We have a solid tradition here in Orlando of offering some all day classes the Thursday and Friday before SQLSaturday. It started way back at #1 when we brought Joe Celko to town! It’s a way to give our local community the chance to do some deeper learning at a relatively inexpensive price – $120 and that includes lunch. We try to mix up the topics and speakers so that different interest areas get highlighted. This year we’ve got Allan Hirt presenting Planning Highly Available SQL Server Deployments in a Cloudy, Virtualized World and Patrick Leblanc presenting Power BI Hands-on Lab. Sign up for both and you get a $20 discount ($220 total for both).
For those that might wonder, we set the price as low as we can and still make it work. We guarantee basic travel expenses for the speaker, we make sure all the attendees get a good lunch, and we split any profit with the speaker 50/50. That makes it zero money risk for the speaker, just their time. We don’t pick topics based solely on profitability. It’s nice to do better than break-even (and usually we do), but we care more about the variety of topic than we do profit. It does mean that we (oPASS & MagicPASS) take on the risk of the travel/room/misc expenses. That’s not a bad thing. Chapters need to keep some cash on hand to allow taking small risks here and there. A big part of what makes it work is that we can co-market it with SQLSaturday. Of the dozen or so messages we’ll send out about SQLSatuday this year every one will have a side bar that mentions the seminars (and one or two will focus on the seminars with SQLSaturday in the side bar).
If you want to go, start by asking the boss. Make it as serious request – here is the class, here is the cost, I’d like to go, can the company pay for it? Think about it, it’s $120. Not budget busting. Not using PowerBi or doing High Availability right now? If you’re interested, ask to go, even if the company isn’t using it right now. Frame it as exploring options that the company might use at some point (which they may argue about) or frame it as career development. This isn’t you asking to go to a Java class. It’s relevant to your career focus. It’s $129 dollars. If you don’t ask, and ask seriously though, it’s a no by default. Take 10 minutes, write a nice email request, and then follow up. The worst – the worst! – that can happen is they say no. Disappointing if it happens, but not shattering.