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SPC12 Readiness Checklist

I started doing conference readiness checklists last year at SPC11 and I wanted to continue the tradition with #SPC12.  Mark Freeman (@SPHotShot) has already produced a great guide and I wanted to add my two cents.

What to pack:

  • Chargers / Power Supplies – I remember when I went to PDC05, I forgot my laptop charger.  I was quite bummed.  Don’t forget the chargers to your laptop, netbook, iPad, phones, etc. I have gotten a few of these new emergency phone chargers at conferences lately and they are very handy here.  Especially when you have a Nokia Lumia 900 and the battery life is terrible.  Keep in mind your average day can be 16 – 18 hours plus and you don’t want to be left in the dark and miss that big gathering because your phone died.
  • Laptop – As a presenter this one is obvious.  However as an attendee, you might not want to lug one around.  It can be worth it though.  You will find that you want some type of computing device so that you can keep up on twitter, follow the latest gossip, and find out about any impromptu #SharePint events that might occur.  Maybe even read a few E-mails.  As a presenter, I get the distinct pleasure of carrying a second laptop as well with my demos loaded on it in the event of an emergency / disaster.  Disasters will happen.  At SPC11, my virtual machine pretty much died on my primary laptop and I had to resort to the backup just twenty minutes before my session.  I was sweating to say the least.
  • Tablet – In lieu of carrying around your heavy laptop, I find carrying my netbook at conferences to be quite handy.  I haven’t invested in a Surface yet (mainly because I am not sure which one I want).  I’m not holding my breathe either that they will be handing them out like at Build.  Bring whatever device or combination thereof you prefer, but keeping up on what’s going on at the conference using one of these small devices is much easier than trying to look things up on your phone.  This year, I am foregoing this because of the second laptop and my bag will be heavy enough.  You also can use these to fill out session evaluations.  There are usually incentives for filling out evaluations so I try to complete each evaluation right before the end of the session so I don’t forget.
  • AirCard / MiFi  – The wireless networks at conferences are rarely good.  They are jammed with geeks trying to post updates on Twitter and check out what’s happening on Facebook.  If you have access to a wireless AirCard, bring one.  See if your company has any that you can check out temporarily. 
  • Cash – Just a little (more if you drink and gamble a lot :) ).  There are a lot of free events but you might go to something before or after the conference and I am not a fan of running tabs at busy restaurants and bars.   Don’t take it all with you every night.  Leave some in the hotel safe.
  • Snacks – After a long night, you will want something to eat.  At the minimum, you might want something to eat in the morning.
  • Business Cards – Even if you are not in sales, bring twice as many as you think you will need.  You will go through them faster than you think.
  • Bail Money – The Houston SharePoint Users Group has a running joke about always keeping a stash of bail money around when attending a #SharePint.  You never know what is going to happen.

Before you go:

  • Arrive early – Come in early and have some fun in Vegas before you get into the conference grind.  That means you (@fabianwilliams).  Many of us will be arriving Friday or Saturday. 
  • Don’t leave early – After a week of Vegas, I am sick of the place and I am ready to leave.  However, you don’t want to cut the conference short on Thursday by having to leave early.  Plan for an early Friday departure.
  • Set your schedule on My SPC  - This will make your SPC organizers happy when it comes to capacity planning.  You aren’t required to go to that session you schedule, but it will help you pick from the 10+ sessions going on at any given time slot.  Go to My SPC and set your schedule now (or at least when it finally comes out).
  • Create your Bio on My SPC – Whether you are an end user or a SharePoint rock star, take a few minutes to write about yourself.  Include where you work if you want along with what you typically do with SharePoint and what you want to get out of the conference.  Upload a picture of yourself to make things more personal.  Set your My SPC bio now.
  • Create a #SPC12 Search in Twitter – There is no question you want to keep an eye on the activity of the #SPC12 hash tag.  You will find out about sessions, events, and it will generally give you an idea of what is happening at the conference.
  • Follow @SPConf on Twitter – This is the official twitter account for SPC.  This account often posts useful stuff about the conference.  I’ve also used it to ask questions or provide general feedback and I’ve had very good luck getting a response.
  • Reach out to your local SharePoint User Group – Find out what your local SharePoint User Group is doing while at SPC.  Many of them are having meetings or socials.  For example, H-SPUG (#HSPUG) is having a happy hour on Sunday night.
  • Don’t forget to set your user group in your profile  - You can now set your SharePoint user group in your My SPC bio.  Set that to make it easier to find people in your group.
  • Register for Pre-conference Sessions – If you think you will be able to get up on Sunday morning, attend one of the pre-conference sessions.  Many of them are free.  Just keep in mind there is a $300 no-show penalty.
  • RSVP for Parties – There are a lot of them this year but many of them are not being widely publicized.  Many of them require that you RSVP or stop by a booth so be sure and find out before hand. 
  • Arrange for Ground Transportation  - Don’t forget to arrange for ground transportation.  You really don’t need a car in Vegas, but you do need a way to get there.  Taking a Taxi usually isn’t too expensive and there are plenty of shuttle options as well.  This may be less of a concern on arrival but more for your departure.
  • Leave space in your bag – Between the conference materials and the vendors you are going to end up with a heap of product information, trinkets, and T-shirts.  Make sure you have room in your bag to bring them home.  Otherwise you’ll be hand carrying them on the plane or leaving things behind.

What to do at the conference:

  • What’s in Vegas, will not stay in Vegas – Nerds have gadgets and they like to take pictures.  Do something stupid and you can rest assure it will be on twitter within seconds. :)
  • Make a habit of going by EyeCandy – EyeCandy in Mandalay Bay is a defacto SharePint hang out.  Make a habit of cruising by it from time to time on your way to wherever to see if anyone you know might be there.
  • Remember to eat - This one sounds obvious but it’s not.  You may be going to lots of parties with nothing but light appetizers.  This does not give you a good base to work upon before embarking on a night of massive consumption.
  • Ask Questions  - Don’t be afraid to walk up to the mic and ask a question.  That’s what you’re here for.  If you don’t want to ask it in front of everybody, wait in line and talk to the speaker at the podium just be mindful that the speaker has to clear out in a hurry.  Don’t be afraid to approach speakers outside the room either.  Most of them are friendly and are easily engaged using beer and cocktails. :)
  • Don’t worry about writing everything down – Remember the slides and content are all online.  Don’t stress out because you weren’t able to write down a URL or code snippet on a slide.
  • Make friends – You may run into lots of people you know, but many people aren’t active on twitter and aren’t familiar with the SharePoint community.  Find a friend if you didn’t come to the conference with any one.  It’s much more fun to go do all of the activities in a group rather than by yourself.
  • Visit the Exhibit Hall – The exhibit hall is a lot of fun.  Besides all of the SWAG and drawings, you are likely to find out about evening events that way. Make a point of going there every day.
  • Attend the sessions – Don’t skip out on the morning sessions.  If I have to get up early so do you. :)
  • Attend the Hands on Labs – If you haven’t had a chance to get your hands on SharePoint 2013, get down to the HOL and check it out.  This is a great way to experience the product without having to take the time to install it.
  • Take a test – The certification tests are in beta right now.  I doubt very many of us are prepared to pass them, but sign up for them any ways.  It’s free.  Do keep in mind that beta tests are longer than normal so you’ll have to commit quite a bit of time to them.
  • Don’t underestimate travel times – The walk to the convention center from a room at the Mandalay Bay is at least ten minutes.  When I stayed at the Luxor at SPC09, it was a full thirty minute walk.  Even within the convention center, there are long walks between sessions.
  • Arrive early to sessions – Many sessions will fill up and entrance will be denied.  Don’t get left out by showing up late.
  • Learn hash tags for the sessions you are attending – Every session you are attending has an associated hash tag that you can follow.  For example, my Windows 8 Session is number 025, so the hash tag for it is #SPC025.  You can go ahead and save a search for that one now. :)  I hear #SPC195 is also a good one!
  • Don’t wear your badge outside of the convention center – Nothing says you don’t have any game like walking out of the convention center with your badge on.  Take it off as you exit the area.
  • Don’t forget your badge (and lanyard) at the attendee party – At SPC09, your badge and the lanyard were required to get in.  I know several people that had to walk all the way back to their room just to get the lanyard.  That was a one hour walk since it was back to the Luxor.  I saw something in an E-mail that seemed to indicate that this might be a wristband this year so don’t forget that (or lose it).
  • Keep your phone charged – The battery life on LTE phones is horrible and even worse when you are tweeting non-stop all day.  Keep an eye on your phone’s battery life and charge up throughout the day. 
  • Don’t blow all your money – This one goes without saying.  I came to SPC09 on a budget and quickly depleted my designated gambling funds.  It prevented me from doing anything else for the rest of the trip.
  • Don’t be afraid to leave for lunch – I’m not a huge fan of conference food and it rarely gets along with my diet.  Usually by the second or third day I am grabbing anyone I can find and going off-site.  Find me at the conference and you can join me.
  • Attend #ShareHofbrau on Thursday – After the conference, unwind with friends at Hofbrauhaus Las Vegas.  It’s an authentic German beer hall and it’s loads of fun.
  • Fill out your evaluations – These really are important to the speakers.  Let them know they did a good job and take the time to leave actual text comments in them.
  • Establish rendez-vous points – Establish meeting spots in advance with your group and set a time to meet.  Mine will probably be the slot machines immediately outside of EyeCandy. :)
  • Have a nice day – Be sure and see Bon Jovi at the attendee party.  If you are expecting to meet people there, do it before you go into the beach club.  The club is huge and they filter traffic to the area they want you in.  If you don’t walk in with the people you want to see, you will likely not see them that night.

That’s my list.  I’m sure there are other things to remember.  Do you have anything else to add?  Leave a comment.  This probably goes without saying, but if you are not on twitter, now is the time to join.  It’s the best way to keep up with what’s happening at the conference.

I’m also presenting two sessions at this year’s conference and I would love for you to come see them.

  • #SPC025Bringing SharePoint to the Desktop: Building Windows 8 Apps with SharePoint – This talk titled, Bring SharePoint to the Desktop: Building Windows 8 Metro Style Apps with SharePoint is centered around different ways we can leverage SharePoint data in a rich full-screen interface.  This developer-centric talk will show you the basics of building Windows 8 apps and then take advantage of the new SharePoint 2013 APIs to do data binding and notifications.  If you have an interest in Windows 8 and SharePoint, this talk is for you.
  • #SPC195PowerShell 3.0 Administration with SharePoint 2013 – In this session, we’ll cover everything from tips and tricks with PowerShell to key new cmdlets you will want to know about.  We’ll talk about installing solution packages, managing upgrades, provisioning the new service applications, and more.  I promise I’ll do my best to make PowerShell an exciting topic.  I know some of you out there love it, so I think it will be a fun talk.

Enough with the shameless plug. :)  Get ready and I’ll see you at the conference.

Follow me on twitter: @coreyroth.

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Corey Roth, a SharePoint Server MVP, is an independent consultant specializing in Cloud technologies such as Azure and Office 365. He also specializes in mobile development. Corey serves as the product manager for two cloud-first mobile app platforms: BrewZap and HappenZap.

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