The Mentoring Experiment : Mentor Me?

Earlier this year, I came across The Mentoring Experiment website, and I really liked the concept, but had just missed the cutoff to apply as a mentor. Then, I noticed a tweet from Andy Warren ( blog | twitter ) in July saying that they were looking for mentees. I decided to check it out, and throw my hat in the ring. I was expecting to only need to provide my contact information, but there were actually a few questions requiring me to think about what I was hoping to get from this. I decided to ask for a mentor that could help me with my ‘personal brand’. I was already a rookie blogger, speaker, and twitterer…so I decided to ask for a mentor who could help me out in those areas (plus networking). I’ve tried the blogging thing in the past, but gave up quickly in those former blogger lives. This time I’m sticking to it pretty well.

Remembering that I’m doing this to build my personal brand, and expand my professional network, here are some of the questions I have for my future mentor (I’d be curious what my readers’ thoughts are as well):


What are reasonable goals to set and care about? Number of posts per month? Being on others’ blog rolls? Readership and/or hit count?

What are the pros and cons of syndicating my blog? What are some of the differences between the available options?

Do I blog about ‘short, easy things’ because those help more people and make it easier to blog regularly? Or, do I need to have long blog posts about more advanced topics, because that will somehow get me more respect?

Roughly what percentage of my posts should be non-technical (like this one), so readers get to know more about me?


I rarely use Twitter when I’m at work, but my experience has been that if I tweet outside of business hours, it pretty much goes unseen. So, I’ve been using Tweetdeck to schedule them to go out early in the morning, which has been a pretty good strategy overall, but makes it tougher to use Twitter to have a conversation. Have you noticed that some times are better to Tweet than others? Any other tricks to share along these lines?

Do I need to tweet daily just for the sake of tweeting, so I don’t get forgotten/unfollowed?

If somebody that already has 10K followers tweets something, given that most of my followers are also in the same business, when do I not look like a remora for retweeting them?

It’s easy to say that you should ignore how many followers you have, once you have some. But, how do you establish that base?

Are there certain hash tags that are SQL specific that I don’t know about? eg, I recently learned about #sqlblog. Are there others?


Getting a new presentation together is a lot of time and work. How do you balance between presenting new things, and presenting ‘old’ sessions enough times to get some ROI, and give yourself a little break?

Is there a magic trick to get attendees to fill out the feedback forms for your sessions? We put a lot of work into these, and really want constructive criticism (or praise), but many attendees don’t even take a few minutes to fill them out.

What formulas have worked for putting a great abstract together? Does it change for SQLSaturday vs Summit vs SQLCruise?

Do you get your new presentation together and then create and submit the abstract, or vice versa?

How do you know when you are ready to submit to the Summit? Is it a certain number of SQLSaturdays under your belt? Knowing certain people? Knowing one right person?

What are the pros and cons of providing full slide decks? With all of your notes?

When should you use Powerpoint vs Prezi (or similar)? How much longer does something like Prezi take?


So far, my follower count and LinkedIn connections have jumped the most due to presenting at SQLSaturdays, and networking with the other speakers. So, I’m doing a pretty good job there. But, at the same time, I went to speaker dinners and after parties hoping to meet specific speakers, and was disappointed when it didn’t work out (they clearly weren’t open to meeting a rookie like me and I know that’s not my fault, but it was frustrating and a let down nonetheless). On the other hand, I have really connected with speakers I didn’t expect to, which has more than made up for it.

Am I supposed to introduce myself by my name, Twitter handle, or both? Sounds like a silly question, but @DataOgre is a lot easier to remember and recognize than Rick Krueger.

Any thoughts on how to connect to the people attending my SQLSaturday sessions? Dave Valentine ( blog | twitter ) and I start our sessions with a unique section dedicated to networking, and ask them to introduce themselves to us, and most don’t.

Do you have any ideas from other SQLSaturdays to get people other than speakers and organizers to show up to the ‘after party’?


I am really looking forward to  The Mentoring Experiment, and finding out who my mentor will be! Thanks to Steve Jones ( blog | twitter ) and Andy Warren for making the effort.

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