Welcome back to a new week at www.implementingscrum.com.
I am writing this blog entry from the beautiful city of Portland, Oregon. Nice place and I am having a great time teaching a CSM Class here earlier today and tomorrow.
Wednesday early early in the morning, I am “off” to Santa Clara for SD West. It is an awesome conference and one that I look forward to attending and speaking at each year.
Now, as most of you may know, I am a total introvert.
Or. This may come as a total surprise to you.
This makes it challenging for me to get up in front of people to speak (imagine that… and I am a Certified Scrum Trainer who does this regularly).
Does this mean it is impossible?
I do it.
Because I really do love what I do for a living, and I hope it shows (from writings here and the public speaking that I do around the world).
Another “insider” tip — most of the times the speakers do not get paid or reimbursed in cash or expenses to speak at the conferences. Big names and Key Notes — probably different.
But folks like me, well, guess where this expense comes from?
My own pocket. Not some corporate expense report either.
This is OK with me. I truly love what I do and am willing to spend my own money to talk about it.
Yeah, there are “perks” like a shirt and a pass to other speakers and working with an awesome professional conference staff… and what can really beat that (smile)?!?!?
I try to set an example for other introverts around the world to see that anything is possible if you are willing to try.
And get over the feeling of wanting to barf in your shoes or die than rather talk to people.
Today’s posting is about the topic of making the most of any “Conference” event.
You know, where there are a lot of similar people congregating in some city trying to learn some new things and and and….
Yes, even if you are an introvert, these things can be fun and actually help you in the future.
Here are my Seven Conference Survival Tips for Geeks
1) Network. Network. Network.
This means bringing along a good supply of current business cards to hand out to everyone you meet (people make fun of me for handing out cards… if that is the worst I can be known for, well….).
Keep an eye open for a “Networking Section” at conferences. This is where you may actually have to talk face-to-face with others.
Suck it up and do it. You may be amazed.
It is a small world.
Work on making contacts — there are people from all over the world here and it is amazing the contacts I have made over the years.
Bring a current copy of your resume or be able to email it to someone if they ask — you never know who you may bump into (for me, I can just say “google me” and well, I am out there now…. something that did not happen overnight.
2) Attend Workshops.
And go to some of the night sessions or BoF’s (“Birds of a Feather” – usually an informal gathering with key people in the industry to chat about a specific topic — some like Star Trek (how much more geek can you get LOL?)) and keynote speakers you can grab a beer with. Or buy one for :).
Figure out what courses / workshops / trainings / keynotes you want to see.
Conferences can be overwhelming. Listen to feedback from other attendees.
Be flexible and go with the flow when needed.
Maybe… and this may be a big leap for you… attend some workshop or talk on some technology or methodology or bla bla bla that you have never heard about.
Open your mind.
Make some connections to things out there in other parts of the world that may actually have something to do with what you are doing today.
Or…. something you may want to do tomorrow.
3) Spread out.
If you have multiple people from your organization attending – spread out and cover multiple sessions during the same time; when you return to reality (work) following this conference, the stuff you learn can be great input for brown bag lunches.
Or talk about via IM or blogging or even back to talking to yourself (smile).
WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING
A lot of what you hear may get you fired up and excited about making swift changes within your organization. Please remember do not make any career ending moves when your return to reality the following week.
WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING WARNING
4) Leave feedback.
Most conferences take the feedback of its customers (you and I) very seriously.
If some speaker is awesome — let them know about it.
If someone is absolutely terrible — let them know about it (and why).
Conferences are continually evolving and get better every year with feedback from you and me.
Even as introverts we have a say. Let it be heard! It only takes a few minutes…. and REALLY makes a difference.
5) Have fun.
Yeah, sometimes you are stuck hanging with fellow geeks.
So meet people and start talking to them. It is amazing to see that other people may have the same “problems” as you do in your development shop today — creative solutions flow freely here.
And if you are into male Dolly Parton Cover Bands… well…. I can tell you a story from a few years ago.
Expect the unexpected.
Stretch yourself. There are plenty of topics here that you may not know about — now is the time to learn something about those topics.
7) Network. Network. Network.
Oh, I said that.
Hmmmm….. That is the most critical thing in my opinion (smile).
Here is a “final ask” before signing off tonight — if you are attending the SD West Conference — or any other one where I am attending or speaking around the world — PLEASE contact me to see if we can meet face-to-face.
And I promise as long as you are not some hot six foot four supermodel with some name I cannot pronounce, I will not barf on my shoes (I may barf on your hot shoes — shoot…. YOU are the six foot four supermodel).
Would love to meet fellow introverts.
Learn from friendly extroverts!
Got any other ideas? Share and leave copious comments. Consider it practice for real-world-networking!
Gotta run!.Please send comments, questions, criticisms, ideas, or whatever here.
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