The SharePoint community is known to be the most exciting and vibrant in the Microsoft space, with grassroots conferences seemingly weekly and a number of major conferences throughout the calendar year. BZ Media, the producer of SPTechCon, produces two of those major conferences annually, the first of which is coming up later this month.
This year’s SPTechCon San Francisco is in two short weeks, taking place from February 26-29 and features 18 Microsoft MVPs and many other experts who are currently gearing up to share their knowledge with readers just like you! Having outgrown the previous conference site, the event has moved to the Hilton San Francisco Union Square and is guaranteed to be four days of non-stop-SharePoint. If you have never attended a SharePoint conference, you need to. These are great opportunities to speak with the best and brightest in the SharePoint community, including authors, speakers and vendors in the industry. You can pick up some pretty cool swag too, including all the pens you can possibly use and potentially some flying monkeys.
For those already registered, here are some tips to maximize your conference experience:
Plan Ahead: Work out your goals for the conference and find out what you want to learn, whom you want to meet, and how you want to connect with people. Knowing your goals for the conference before you get to your first session is very important; it will help you navigate the venue and ensure you’re in the right place at the right time. Each time slot features many different topics and presentations, so make sure that you’re attending the session that interests you most, and don’t be afraid to get up and switch talks if you don’t feel like the topic is for you. There will be many others available to choose from.
Expert Access: Tuesday afternoon, you will have a chance to meet personally with many of the expert speakers featured by the conference. Experts will be divided into groups based on SharePoint categories (Governance, Branding, Customization, Adoption, Admin, Business, etc.), so be sure to come to the event with your toughest question.
Follow Your Track: If you are attending the conference with colleagues, speak to your team and be sure that each track is appropriately represented. Once in your session, take notes and record the questions being asked in the room. When you’re online, upload the information to your team SharePoint site (which I’m sure you’ve created for the conference), giving your team and business access to your newly created SPTechCon library. If you are attending alone, follow the track that is best suited to your role and interests.
Plan to Roam: The tradeshow floor is a not-to-be-missed venue and a great way to see the latest and greatest products and services in the community. With more than 60 exhibitors this year, the floor should certainly be visited many times throughout the conference.
Attend the Keynotes: The keynotes are a great way to hear and learn about all things SharePoint. If you missed the SharePoint Conference in October, this is your chance to hear Jared Spataro and Dene Cleaver talk about this critical time for SharePoint as it climbs over the 125-million license mark.
Collaborate and Share: SharePoint is all about collaborating, and SPTechCon gives attendees a great opportunity to connect with others in the community. The schedule and venue setup have been created to maximize the time people have to connect. Make sure you meet new people, peers and the speakers; you never know what information can be shared or learned through a simple conversation. If you have specific questions that you want answered, approach your speaker and set up a time to chat; we would be happy to set some time aside. Also, don’t forget to add the speakers on Twitter as most will be live-Tweeting and updating during the show. (Handles are available on www.sptechcon.com.)
Attend the Parties: Need I say more?
See you in San Francisco!
Eric is the EVP of Systems Integration for Concatenate, a software firm focused on maximizing SharePoint through product innovation and systems integration based in Toronto. You can reach Eric by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @rizinsights. Read his other SharePoint thoughts on his blog at www.ericriz.com.