A handful of years ago, just before the annual PASS Summit conference (an event focused on technical professionals who use the Microsoft Data Platform), the leader of my PASS Local Group reached out to members planning to attend. He had arranged for us all to meet for breakfast during the event and I soon found myself sitting with a small group of fellow enthusiasts from my hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, chatting about real world SQL problems. Myself and one of the other individuals ended up hitting it off and we became solid acquaintances. A few weeks later, when my shop was in search of an experienced data professional, my thoughts immediately returned to the conversations I’d had with this person. One thing led to another and, in the end, we hired them.

Fast-forward a couple of years and I had become a co-leader for my PASS Local Group; a place I never dreamed my journey would take me.

One day, before one of our PASS Local Group meetings, I was sitting at a table speaking with my co-leading partner, a sponsoring recruiter, and a couple of other acquaintances, when in walks a data professional I had never met before. He introduced himself to us and we learned that his car had just broken down. He thought it would be a good idea to participate in the PASS Local Group meeting while he waited for help to arrive.

As it turned out, my shop was once again in a tight spot. We had been searching for another solid data professional to add to the team, and, after getting to know this individual, we ended up hiring them also!

Reflecting on both occurrences recently, it dawned on me that if it had not been for my involvement with my PASS Local Group, I would never have met either of these outstanding data professionals; team members I still work with to this very day.

There are plenty of stories like this all over the globe. One example that stands out to me is a great blog post by John Morehouse on a chance meeting he had at his Louisville SQL Server Users Group: https://sqlrus.com/2018/03/community/.

PASS Local Groups are an essential part of the PASS community. As a free resource, they are the perfect avenue for sharing knowledge and connecting with other data professionals in your respective areas, and as I shared above, they can also help you expand your network in surprising ways.

Having been afforded the opportunity to co-lead my PASS Local Group, I have come to realize the importance of reaching one person at a time. The grassroots approach of growing “up and coming” talent by providing them with access to a wide range of speakers, topics, presentations, and demos, reinforces the incredible support that exists within our community.

PASS Local Groups aren’t just helpful for newer members in our community either. Whatever your skill level or area of expertise, these groups can help you increase your knowledge by learning from experts and connecting with peers who are tackling the same issues facing you.

I am a genuine product of my PASS Local Group. For me, the importance of giving back and reaching local talent is essential to the success of future generations of data professionals. This sentiment is important to me and something that is near and dear to my heart. If you take anything away from this, please let it be this… PASS Local Groups are a vitally important part of our community.

If it were not for me joining a PASS Local Group, my journey wouldn’t have led me to becoming a PASS board member or writing this for you, my fellow PASS members. Therefore, I’d encourage every one of you to take the first step and get involved with your PASS Local Group, even if it is only to learn.

Finally, to my fellow PASS Local Group leaders that volunteer and work countless hours to help grow your respective communities – THANK YOU. I know it’s not easy and that it can be difficult at times, but the effort you put in is a “difference maker” in the lives of many. Press on and dig deep as you reach the 20th mile of this marathon. You got this!