I want to first apologize to anyone that regularly reads my blog and some of the babble I throw on lessthandot.com while I learn SQL Server and grow as a DBA. My family recently moved into our new house and time has been very limited. Things are going well and the hectic schedule I call the SQL Pump is slowly coming back into its normal stride.

Why don’t you know this?

This is an extension of “Finding SQL Server Support – Become an expert yourself” much more personal discussion than other topics that I typically write about. In my efforts to be useful to the SQL Community, I have often met SQL DBAs and Developers who are just hanging around the sidelines, completely unaware of how much SQL Server help and support are out there. Surprisingly, although they sort of know that they can find answers online, they really don’t know the lengths to which respected people in the SQL community will go to help them.

Some have not even heard of community and support tools like LessThanDot.com, the MSDN forums, or even the SQL community on Twitter. Those who do know about them are hesitant to actively engage the community or the community’s leaders. Reasons include shyness, fear, a bad experience with someone egotistical dude in a forum, or simply a reluctance to waste someone else’s time. Guess what though, simply put, there’s really nothing to fear.

Get over the fear

Approaching people can be daunting. Engagaging experts can be downright intimidating. It takes some courage to take that first step, to join a community where everyone seems to know more than you do, or to directly ask someone, whose name you saw in the front cover of a SQL Server book, a question.

Before, I was in the same boat. I thought brilliant minds like Brent Ozar (blog | Twitter), Buck Woody (blog | Twitter), Paul Randal (blog | Twitter), Jonathon Kehayias (blog | Twitter) or Denis Gobo (blog | Twitter) would laugh me out of my cube if I asked them a SQL Server question. Are you kidding me? Do I dare ask about a simple issue and risk them thinking that I’m not smart enough to figure it out? I realized a few things when I got over the fear and took the first step. First, there’s no such thing as a simple problem and if there was, there really are worse things than being told it’s simple or easy. Second, almost everybody I know will attempt to help you and no, you’re not wasting their time. The same people I was scared to approach in the past are now the same people I call friends and are people I know I can rely on when I need a hand. The SQL Community is full of people that look across the room at eye level with each other . Don’t worry, nobody will belittle you and most are willing to help and welcome you to the community.

Walk up and talk to us, Please!

Go ahead and take that first step. Join the SQL community now, do not hesitate to approach anyone, and ask questions. I personally welcome opportunities to make new friends and will be willing to jump in with you on troubleshooting sessions.

My Recommendations then

So where is the SQL Community? How do I find it and jump in? Truly, it is all around us. If you look around your area you will probably find SQL Server User Groups formed and meeting regularly. That is the first step. Get face to face with other SQL people. Wait, did we just make a community together?
Other places I recommend and find myself monitoring through the day are listed below. Special mention should be noted for the still very young Twitter hash tag, #sqlhelp. If you throw a tweet up on Twitter with the tag #sqlhelp, you will find several replies coming back your way quickly for assistance with SQL Server. Check out a great example of this in action by David Taylor (blog | Twitter), “Twitter #sqlhelp WORKS!

Check the MSDN forums on SQL Server. It is frequented by MVPs, Microsoft team players and many other experts in SQL Server. Answers very seldom go unanswered. Follow along on LessThanDot and some of the SQL experts we’ve had the pleasure of being around and writing for us. SQL Server Central is a huge repository of SQL Server information. Sign up for Database Weekly. The list that goes out weekly of the authors around us is an excellent way to start the week off learning new and different ways of working on SQL Server. While going through all of these and other locations that you will find regarding SQL Server, take note in the handles and names of the people helping out. Go to Twitter and see if you can find them. Start following them! The information being poured into this tool is unbelievable at times. If you find yourself following along in a troubleshooting session on Twitter, don’t be afraid to jump in or start your own. SQL Community has open arms and doesn’t frown upon anyone.

If you need help getting to Twitter, Brent Ozar (blog | Twitter) took the time to make it easy for all of us, I Need #SQLHelp!

Another resource that is a great starting point was put together on the PASS (Professional Association of SQL Server) web site listed as the PASS Blog Directory. Most of the names listed are on twitter and visit forums actively.