trips around these international events. It’s what we talk about! The travel time and cost is an issue, but a chance to see a new place or two and lend support to these newer events is…interesting and amazing. Look at the calendar of past events and future reserved dates, isn’t there at least one place outside the US you would like to go?

It’s slow and subtle growth, and I think that works best, is most likely to be sustainable.