Well, we talked about user groups... Let's talk about their big brother; SQL Saturdays. @SQLCenturion runs them here in OKC. They are fantastic ways to get lots of good training for a great price... FREE! Let's break this up like the user group post.
8 Hours of High Quality Training
That's right. One full day of training on multiple SQL subjects from DBA to Dev to BI. Have a specific pain point at work? Target those classes! Normally there's 1-2 classes on about every subject. The people that pick out the classes do a good job getting a good range of 100 level to 300 level classes for you. There may be a 10$ lunch fee... but it's not required.
They're All Over The World!
Do you not have time to make it to the SQL Saturday in New Mexico? Don't worry! There's one in Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma, even some to the West! Don't think that just because you're not from Oklahoma that you won't be welcome. We love seeing people from all over the country. When you're there, you'll even get the insider track on good places to eat and cool places to visit.
No, not that kind of swag. Alot of venders give away free toys or tools just to keep their name on your mind. Who knows, maybe they'll be selling a product you could really use! This is a great time to get documentation to beg for that tool that will help the fact your boss still hasn't hired those two missing DBAs.
Here's a great place to meet hundreds of people in your same field who may be looking to hire you! It's a great place to get out and meet people. Even if you aren't looking for a job... the networking aspect will help when you have questions only that BI expert can answer. Give her a call! She needs help with some policies you have answers to.
You want to be an international speaker? The best places to start is with your own user groups or with your office. The next step is these wonderful SQLSaturdays. After you make the regional step, you can move on to National! This is a good stepping stone to get your name known and eventually have you speaking at the Summit and possibly all over the world. A SQL person who travels the world at the drop of a hat... Saving unsuspecting databases from suffering only you can prevent. They will call you... Su.... eh, let's not. Still, the idea is pretty cool.