The VMworld Guide…
VMworld is one of the largest IT events every year and in encompasses much more than sessions or vendors, it’s an experience and for it to be a positive one a few guidelines can help. I’ve been fortunate to have attended 12 VMworld’s between Las Vegas, San Francisco and even Spain. While each has its unique attractions, these general guidelines can apply to them all.
Inside Info – With an event this size planning is key to ensuring you get to all the sessions and events you would like. For you to have good plans you have to be on the inside for the sessions, events and networking opportunities. Twitter will be your best friend for this, if you don’t have an account this is time to get one. Think of Twitter as your VMworld news feed on what you need to know. Of course, follow the staples of @VMworld, @VMware, @MyVMUG but don’t forget @VMTNcommunity, @vmwarensx, @vexpert, @vmwarenews, @vmworldtv & @vmwarevsan. Then follow your vendors of choice, they will all be at VMworld and have news of events and sessions that you may want to see.
Calendar – With so much going on your calendar will be more important than ever. Ensure all meetings, events and sessions are in one place so you don’t miss anything. Also, before you go, if you have a time zone change make sure to test it before you leave. While computers deal with time zone changes easily our calendars can have some hiccups so it’s best to double check before you onsite.
Footwear – Many will tell you to wear what if comfortable, that’s a huge mistake. Flipflops can be comfortable but you don’t want to be putting on miles a day on them. Wear shoes that balance comfort with distance. 20k steps is not unusual, in Las Vegas it might be 20k just to get to your hotel so balance comfort with distance.
Exercise – Okay we all can be a little bit better in shape but that is not the point here. You need to start walking and start now. It can be laps at the gym, outside or in the garage. Start with what is comfortable and slowly increase. Do this several times a week until a few miles are second nature. You have to remember booth size at this event isn’t measure in feet but yards. This also goes for sessions, what looks close on a map can be a football field away so having a good walking gate is helpful.
Communication – Make sure you have a solid communication plan with your team members and peers. Cell numbers need to be up to date because hoping to run into someone has odds of 1 in 20,000+. Now if you want to be advanced have a group Twitter account setup so you reach everyone right away. You can do this with Facebook as well, but Twitter seems to be a bit faster.
Sessions – As you attend your sessions you phone can be your best friend in capturing data you want to review later. Unless you a speed writer keep you phone camera handy to capture any data presented as long as it’s permitted by the speaker. Also remember if you do miss something most of the session are recorded and can be played a few weeks after VMworld.
Vendor Floor – This is a great chance to interact and learn about everything from the VMware partners that is coming to the VMware ecosystem. The key here is you can’t do the event floor in a single effort, it’s simply too big. Walk the floor to get a solid overview of the vendors and tag which ones you want to talk with further. Then over the next few days single them out for deeper conversations. Also make sure to leave room for the innovation centers and the smaller vendors, sometimes you can really be surprised what they might be bringing to the table. Also remember the vendor floor will have hanging flags with row numbers, ideal if your trying to meet up with peers or looking for a specific vendor.
Village – Besides the main floor and sessions VMware has always had a village area where you can find groups such as Opening Acts, VMunderground and VMUG. These areas area hot bed of community speakers and information. You will find some of your favorite writers, podcasters and community speakers just hanging out. Walk right up and say Hi, the VMware community is some of the friendliest people you could meet and will always take the chance to chat up some technology with you.
Technology – One thing you will need no matter what phone you have is an extra battery. As you communicate with your peers and teams, take photos and general use your battery will be exhausted. Ensure you have a solid spare battery and then bring a backup to that one. Don’t count on getting one as swag from a vendor, be prepared before you leave unless you want to be tethered to an outlet waiting for that charge.
Social – Besides having a Twitter account remember to bring traditional business cards and not just a few (yes people still use them). You will get the chance to meet a lot of folks with similar interests and challenges in their own environments and building those connections is what the IT community is all about. Also make sure your social media platforms such as LinkedIn are up to date so when you connect with folks it’s not outdated information.
Evening Events – So almost every vendor will have some type of party at night. These will involve food and of course adult beverages. Balance is key here, be social and have fun but within reason, you are after all there for your place of employment and social media posts can occur. Also, while you can party hop you might want to limit yourself to 2-3 for an evening otherwise you will spend more time getting to different events rather than enjoying the events.
So there are few suggestions to help you get the most out of VMworld!
Brian Kirsch M.Ed.