I want to make sure that everyone knows about the launch of the sixth annual SQL Server Magazine Innovators Contest. The contest Web site opened May 1 and will remain open until August 1.

You can learn more about the Innovators contest and submit your entries at http://www.sqlmag.com/awards/index.cfm?type=innovator. This year, there will be one grand-prize winner and three runners-up. The grand prize includes airfare and registration to the Fall 2007 SQL Server Magazine Connections in Las Vegas, along with several other prizes. In my opinion, one of the best prizes is the opportunity to have your solution written up as an article in SQL Server Magazine. At first glance, that might not seem terribly exciting, but visibility and press are always good for your career whether you’re looking to move up in your current job or considering other employment opportunities. So put your best foot forward and tell us about the coolest, newest, most exciting, and most innovative things that you’ve done with SQL Server.

I’ve had the pleasure of serving as an Innovators contest judge in the past and hope to judge again this year, so let me offer some unofficial tips on how to get your entries to float to the top. First, consider the following bullets--taken from the Innovators contest Web site--to be clues as to what the judges are likely to find interesting:

· Uses Microsoft SQL Server technology
· Blends technical know-how with creative, innovative problem solving
· Solves a tough business challenge
· Has brought tangible benefits to your organization--such as cost savings, improved user productivity, better customer service, or help in achieving regulatory compliance

Second, remember that it's the "Innovators" award. Innovation doesn’t necessarily mean biggest or fastest. And finally, please note that relatively stringent space limitations are imposed on contest entries. That means that no additional text is captured beyond the posted character limit. More than a few promising entries over the years have ended up on my "reject" list when I couldn’t see how the story ended.

The Innovators contest might not be American Idol, but come on: we’re SQL Server geeks. Who wants to get rich and famous on TV when you can immerse yourself in data? Reach for the brass ring and enter the contest!

Looking for a bit of inspiration? Go to http://www.sqlmag.com/articles/articleid/94156/SQL_Server_Pros_Keep_On_Innovating.html to view last year's winners and a complete Innovators contest write-up.