As I get ready to set off for the Microsoft SharePoint Conference tomorrow I am once again struck by how overwhelming the conference can be. I am speaking Monday on driving adoption to your corporate intranet and I hope to see you there. Meanwhile, there are so many vendors and so much information swirling around that it can be difficult to feel as if you are getting the most for your registration fee and those precious hours out of the office. Here are a few things I’ve learned over time to help you, especially if this is your first conference of this scale:
1. Pick an Area of Study: With so many competing sessions its important to select an area that you want to educate yourself about. This can be tied to your current job responsibilities or an area in which you’d like to increase your knowledge.
2. Network for Career Development: There are many great people and companies at this conference. This is a perfect time to network with these individuals that are in your region, industry or future career path. Though there will be thousands of people in attendance at this conference it is really a very small community. Most of us can be found on Twitter when searching with the hashtag #SharePoint. For the conference of course you can view the #spc11 feed of tweets and see many professionals in this field.
3. Give Selected Vendors Your Attention: Without the vendors in the SharePoint ecosphere many great educational community events would not occur. Do yourself (and them!) a favor and select a few that have relevant technology and spend some time in their booths. Seek out the technical experts and you will find incredibly intelligent, passionate people who have a great deal of knowledge about our industry.
4. Have Lots of Business Cards: This is NOT the place you want to run out of business cards. Bring a lot for new friends, selected vendors and professional contacts.
5. Attend the Social Gatherings: The SharePoint community is a very social bunch! We are always doing something fun to share our experiences and support local charities. Wednesday night there are some great gatherings including the OktoberFiesta at Tortilla Joe’s and the SharePint at the Tavern Grill. These events are excellent for expanding your knowledge of the great people in this community.
Whatever you do at this season’s Microsoft SharePoint Conference enjoy yourself! We are involved in a great community with excellent technology. We can use this to make a difference for people in our workplace. Have fun and see you there!