Have you been lucky enough to attend a tech conference? I’ve done a few, and many of my colleagues have as well. They can be awesome: you get out of work, learn some new skills, meet some new people, have a few drinks…
But they can also be terrible. For the most part, you get some good ones and some bad ones, but we all know there are certain things you’re going to eventually run into which will make you want to snap your laptop in half.
Sometimes you can meet some really interesting people at your panels. You’ll exchange business cards, maybe follow each other on Twitter. Those people can become good contacts! Maybe you’ll get a job through them one day, maybe you’ll seal a deal for your own company through that relationship. Just be careful to avoid networking with “that guy” (see below).
Get Work Off –
Even if the rest of the day is a bust, you can say you were pursuing professional development opportunities and no one can bat an eyelash at you. SCRUM board, I am free from you today!
Everyone loves swag. Give me some t-shirts and pens and bags and whatever else you have. I’ll be a walking billboard for you in exchange for some free stuff.
(Sometimes) Free Beer –
Some conferences hand out the post-game beers when it is all said and done. You learned something. You survived the day of education and hype. Now toss a couple back with your newfound friends and talk about how crazy the non-developers are.
Crummy Wifi –
Has anyone ever attending a tech conference with good wifi? If so, I want to go to this magical unicorn conference where I have no issues. If it’s free, then it’s slow and requires me to sign up for marketing junk. If it works well, some fancypants hotel you can’t expense anyways (because you’re a developer and not an exec) wants me to pay 20 bucks a day or some absurd thing just to access it.
Marketing BS –
Not a dig at marketers so much as a commentary on the event design. I’m here at your conference to learn about how this stuff works and how I can apply it. I’m not here to hear your SVP of OMGHYPE talk about how they’re changing the world with the technology. It’s great that you claim your tech can turn dirt into gold and has saved more lives than anyone could ever count, but I really just want to figure out if it works. Also, your music selection as you walk on stage is overkill. You’re not a pro wrestler.
“That Guy” –
You’ve survived the marketing BS, maybe your wifi is working even. You’ve installed the libraries you need and you are ready to roll with some hands on training. Then “that guy” shows up and rains on your parade.
You know the guy I’m talking about. He’s the one who immediately raises his hand as the session starts and talks about how he’d do it. He is the guy who will argue with the presenter about the architecture of the tech. He is the guy who is convinced he is the smartest guy in the room and wants everyone to know it. He is the guy who ensures you learn nothing of value. You get together a room full of engineers and there will always be one. Everyone else can only sit there and roll their eyes.
Stale Bagels –
Don’t forget bad coffee. You will have a lousy continental breakfast and you will not complain because you’re not paying for it. Or you will be like everyone else and grab Starbucks on your way there and just ignore the “food” table all together.
(Sometimes) No Free Beer –
Above, we talked about how good conferences have free beer. Well, some conferences do not provide free beer, which is a shame. Let this serve as notice to those conferences – developers
want, need beer!