What did I learn from going to conferences both as an attendee and a presenter? A lot. From my travels I compiled several tips in order to survive IT conferences. With that in mind, I wrote this survival guide for Microsoft Ignite 2018 attendees. It’s broken down into a few sections, so I hope it will help you get the most out of Microsoft Ignite 2018.
Before You Go
It might seem odd, but there are a number of things that you can do before going to Microsoft Ignite. Doing the preparation will help you make the most of your time.
-Make sure that you have good, comfortable shoes. Seriously, I can’t stress this one enough. You will be walking a ton and I mean a ton! If you, like me, wear a Fitbit, you’ll easily get to 10,000 steps (which is almost 5 miles) every day without even trying. At Microsoft Ignite 2017, I walked over 17,000 steps in one day. That’s almost 8 miles! I averaged over 15,000 steps/day for the week.
-Traveling can be tiring, so try to arrive at least one day before the conference. Plus, if there is an issue with your flight you should be able to still get there before everything starts.
-Review the Agenda and book your MUST see sessions NOW! If there are two or more of you going to Microsoft Ignite from your company then make sure that you go to different sessions. Keep in mind that many sessions are recorded, so you can watch them after the event. I say this from experience: please make sure that you actually watch the session after the conference is over if you can’t make it in person.
-Start writing a list of questions and/or problems (NOW!) that you are looking to solve or get answered at Microsoft Ignite. If it makes sense, review the list with your boss and team. They may have a few more questions or solutions that they want you to look for at the conference.
-Review the vendor list and note who you want to see in the Expo Hall. Consider booking a meeting with vendor teams now instead of waiting until you are at Microsoft Ignite.
-Remember to earmark some time to explore the Expo Hall. You might be surprised at what you find! And, keep in mind that the Expo Hall is HUGE!! I estimate that it will take at least 5-minutes to get from one end to the other, so make sure that you factor that in when booking either meetings or time to explore.
-Review the weather forecast for the week and pack the appropriate clothing!
Survival Guide to Microsoft Ignite 2018
During the conference, my biggest piece of advice is to make sure that you pace yourself. You don’t want to burn out.
-Again, wear good, comfortable shoes. I seriously can’t stress this one enough! Your feet and back will thank you.
-Drink lots of water to keep hydrated! Especially when in Florida this time of year.
-Eat a good breakfast.
-Try to avoid bringing your laptop to the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC). If possible, leave it in your hotel room. Take it from me, after carrying around a laptop all day, you’ll find that it seems bigger and heavier than you ever remembered! If you absolutely must bring it with you, then I’d suggest bringing a roller bag. Pulling a roller bag around, however, could make your walk through the OCCC a bit challenging.
– If you are lucky enough to have a hotel attached to the OCCC, remember that there are walkways to and from your hotel BUT these walkways are NOT indoors. I was surprised about that last year. They are covered, but the weather can still effect you when walking between the buildings.
– Dress in layers. Outside can be very hot, but inside the OCCC, the air conditioning can make it feel cool.
-Each day, before heading out to the OCCC or the Expo in the West Hall, review your list of problems. Why? Discussing your problems with other attendees, the Microsoft teams, vendors or MVPs may provide you with helpful solutions. I’m always surprised by the number of times this has happened to me!
-Take some time to visit the Expo Hall. You never know what you will find that may end up helping you out. Also, the Expo is comprised of more than just vendors. The Microsoft teams are there to answer your questions and there are also a number of theaters. You should set aside at least 2-4 hours to explore the expo floor.
-Talk to fellow attendees. Lunch or social events are great times to talk. Believe me when I say that some of the BEST advice that you will get is from your peers!
-Don’t be surprised if the internet connection during the conference is bad at times, so have a backup. Use Twitter and/or text messaging to communicate with others.
-If you are with a group of people, pick a meeting spot that has chairs!
-Get a good night’s sleep each and every night.
-Lastly, remember that each day is LONG, so pace yourself. There is absolutely no way you can see everything!
After You Go to Microsoft Ignite 2018
You’re not out of the woods yet, but you are almost home!
-Take a day or two to slow down.
-Look for the PowerShell script that will allow you to download all of the sessions as MP4s. If you have a long flight, you can watch a few of the sessions on the plane. Remember to watch those sessions that you couldn’t make in-person.
-Review your notes and write a trip report as soon as possible after the event.
-Take the time to follow-up with vendors that you are truly interested in learning more about.
I hope you found this Survival Guide to Microsoft Ignite 2018 useful! I would love to hear what you think, so since I will be in the Enhansoft booth #2113 during the conference, I will be watching your tweets before, during and afterward!