Hard to believe that yesterday was the first day of Fall. It was 93degrees for the high here in San Antonio and there is no appearance of a season other than HOT anywhere.
Tomorrow I fly out to Atlanta for the Microsoft Ignite 2016 Conference and I couldn’t be more stoked. We are all primed to hear TONS of awesome new announcements from Microsoft this week and learn all about them from the folks responsible for bringing them to market. From Windows Server to Office 365, this week promises to be chock full of excellent stuff.
In addition all of the live breaking news, there are more than official 1400 sessions taking place throughout the week, including the 6 sessions that I am presenting, PLUS hundreds of in booth sessions that companies like Rackspace are doing on their own.
For those of you who are lucky enough to have gotten a ticket before it sold out here are a few pointers that hopefully will help you make the most of your experience at this year’s event. Since my co-workers in Corporate Marketing tell me that its best to have a click-baity title with an odd numbered list, here are my “7 things to think about for Microsoft Ignite 2016”:
1.) Keep an eye on the weather before you go
Atlanta is not nicknamed HOTlanta for nothin’. While much of the US is starting to see cooler temperatures, the South is still pretty toasty. That said, at this time of year evenings can get cooler PLUS conference rooms are either boiling hot or iceberg cold, so bringing a light jacket is not a terrible idea.
2.) Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate!
Whether you are a wild child going out to every party that the week offers you or you are a hard studying, attend every session event goer this truth is universal. We never drink enough water. There is a reason that Microsoft is going to give you a water bottle. Yes, there are sodas EVERYWHERE but H20 is still critical to you surviving the week. This is a normal thing that we all think about at home, but when we get to big conferences our brains sometimes get left in our checked luggage.
3.) Have session backups
Pick multiple sessions for each time slot. Find that you are not enjoying a session that you have stumbled into? Make your exit and find your way into another session that might suit you better. As a presenter the last thing I want is for you to sit through an entire session of mine FUMING because I am not covering something the way you need to hear it. We all learn different ways and my if my style of teaching is like nails on a chalk board to you, PLEASE find a session that is going to be a better fit. Neither of us benefit from you being overly polite to a complete stranger. Our ego will recover from losing you in the room. Ok, maybe Todd Klindt’s, won’t but most presenters will survive. He is kinda needy, which is why he needs so many hugs.
…and oh by the way, if you end up not going to those other sessions in your list, they are a perfect play list for you to start with when the videos come online for watching after the event, thus making this a good practice no matter what.
4.) Get out there and meet people
The Microsoft Technology community is a fun one. We have some unique characters, especially in the SharePoint & SQL Communities. Don’t be shy, get out there and make some connections. For the most part people are open and looking to share & learn from each other. There are lots of opportunities, you just have to step up and take advantage of them.
5.) Visit the vendors
This is not just for the SWAG that you will inevitably fill your suitcase with, but more importantly to learn about what is going on in the ecosystem that you might not be aware of. Down every aisle there are gems of information, not just sales pitches (although there are plenty of those too), just waiting for you to discover. Worried that you are going to get Spammed? Stop worrying… it is GOING TO HAPPEN. That’s why there is Clutter & Junk mail filtering. There is also the “unsubscribe button”.
There are events, cocktail hours, shindigs, parties, and merriment happening every night during Microsoft Ignite. See #5 to find out how to get on the invite list to most of them. If you aren’t being invited to things, you aren’t talking to enough vendors!
7.) Hassle the Microsofties!
Spend time in the Microsoft area of the Expo Hall. Microsoft spends a TON of money on this event with the intention of simply breaking even financially (which they don’t always do). They fly in experts from around the world to staff their dozens of booths with experience in everything that they sell. Bring your questions and find your expert. There will be an “Ask the Experts” session where all of the speakers are required to be on the floor and we are always happy to answer your questions, especially when there is free booze
…a bonus #8:
There are going to be TONS of Microsoft MVPs of all backgrounds in attendance. In general we MVPs are a friendly bunch… its kinda required with the whole community award thing. As a breed we are about engaging with & helping people. When you see us stop & say hi. From Hillbillies to CatPainters, BinaryBrewers to DiveDowners, Wonder Women to podcasting *ick* Florida Gators*ick* there will be plenty of us kicking around this week.
Hopefully while you are there you can stop by the Rackspace booth (#521) and say hi. If you don’t find me there you can always come to one of my sessions during the week. Find all of those details here on the Microsoft Ignite site.
Last thing to remember, when you fly home at the end of the week with your brain all filled with awesome new knowledge and you don’t think you can take any more, the sessions (and decks) are all being recorded and posted to Channel 9 for consumption later.