What to expect, when you’re expecting (a trip to VMworld)

It’s that time again! I seriously look forward to #VMworld as a highlight of my year. It’s a time to refocus my career, reload my enthusiasm for the products I support and nerd out. Last year, attendance was something like 20,000. That’s a whole lot of brain power.

Here’s my tips and tricks gathered over 4 years of VMworld. If you’ve got any tips I’ve missed, hit me up on Twitter and let me know.

Things to absolutely do:

Talk to strangers (with a VMworld badge). The amount of experience at your fingertips at this event is unimaginable. When you’re standing in line, or at a bar, or you sit down for a meal, talk to the attendees. Put yourself out there and it pays 10x in return.

Attend more breakout sessions or panels instead of lectures.  In my ever so humble opinion, the lectures don’t hold near the value of participating in a discussion.  Key word is participate! Ask questions, drive the discussion. Go to the #VBrownbag sessions and talk.  Hang at the #VMUG booth.

Go to the after parties.  They’re fun, they’re a large portion of why you’re there and it’s a great way to meet interesting people.  The flip side of this one is Go to your sessions. There’s no one to watch you, your boss will never know, but you’ll miss out on so much of the conference if you sleep in.  Stay up with the boys, but get up with the men. (that’s gender neutral btw)

Dress appropriately.  Not just clothes, this includes personal hygiene. Let the neckbeard stereotype die.  Wear clean clothes, wear deodorant, clean yourself.  So much of this event involves close quarters.  Please don’t stink.  I wouldn’t mention it if it didn’t happen. Wear breathable, comfortable clothing.  Wear shoes you can walk all day in. If you need to, swing back to your room and refresh.

Drink and eat well.  Swing by CVS and get some snacks and water bottles or use the (probably lame) bottle that comes with the backpack. Buying water in the hotels is crazy expensive. Drink and eat well also means don’t try to hang with people that drink more than you.  Every year I end up making sure some young thundercat gets back to their hotel safely.  Drink up me hearty, but then drink a water.  1 and 1 will keep you safe(r).

Things to NOT do:

Don’t sit in your room and game. Do that at home. Get out there and invest in yourself during this short opportunity.

Don’t worry about swag too much.  Get a good amount, but that’s not why you’re there.  Bring some back for your teammates!

Don’t leave your actual work email tied to your badge if you can help it.  Go edit your profile and use a burner email.  Solarwinds has great swag, but they will hound you. You’ve been warned.

Don’t make this a solo event if you’re by yourself.  Go to the welcome event and create your own crew.  I’ve been hanging with the same amazing people I met 4 years ago and before that first night we’d never met.

Don’t forget, all of the sessions and the Hands on Labs will be available later in the year online.  If you need a break from everything, go knock out a lab but remember to keep networking.

Looking forward to seeing you all there!

 

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