Flying at 34k feet over the midwest on my way to #SPC14 and I realized that I had not stopped to enjoy the moment. We are once again about to dive head long into a week filled with the greatest technical community around. This is my 4th SharePoint Conference, but the first time that I will be presenting. Over the past 3 years as a speaker in the SharePoint Community I have found my way to Las Vegas about a dozen times now, not including my regular enjoyment trips for March Madness, the occasional bachelor party, and what used to be a semi-annual gambling trip. While there are several blogs out there talking about what not to miss while you are in town for the conference, I hope to throw a different spin on the conversation. Here goes:
1.) Speed walking the trade show floor
Personally I like to do a full lap of the floor before walking up to any of the booths. Just from perusing the floor you can get a sense of where you will want to spend your time. If you just start at the entrance and dive in you may miss out on some of the hidden jems of the floor.
2.) Pick up a carry around bag
You are going to get some form of bag from the conference itself, but more than likely this is going to be a backpack or a messenger style bag. I am talking about an open top two handled bag. Lots of vendors have them at their booth and they come in very handy. If you are carrying your laptop\tablet around in your backpack you don’t want to have to rip it off your back every time an exhibitor gives you a piece of swag or collateral. It is much easier to drop it in your bag and move on. Sort through it all later.
I am not just talking about drinking water, which you should do at every opportunity. Most of us do not come from the very dry climate that Las Vegas features. Couple with that the recirculated air of the conference center and double that up with the open smoking indoors that you find on the casino floor and you have a nasal nightmare. Get some saline spray and keep your nose moisture laden or you will regret it. Also, utilize the lotion from your hotel room to keep from turning into a dry scaly mess.
4.) Note taking in your sessions
This year with the second screen experience you are getting the slide deck directly from Yammer. Rather than trying to take notes in OneNote and correlating that to a slide that the speaker is talking about, simply use the notes field in PowerPoint and take notes directly in your copy of the deck. This will make for a more cohesive recollection after the conference. I tend to insert a slide where the presenter is doing their demos and take notes directly on that blank slide for the demos. Remember that you are going to get access to the recordings of the sessions afterwards.
5.) Pay attention
I have been very guilty of this at some conferences and missed out as a result. You are immersing yourself in the largest collection of SharePoint talent gathered in one place. What do you think is going to get talked about in the hallways between sessions? At dinner? Over drinks? If you haven’t been paying attention during the day, how are you going to keep up with the conversations? Take the time to listen and learn in the sessions and then continue the learning with your peers after.
The best part about being in the SharePoint Community is the people. This is the best networking opportunity you will have all year to meet people and grow your network. Whether you are looking to meet someone who you respect from reading the blogs, books and watching the PluralSite course or if you are just trying to meet likeminded people who are just getting started, don’t miss out on this opportunity to connect and make new connections. Be sure that you have a Twitter & LinkedIn account so that you can expand your network and connect with the people you meet.
7.) Enjoy yourself
If you cannot find fun at SPC, then you are doing something wrong. There are always multiple somethings going on every night. Keep an eye on the Yammer network, #SPC14 on Twitter, and FourSquare to find the open invites all over the place. Can’t get in to a vendor’s party because the line is too long? MAKE YOUR OWN PARTY. There is a bar every 22.7” feet in Las Vegas. We did this at SPC in Anaheim because we weren’t willing to wait on a 2h line to get into a club. While the club party was amazing from what I heard, I wouldn’t change a thing about the night that we had.
…and on lucky #7 I will leave you. I hope that these tips are useful to you and I look forward to seeing you throughout the course of the conference. I will be hanging around playing Xbox One between sessions at the Atrion booth #2140, so please stop by and say hi.
Please join me for “Achieving better business productivity through Apps for Office” on Tuesday morning at 9a. I am very excited to present this awesome topic on the first Executive track at SPC!