7 Things To Do At A Conference

by Rose Farrell on May 22, 2019

A few pieces of advice about going to conferences and what one does at them.

7 things to do at a conference

ShipItCon is soon. Well, not soon, it’s after the summer (September 6th!) but we wanted to do a bit of promo without being obvious about it and some social media expert (they said they were an expert, anyway) said that blogging is a great way to extend our reach.

nineDots are proud and excited sponsors and we’d like you to know more about it!

Here’s a few pieces of advice about going to conferences and what one does at them.

Have you ever gone to a conference and thought “What am I doing?”, “Why am I here?”, “My boss paid €900 for a ticket to CryptoBlockSummit, I had better Gain Value Add from this thing.”

Maybe ShipItCon is going to be your first conference and you have no clue what you’re supposed to do. That’s ok, most of us have no idea either. You’ll see people bustling about, confidently shaking hands. 90% of them are pretending.

1. Drink loads of water and eat something. It’s a long day, if you’re staying there. With lots of people packed into a confined space, germs are flying around and you need to keep your immune system functional or you will get the dreaded con-flu.

  • Mind yourself. If you need to take a break from socialising and talking to people – take one. Chances are at a tech event there’s a bunch of less than extroverted people. Sit down, have a snack, watch the world go by. It’s a long day to spend on your feet. I’m a huge fan of hiding in a corner to spend 20 minutes looking at cat gifs with my best “I am doing important work” face on.

2. Grab loads of swag. Every company with a stand will bring their best in pens, stickers, RFID blocking wallets, bottle openers, coffee cups… It’s all basically useless and you need it. Swag is the greatest part of any conference. Take it all and return victorious with your plunder to your office.

  • Ask what the vendors does – have a bit of a chat. Don’t grab and go. If you recognise the company name, you might learn something new and if the company is unknown to you, you’ll add to your mental map of the industry.

3. Tell the speakers you enjoyed their talk. Weirdly, this doesn’t happen so often, apparently? I genuinely thought that conference speakers would be covered in well-wishers but it seems that it is not often that an individual says “Hi, I really enjoyed your talk on Giant Servers Not Falling Down”. So go do that, it’s a nice thing to do and it will make someone’s day.

  • This is a great way to move into a conversation too – if the speaker is in a group of people, you can use it as an in. Go up and introduce yourself to the speaker, tell them you liked their talk. Now you’re part of the group and can join the chat!

4. Bring your knowledges back to the office. This year’s ShipItCon is about the future of shipping software. This is a chance to be the beacon for your office’s DevOps roadmap – tell your colleagues what you’ve learned and what you should all be doing for the next few years. It’s a bit trite but no matter where you work; showing enthusiasm and the will to learn and grow are never bad things.

  • No matter your level, you’ll be able to contribute. Even if you put together one sheet of highlight points from the speakers you enjoyed the most – I promise people in your office will enjoy it.

5. Network!! As a recruiter, I shouldn’t be telling you this but most people will get their job through networking – via seeing a post from a connection on social media, through something like Discord/Slack, from a friend referring them into a job. Where will you meet loads of people who work in the sector you’re interested in? At an industry conference! Go talk to people. You don’t have to be looking for a job right now, go chat about industry stuff – why the latest Docker update is ruining your life. Where you buried the last person who pushed to prod on a Friday. Does anyone really enjoy Perl?

  • The experienced conference attendees always say that the real conference is in the hallways. People you meet and talk to, introductions made, ideas shared. Everyone is there to talk about shipping software so you’re not being weird by going up to introduce yourself to strangers!

6. Tweet loads and/or post on LinkedIn – if you don’t post thoughtful insights and gratuitous selfies from #DublinConferenceSummitCon, were you even really there? Sarcasm aside, it’s good to do a little push on social media – from a career perspective it’s good to be “seen”, from a social point of view; friends might be about the place somewhere to say “hi”. A bit of buzz on Twitter or whatnot adds to the atmosphere and culture of a conference. About half of any BSides event happens on Twitter!

  • Don’t be afraid to go solo. Loads of people go to conferences on their own and tweet something like “I’m at #ShipItCon, come say hi!”. If you are at ShipItCon alone, come to the nineDots stand and say hi to us! We’re very nice. 🙂

7. Enjoy the after party! It’s a great and informal way to chat with people in the software shipping industry. What I said about networking earlier – if you feel a bit weird and formal doing at the actual conference, this is a lot more chilled out. Don’t go overboard with the free booze though. You’ll be interacting with these people professionally over the years! You definitely don’t want to be the “remember the person who…” story told for the next year. There’s always someone who ends up going down in history for all the wrong reasons!

  • Don’t be afraid to only go for an hour or to stick to the soft drinks. Literally no one will mind if you’re drinking water or that you left at 9pm because you’re tired and all out of spoons. All part of a conference are optional!

There’s loads more that could be said but these are a few of the essential tips! ShipItCon is going to be a calm, chilled out, day for discussing what the future of DevOps and software shipping will bring. It’s easy to get bogged down in the day to day of your job and putting out the fire that happened today because Bob dropped a column on the production database.

Take the day, come along, and nerd out with your peers. Everyone will understand your pain! Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been here since DevOps was called “that weirdo crying in the server room”, you’ll be entertained! Tickets here and going fast (nearly half are gone already!)

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