SQLSaturday events are free, community-driven, and community-attended technical training events, created by hours of volunteer labor by local user group organizers. These local user group organizers, driven to help their local/regional IT scene, are authentic representatives of their community. Folks in attendance are local or regional IT professionals who are enthusiastic about their careers, to the point where they gladly spend most of their Saturday in Baton Rouge, or Atlanta, or Puerto Rico, or Houston, or Rio, or Johannesburg, or Dallas, or Louisville, or New York, or Singapore, or Birmingham AL, or Redmond, or ...
Not Just For SQL Experts
In many SQLSaturday events, including Baton Rouge, the day of training isn’t just for SQL Server experts, but for all surrounding technologies, including software and hardware, and also for the entire IT department, with tracks for professional development, IT Management and more.
Take a look at the categorized job descriptions from SQLSaturday Baton Rouge, an annual event with 600+ attendees on the campus of LSU, for the past three years. Note how the event can attract everyone in the Microsoft ecosystem, including students and academics, but also C-suite leadership and decision makers at every level of the business.
Authentic Community Interaction
There are no better opportunities for authentic interaction with local IT professionals than a SQLSaturday event, and no better way to show your company’s authenticity and dedication to the community to a base of job seekers, students, future leaders, and technology evangelists. SQLSaturday sponsors are special – attendees know that SQLSaturday events often attract local or regional companies who are “in the community” and want to be a part of their technical network. With little to no marketing budget for most events, the word gets around via technical discussions, social media on the topic, and word of mouth.
SQLSaturday events are entirely funded by sponsors – they are free for anyone to attend – and no speakers are compensated, even for travel expenses. Being part of a SQLSaturday event by sponsoring is not only ROI in terms of marketing, recruitment, and business development, it is highly visible good will in the community that will be repeatedly appreciated throughout the day.
Practical Training Attracts Real Professionals
SQLSaturday events are not just a local “tech” meeting, they are focused on the Microsoft SQL Server platform and it’s wide array of surrounding technologies. The sessions delivered at SQLSaturday events are far from vendor sales pitches, product demos, or academic theory. These events are specific to the work that your developers, sysadmins, database administrators, and business intelligence creators use every day.
The topics at your local SQLSaturday are applied and practical, delivering familiarity and capability with technologies that IT professionals will be using on Monday.
These aren’t abstract tech sessions, academic dissertations, maker faires, or computer family fun events, SQLSaturdays contain real business knowledge and applied techniques for solutions in Microsoft technologies.
Real Sponsor ROI
The ROI for the attendees is obvious, a free day of training, plus giveaways, books, food, and networking. SQLSaturday events try their best – almost always without any marketing budget – to attract their local technical user base of experts, technicians, and professionals. The ROI for sponsors is directly related to the high quality of dedicated IT professionals and decision makers that attend.
Sponsors can look forward to guaranteed foot traffic in front to your booth throughout the day (and especially around lunch time), the chance to address to the entire conference at the end-of-day raffle, and many more vendor-appreciation opportunities at SQLSaturday events provide.
SQLSaturday events may offer to provide a lunch session to vendors for company promotion and sales-specific type of presentations, special “networking night” user group meetings for sponsors to participate in, multiple raffle giveaways through the day, special snacks/treats, and dedicated mailings. Ask your SQLSaturday organizer about creative ways your company can stand out.
Building Contacts in the IT Community
There are multiple ways sponsors can follow up with attendees, the most clear being the raffle tickets which attendees print and bring. Each raffle ticket, part of the “SpeedPASS” PDF that every attendee can download, contains a QR code which is specific to the event, attendee, and sponsor. Scanning the QR code after the attendee drops it in your raffle box gives you access to a report of your Scanned Attendees list after the event. Conferences may also give access to higher-tier sponsors to the registration list of attendees who “opted in” to be contacted.
SQLSaturday events typically include some sort of Friday night function for out-of-town speakers and sponsors – this is a great opportunity for a sponsor to connect with the most dedicate of all folks in the IT community – those who volunteer to speak (and travel!) to free SQLSaturday events around the world.
And after the SQLSaturday event is over, reach out to the local user community group. Many of our SQLSaturday event sponsors are also sponsors of regular monthly user group meetings. A SQLSaturday event is 60+ monthly user group meetings all in a day, with the same leadership, but with a much wider net of attendees and speakers.
Sparkhound in the Community
Sparkhound is proud to say that many of its employees in Baton Rouge lead, attend and/or speak at local IT user groups, especially the Baton Rouge .NET and SQL Server User Groups. The same applies to the annual extension of User Group efforts, the annual SQLSaturday event in Baton Rouge, where motivated IT professionals from around the country gather to speak, network, and learn.
We’ve also sponsored and had folks speak at numerous other SQLSaturday events in Houston, Dallas, Birmingham, Charlotte, Pensacola, and Columbus, Georgia. We’ve been involved in similar free community events as well including the annual Houston Tech Fest in the fall, SharePoint Saturdays, and Days of .NET.
We’d love to hear from you with any questions about what kind of ROI we’ve had at these events, and put you in touch with organizers of a local SQLSaturday event near you.
Hope to see you on the SQLSaturday circuit soon!