Here’s my $.02 and reasoning from the non-business side of things…
In the 4+ years I’ve worked with SharePoint, most of that time was spent working in state government, with the past year or so being spent at a university. There were no sales goals or dollar value that my employers were able to attribute to my attendance. Along with state budget issues, getting travel covered for SharePoint Saturdays just wasn’t going to happen, so I go to SharePoint Saturdays on my own time and money. I attend for my own professional development, to learn a little bit about a lot of things that I can take back to the office to do things better. It gives me an excuse to see someplace new and meet the faces I see on the blogs that I follow, and on my Twitter feed 🙂
My first SharePoint Saturday was in Tampa way back in Nov. 2009 and I instantly became hooked on the community. Everyone just wants to live up our product’s namesake – share info, collaborate on solutions, and generally help people do their job better. My work has required me to wear many different SharePoint hats as the sole “SharePoint guy”. The variety of sessions that have been offered over the years has proven invaluable in that regard, as I am able to take a bite of each piece of the SP pie and a sip from the fire hose.
After attending SPS for a few years, I was a speaker for the first time @ SPS Orlando. I saw it as my chance to give back to the community that’s helped me learn so much about SP over the past three years. When we asked the crowd at the end of the day how many of them were attending their first Share Point Saturday, at least 80% of the room raise their hands. I’m glad I could be a part of something which helped bring that many more people into the fold. There’s a treasure trove of new ideas just waiting to be unleashed when those new people really grasp the power of the platform and work to solve their business problems.
Like many others, I do it simply for the love of the product and community that surrounds it. Free training is free training. If its outside my local area, I’ll make a mini-vacation out of it and visit some place I’ve never been. I’ve always loved traveling so it goes hand in hand. I’ve done that with Washington DC & New Orleans so far, and I’m looking forward to whatever new city comes my way. Who knows, maybe I’ll end up leaving the states and scratch Europe or Austrailia off my travel bucket list. The global nature of SharePoint certainly lends itself to those ends 🙂