Silicon Valley’s First SharePoint Saturday

I’m a few days behind on this, having only three days back in the office before hitting the road again. Things have been fairly hectic. Some very exciting things happening at work, and now here I am, back on the road, in Orlando for SharePoint Saturday, followed by a week of TechEd. All this travel impacts my content plans — the flight time + my lack of sleeping on flights makes for some great writing time (I scribbled down 6 articles on the flight out here yesterday, to be released over the next week), but the issue becomes time to transcribe the notes and actually post it. It’s 12:22am following the #SPSORL speaker dinner, and I finally have time to put this together.

So last weekend I was back in the San Francisco East Bay to help launch what we hope will be an annual event — SharePoint Saturday Silicon Valley. A little background: I organized SharePoint Saturday East Bay with Michael Noel back in September 2010, and from that time had been talking with Michael and local consultant and speaker, Kenneth Lo, about bringing the event over to the peninsula. There had been an SPS event in San Francisco in 2009, but it was small, and nobody from that effort was talking about another event in the city. Following SPTechCon San Francisco in early 2011, Ken and I decided to push a little harder and lock down on a new location, with the idea of 2 Bay Area events per year (plus one in Sacramento). Ken started visiting venues, but the costs and the venue layouts we non-starters. We tried to work with a couple different people, even considering Stanford campus, but nothing panned out. And then Miles Kehoe and Chris Fernandez got in touch with a great location in Palo Alto, and we were a go. The Oshman Jewish Community Center is huge, has everything we need for a growing event, and the pricing was perfect.

We divided roles across the organizational team in January, with Ken and I, Miles and Chris, and the addition of Kelley Tyburski, who was the spark behind last year’s Sacramento event, reaching out to other contacts in the region to help divide and conquer. Aside from leading the charge on sponsors, my role was to help the team organize, to establish a pattern for future SPSSV events, and to keep things simple. Of all the SPS events I’ve helped organize, this one was the quickest to reach its funding goals. Thank you again to all of our sponsors, especially to Pingar for being first to step up to the plate and sign on to the event.

Probably my best advice to anyone thinking about organizing a SPS event in their region is not to over-complicate things. These are volunteer activities, with the focus on great content. They are not about big conference frills, with expensive food and huge giveaways. Pizza or sandwiches are fine (we had a taco bar in Palo Alto), t-shirts and attendee bags and expensive raffle items are nice to have but not necessary. These events are about content and networking at the best possible price – free. Honestly, looking at the budget for this year, I can see where we can cut back in a few areas, even with an increase in attendees, and offer sponsorships at a slightly lower rate. It should be a break even endeavor.

For those who attended last week, I hope you had fun, learned something new, and made some valuable contacts. I’d encourage you to reach out to the speakers and ask questions. Don’t be afraid to contact them – that’s why we do this, to help the community learn and grow. Didn’t get a speaker’s contact info? Forgot to grab a sponsor’s business card? Let me know. I’m happy to put you in contact with them.

For those who missed my session, I provided a business topic on information architecture planning. You can download a copy of this presentation from SlideShare here, or view it below.

We’re already planning for SPSSV 2013 at the same venue next year, so please watch for it. And if once a year is not enough SharePoint Saturday for you, watch for other SPS events. In the works are another East Bay (looking at early 2013), Sacramento (trying to get on the calendar for early fall), Los Angeles (you just missed it, but another in 2013), San Diego (June 30th), the Inland Empire (looking at a possible 12/2012 event), and a short drive north to Bend OR (October 6th). All of these events are looking for attendees, of course, but we also need speakers, sponsors, and volunteers, so get involved!

Christian Buckley

Christian is a Microsoft Regional Director and Office Servers and Services MVP, the Founder & CEO of CollabTalk LLC, an independent research and technical marketing services firm based in Salt Lake City, Utah, and CMO of revealit.io, a blockchain-based video technology company.