So tomorrow I’m going to be at Tech Ed Australia 2012 in the Gold Coast. This year is my fourth time at Tech Ed and while not even close in count to some other people I know I feel that I’ve been there enough times to know my way around. As a result I thought I’d share some tips on how I think you can make the most of the event. Hopefully you find these useful. If you’ve been to Tech Ed before and are reading this post please share your tips too in the comments.
Tip 1: Ensure you visit the Schedule Builder and choose your sessions
The best way to benefit most from the event is to plan what you’re going to do in advance. Whilst session times during the conference may vary slightly from the initial published data given the conference starts tomorrow most of the timeslots will be valid unless there are some unexpected changes. You can log on to the schedule builder at https://australia.msteched.com/SignIn. Other than being organised another reason it’s a good idea to plan your sessions in the schedule builder is that this gives Microsoft an idea of how much interest is in a particular session which affects room allocations. Who wants to be in a room where there’s only standing room or overflow? Help Microsoft organise rooms by filling your schedule builder.
Tip 2: Populate your schedule by choosing sessions by Track
One thing you may notice when populating your sessions is that if you try to randomly allocate the sessions based on individual ones that interest you you may run into a lot of conflicts. To make things easier when planning your sessions I suggest you do so by track first. Generally speaking you will find that all sessions are aligned in their time slot based on the track they belong to. So if you’re interested in Cloud development then choose this track first, if interested in Windows 8 then choose that track first …etc. This will allow you to have the least clashes in your schedule.
Once you’ve chosen a particular track you’re interested in most you can then find out which sessions you do not want to attend from that track and then you can remove those sessions and fill them in with alternate sessions from other tracks that are of interest. Tracks that are related to each other such as Web and Dev Tools for examples normally are aligned to allow you to mix and match easily but I can’t say this will always be the case.
Tip 3: Be prepared to Run and arrive early for each session
Whether you like it or not chances are there may be a session you want to see that’s in a room not too close to where your previous session is so be prepared to be there early if you want to ensure you find a seat. In previous yearsthere’s been a few sessions that overflowed even for those who got there early. Between each session there’s normally around 10-15mins for you to get from one place to another. Don’t get caught in conversations during that time if you want to make the next session
Tip 4: Don’t feel bad if you have a time slot where you can’t find an interesting session! There’s other stuff you can do
If you’ve used the schedule builder and you can’t find any session you like to fill a particular time slot, you can spend that time doing 3 things: Get Certified, do some Hands on Labs or visit the Exhibition Centre where you can chat to some companies and network with people, the latter you can also do at the networking events during the conference.
Tip 5: Keep the link below on your phone/tablet or whatever you use on the go to be connected
Last year at Tech Ed all session information and other relevant stuff were available on https://techedmobile.microsoft.com.au I assume the same site will be used again this year. I’ve personally found this the best place to keep me up to date with all the latest information including any schedule/room allocation changes …etc
Tip 6: Don’t forget your business cards!
This one is a no brainer but nothing worse than getting into a conversation with someone and then not having a way to catch up or get in touch again at a later stage.
Tip 7: Join the conversation
If you have twitter, facebook or linked in then it’s a good idea to join the conversation, share your thoughts, engage with others, there’s definitely going to be a lot of talk over the next few days!
Tip 8: Enjoy your self and have a good time!
Remember the main reason you’re at Tech Ed is to learn something new, for all of us geeks usually this is also fun time, gosh this is actually my first week off work (holiday) since almost a year ago! So ensure you make the most of it, learn, and have fun.
Hope you find the above tips useful, and if you’re already reading this post then you probably know how to find me!
See you all at Tech Ed, have a great week!