Here’s a word for word transcription of a conversation I’ve had a hundred times over:
“Hi I’m Bert. What do you do?”
“I’m ____ and I’m a SQL developer.”
“That’s cool, me too.”
*I look down at phone because I don’t know what to talk about*
Inevitably you will find yourself surrounded by strangers. Strangers who you know share common interests with you (SQL, duh!).
But if you are like me, starting a meaningful conversation with those strangers can be uncomfortable. Most people have interesting stories to share, the challenge is to get them to talk about them.
The good news is that I’ve developed an easy way to get a conversation started with the people you just met:
Come prepared with interesting open-ended questions.
Prefer watching on YouTube? Go ahead! Otherwise, keep reading below.
I keep a memorized list of open-ended questions that I can ask whenever I don’t know how to keep the conversation going. Try asking any of these questions the next time you don’t know what to say (and reciprocate by sharing your own fun story); I guarantee these will spark some interesting conversations.
1. “What’s your best SQL Server war story?”
We’ve all been in the trenches and have had to play the hero.
2. “What are your thoughts on EntityFramework/ORMs?”
If you ever want to get a table full of SQL DBAs going, this will do it.
3. “What’s the oldest version of SQL Server you are still stuck supporting?”
Although this one elicits a one-word response, the next easy follow-up is “why/how!?”
4. “What was your biggest “oops” moment?”
Backups were corrupt? Yeahhhhh….
5. “What’s the most recent feature you started using in SQL Server 2014/2016/2017? How is it?”
I love hearing people’s answers to this because it’s a good way to figure out what new features really add value and which ones are over-hyped/limited in functionality.
6. “Are you using <feature you are interested in learning>? How is it?”
Similar to #5, this is a great way to get real-world feedback about certain features.
7. “What’s your favorite session from today/this week? What did you like most about it?”
I love finding out what sessions other people found useful – once again, real world reviews on what I should check out in the future.
8. “Have you been to <city> before? Do you have any recommendations for what I should do/see/eat?”
Great way to get to know the surrounding area without having to read reviews online.
9. “Do you use PowerShell or any other software to automate/do dev ops?”
PowerShell is the future. Start learning how others are incorporating it into their environments, what struggles they’ve had implementing automated processes, etc…
10. “Are there any other events going on tonight?”
Especially great if talking to people who have attended the event before. Find out what’s worth going to, if it’s better to show up early or late, is there a “best seat” in the house, etc…
I hope this list of questions encourages you to become better acquainted with your fellow conference goers. And if I see you at PASS Summit…don’t be surprised if you hear me ask you one of these questions!
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