Printed 2017/08/18 10:39AM

How to Attend a Tech Conference

By Jen McCown, 2010/08/04

I’m absolutely positive that I’m not the first to blog on this topic, but I haven’t seen anyone else say exactly what I want to say. So.

Hi! So, you want to come to a tech conference, like SQL Connections, TechEd, a free SQL Saturday, or the PASS Summit. Good for you, we really encourage people – especially novices! – to get out there and get educatin’.  What should you expect? What should you do?  No worries, SQL #Awesomesauce has you covered.

What’s it Like?

Big paid events, like Connections or PASS, are…well, big. And really really cool. You’ll register online, pay your fee, and get your introductory info. You can check schedules and sessions, speakers and bios, and extracurricular events online.  Go read some blogs about people’s experiences at the conference of your choice, and ask questions at will. 

On the day of or day before, show up and check in at the registration desk. There will be lots of people there to help and give directions, generally a provided breakfast and lunch, and a ton of sessions/demos/chalk talks/events to choose from, plus a big vendor floor where you can see cool demos and get some nice SWAG. 

Vendor area during the morning checkin

Smaller events like SQL Saturday are free – staffed by volunteers and funded entirely by sponsors. There may be a small charge to help cover lunch, but everybody is there because they want to be.  You’ll register online and, again, get your info on the main website and via email updates. Again, get online and read/talk about the upcoming event.  

On the day of, you’ll probably have a small registration area, vendor area, and 4-6 tracks of classes to choose from. There may be a keynote or a couple of special events, but the day is almost entirely dedicated to sessions.  Most SQL Saturdays have a wrap-up after, with raffles and thanks.

So, what do I do?

We (*ahem*) seasoned conference-goers take certain things for granted, so here are a few things you might want to know for your upcoming event.

Before the event:

On your way:

In sessions:

Through the day:

Hobnobbing at TechEd 2010

Get online after the event and blog/tweet/talk it up!

Happy days,

Jen McCown

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