EricHarlan

Why I love SharePoint Saturday

This past Saturday I got a chance to be a part of the largest SharePoint Saturday ever.  With 929 attendee’s, 90 speakers at least 30 volunteers, it was by far an epic sight.  I couldn’t help but reflect on where we are and where we’ve come from.

I started along this ride back in March of 09’, my first SharePoint Saturday was in Atlanta. It wasn’t the biggest but it surely wasn’t the smallest either.  With a bit of nerves and an ambition to see where the SharePoint community would take us, myself along with cohort Shadeed Eleazer dropped in and took this thing for a ride.

That one day started a chain reaction in my life personally that I would have never imagined.

The first thing I have to say is I acquired meaningful relationships faster than I ever thought possible coming into a new arena.  People were for the most part genuine and put themselves out there right away to be made acquaintances of.  Of those acquaintances I found myself making profession long friends and in some cases I consider lifelong friends, all from just taking a step, putting myself out there and taking a chance.

I can’t tell you how rewarding it was to be a host a SharePoint Saturday in July 2009. And I don’t say that in hopes that you will, let’s face it the craze is already in full swing, it doesn’t need to be peddled by the likes of me.  I got to see some of what I consider the best in the SharePoint community right in my back yard.  I got to host them and throw them what I thought was one hell of a party.  I saw the way it lit up the faces of the smaller communities like Baltimore.  A handful of people worked really hard on that event, seeing how they poured their heart and soul into the planning has been replicated over and over 51 times prior at the time of this post. With at least another 19 in the works to happen.

Fast forward to November of 2009, I found myself pushing the SharePoint Saturdays pretty hard. I found myself doing one per weekend my lovely wife fully understanding throughout the ordeal.  She and I both realized (and let’s be honest here) the contacts I was making through the community and these events would ultimately come back and benefit us in the end (boy have they).  Sometimes trying to look from the outside in, our little world is sort of odd I’ll be the first to admit.  Geeks from all over the world spending lots of money (most cases their own money) flying to all these cities getting themselves a hotel room for two to three nights, renting cars etc. All for what? Facing head on what many of us consider our most primal of fears, public speaking.  And at the end of the day what’s it all for? Really it ends up being a bunch of smart people talking about work, a lot.

That said, what else is it?  Friendships, inner circles, traveling, being around other smart people and even in some cases, making ones career.  It’s so much more than just someone standing in front of people talking about alternate access mappings and object models. It’s a crisp cold beer with friends, a dinner with someone that you last saw 8000 miles away on another continent.

It’s a woman coming up to you at SharePoint Saturday DC and saying. “I enjoy reading your blog, you helped me get telerik rad controls installed…. But I enjoy it also because I just enjoy reading about what’s going on in your life and how you explain it with such wit”.  Moments like that will knock you off your feet.  It did for me; I will never forget that comment.

Fast forward to this past SharePoint Saturday DC I sat in awe at the keynote watching the steady stream of folks funnel through the door and can’t help but recall some of the comments I’ve heard in the past of how SharePoint Saturday was a passing phase, how some speakers wouldn’t bother with it and how sponsors will never continue to support it.   I don’t say that to be negative at all, there were times I even had my own doubts. I think it’s safe to say that we are firmly entrenched.

Being part of the admin committee along with Susan Lennon and founder Michael Lotter, I can honestly say that it’s my opinion that by keeping to the code of: Keeping Sponsors as happy as possible, keeping attendee information confidential, low pressure for new comers  and making the events FREE has had the effect of drawing a huge crowd

Let’s cut to the chance with all the points I’ve made, all the mushy feelings I have for great friends I’ve still seen TANGABILE leaps in my own career as a direct result to taking part in these events. I think some of it is karma, but I also think making the connections, putting in the time, putting in the dimes and getting yourself out there has done a world of good for my bottom line both financially and professionally.

In the end, what do I owe these pleasures to?  Michael Lotter?  The Community? Myself? Maybe all of the above. But one thing is for sure, I’m so thankful for this organization and where it’s going.  If you have the chance to host or attend you should snatch it up while it’s here to grab.

See you at the next after event SharePint.

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