Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Maximize your ROI at the MySQL Conference

The MySQL conference is coming up. It's one of highest ROIs you can get for your training dollar. Just like anything else you do that is successful, plan on how you can maximize your attendance at a conference.

If you don't attend conferences on a regular basis here are a few things you can do to maximize your experience:
  1. Volunteer! Best way to meet new people and feel a part of the conference.
  2. Join! There are often Special Interest Groups (SIGs) or other groups within a conference that try to bring people with common interests together.
  3. Introduce yourself! Try to meet as many people as you can at the conference. Challenge yourself to meet as many people as you can as possible. Ask them questions like: What's the best presentation you've attended so far? Are there any speakers you really like and would recommend to someone new to a conference attend? What area are you focusing on at the conference? A conference is the best way to work on your communication and networking skills. Buy a book on networking and try some of the techniques. If you are new to the conference no one knows you, what do you have to lose? Ask them about what environments they are running? What challenges are they having with their technology?
  4. Attend get togethers! Every conference has breakfast, unconference and birds of a feather meetings and other ways to network. If one doesn't work out, don't get discouraged. Remember you don't know anyone there how can you make a mistake.
  5. Business cards. Bring business cards and everyone you meet give them a business card. Who knows, someone might even give you there card. :)
  6. Prepare! Get organized. There are tons of great books, blogs, and Internet information on 10 ten tips for introducing yourself, networking and socializing. Try them.
  7. Submit! Submit a presentation. Awesome way to expand your comfort level and for people to get to know you. Most important thing people want at a conference is to learn from other people's experiences. You don't have to be a top expert. Do not underestimate what you have to say?
I consider myself a pretty social person. However, I remember when I first starting going to conferences it was pretty lonely. I wasn't comfortable walking up and talking to people. The first birds of a feather meeting I went to, I walked in the door, everybody looked up at me, I froze and I walked out. I realized I was too shy but was too embarrassed to walk back in. It can get really lonely if it seems everybody else knows each other.

Since then I have ran different areas of a conference, been on expert panels, given key note presentations and been on board of directors for conferences. All of these things occurred because I was willing to push myself past my comfort zone and began to submit papers for presenting and to join different groups at conferences.

Networking is always rated first or second in terms of benefits for people that attend conferences. If you would like to increase your networking skills I would recommend you read the book "Million Dollar Networking" by Andrea Nierenberg. This will give you a lot of great ideas, recommendations and things to say to greatly increase your networking skills. You are going to spend thousands of dollars to attend the conference, why not spend another $30 and maximize the networking you can do.

Everybody attending a conference has been in your shoes. Go introduce yourself to volunteers or speakers. Ask them about ways to maximize the time at the conference and what speakers they like to see. All volunteers I guarantee you want you to have fun and enjoy the conference and they know what its like to go to a conference for the first time. Most importantly, find out if any MySQL instructors are around, they are some of the coolest, most enjoyable and high energetic people you'll find at the conference. :)


Baron said...

And while you're socializing, be sure to introduce yourself to Baron Schwartz (me!) so I can get to know you! I "meet" a lot of people over e-mail and IRC throughout the year, and it will be a true pleasure to meet each of you in person.

Unknown said...


I will look forward to meeting you at the conference myself.