[callout]This blog post is the first in a series that covers the four (4) things that you need to propel you towards success, both in business and in life. They were taken from my journal entries back in 2016.[/callout]
When I went to my very first PASS Summit back in 2007, my goal was to learn as much as I can by attending as many sessions as I possibly can. I chose the sessions I wanted to see, prepared my schedule and set alarms on my phone so I won’t forget. I did the same for my very first Microsoft MVP Summit in the same year.
But I realized one very important thing. While I did not intentionally make the effort to meet people and develop relationships during those conferences, it was my experiences with people that I remember the most. I remember how Aaron Bertrand (Twitter | blog) made me feel welcome at my very first PASS Summit despite the fact that I wasn’t part of the “cool kids club” – I was a Windows Server MVP in a room full of SQL Server MVPs (Aaron thought that I intentionally let him win in a game of pool since people from the Philippines are known for being good at the game – I don’t even know how to play the game). I remember the hugs I got from the rest of the #SQLFamily the next year I was at the PASS Summit. I remember Geoff Hiten (Twitter | MVP Profile) helping me navigate the Microsoft campus in Redmond at my first MVP Summit.
These experiences made me rethink my strategy every time I attend events. I no longer attend events to learn something new. That’s the easy part. My priority when attending events is to meet people and develop new relationships. And this is “still” a huge struggle for me – I’m an introvert. But I do make the effort of going outside of my comfort zone to focus on people.
But don’t think this is all touchy-feely. Yes, meaningful relationships are important in our personal lives. It enriches the emotional aspect of who we are as an individual.
It’s good for business
Yes, it’s also good for business…or your career, in general. Let me give you some personal examples.
It was at my first PASS Summit that I met Jeremy Kadlec, the other guy behind MSSQLTips.com. He gave me the opportunity to write articles for the site and has become instrumental in building my professional profile online. At some point, my paid articles helped me pay the bills when I was struggling financially.
It was at my first Microsoft MVP Summit that I met Adam Machanic (Twitter | blog). Remember, I wasn’t a SQL Server MVP back then and still living in Singapore. We spent time discussing potential opportunities to do work together. The next thing I know, I was on a plane to explore the next phase of my life and career in Ottawa, Canada. He made sure I got hired by this Ottawa-based company specializing in remote DBA services.
It was also at my very first PASS Summit that I met Dandy Weyn (Twitter | blog), worldwide technical lead for data platform for the office of the CTO at Microsoft. One of the smartest SQL Server geek I know who has both the technical and non-technical skills, he introduced me to some of the Microsoft partners and vendors that gave me the opportunity to do business with them. Those introductions were responsible for almost 60% of my revenue in 2016.
I could go on and on and list the valuable relationships I’ve made throughout the years. And while I don’t get to hang out with them on a regular basis (hey, we’re on different parts of the globe), I keep in touch thru Skype, email, social media or even phone calls. I make it a point to spend time with them when we’re attending the same events.
Do you want to know how practical this means to you? I bet you can identify a job opportunity or a consulting project you’ve had in the past that was a result of a relationship built over time.
I think I’ve coined the term “relational marketing” back in 1999, I just don’t have the appropriate attribution for it 🙂 But I am a big believer of building and maintaining meaningful relationships. In fact, I share a very important concept that we can learn from databases on this:
We need to be relational first before we can become transactional, lest we suffer from integrity issues. Click To Tweet
This is the main reason why I limited registration for my online courses. Because I want to build meaningful relationships. I want to do business with people who consider me their friend. Because that’s how I believe businesses should be.
At the PASS Summit, I’ve had the opportunity to spend time with those who registered for my online course. I’ve had coffee and meals with them, listened to their stories, watched their PASS Summit presentations, laughed at their jokes, shared their pains and cheered their successes. Same thing at the Microsoft MVP Summit.
Overall, I’ve received and given more hugs and high fives in those two weeks than on any other given week of the year.
It’s the R in R.E.S.T. You can’t succeed in life if you don’t develop and maintain meaningful relationships. In fact, if you trace back the major events in your life, I’m sure it was made possible by someone who you have a relationship with – both personally and professionally.
Can you guess what the E stands for?