As you may know FileMaker DevCon 2011 is just around the corner. In honor of 2011…and FileMaker Pro 11, here’s our list of Top 11 Tips for DevCon ’11:
1. Bring a sweater
Those hotels are known for cranking up the A/C. Take a comfortable layer that you can slip on and off easily to ward off the shivers as you’re sitting all morning.
2. Don’t expect to find any outlets in the conference rooms
If you’re lucky enough to have a second battery, bring it! Maybe you’re thinking of bringing an extension cord. I’m not going to discourage you, but don’t tell the fire marshall it was my idea.
3. Get a schedule
You can get a copy of the schedule in several forms. There’s the conference binder, of course. But, c’mon … this is a technology conference! Try downloading the schedule in iCal format from SeedCode or download FileMaker’s official DevCon2Go Scheduler for, you guessed it, FileMaker Go or FileMaker Pro. DevCon2Go boasts schedule filters, presenter-based views, in-system evaluation forms and even Twitter integration!
4. Tackle one or two big questions
It’s easy to leave a conference with way too much information and nothing to do with it. Determine ahead of time what you’re going to tackle — something important or exciting to you right now — and learn everything you can about that topic. You’re also likely to find a vendor or fellow developer who has encountered the same issue you’re mulling over. Have your questions and ideas ready!
5. Don’t feel like you have to go to every session
There’s so many exciting ideas being presented at DevCon, it can be tempting to pack your schedule with session after session. Don’t do it! You’re not likely to remember half of what you hear. You’re much better off focusing on a few primary themes and building relationships. Those relationships may carry on long after you’ve forgotten what you heard in the last session. Plus, you’re likely to learn even more from one great discussion than you are from a generic presentation.
6. Find out who the popular speakers are
You may still be interested in particular topics, which is great. But make a point to find some speakers that interest you as well. Some people have enough knowledge and/or teaching ability that the topic is irrelevant; you’re sure to learn either way. Ask around if you’re not sure who those people might be for you.
7. Seek conversations
The FileMaker community is incredibly friendly. Don’t be afraid to say “Hi”, even to the people who appear to be the big shots. This conference is as much about establishing relationships as it is about sharing information. And remember your business cards.
Another great resource is the topic tables. Sometimes they’ll have signs posted on the tables indicating that everyone who sits there is interested in a given topic. They’re a great way to meet people with common interests.
8. Embrace the Law of Two Feet
Wikipedia defines the Law of Two Feet:
If at any time you find yourself in any situation where you are neither learning nor contributing: Give greetings, use your two feet and go do something useful. Responsibility resides with you.
That isn’t intended to imply that it’s not worth sticking around through difficult situations and awkward conversations. The point is that we all bear personal responsibility for making the most out of this conference. If you find yourself in a session that isn’t exactly what you expected, politely walk out and find something else to do.
This may be a controversial idea, but it’s not a new one. In all fairness to the presenters, please sit near the back if you’re not sure that you’ll be staying. And fill out an evaluation to provide proper feedback, even if it’s just to clarify why they saw someone walking out on them (e.g., was the session description misleading?).
9. Fill out your evaluations
This is a great way to say thank you to your presenters and help make the conference better. Be sure to fill out the survey before the session ends and it’s time to dash out to the next session. If the session is timed well, the right time to evaluate will be just as the presentation moves into Q&A.
10. Use Twitter to keep up on current happenings
FileMaker’s official hashtag is #FileMakerDevCon. You’ll see people sharing cool ideas, sparking informal sessions and announcing meetups at local restaurants. You can even use DevCon2Go to track Twitter hashtags. Jump in and join the conversation, and tweet what you learn. When the conference is done and everyone has gone home, Twitter will still be there connecting you!
11. Exhibitors are your friends
Let’s be honest, exhibitors are trying to make money … naturally. But you’ll find that many of their products are designed to solve your problems. And almost all of them are at DevCon because they love FileMaker and its community. So find someone that could help you and strike up a conversation. @HOnza24U has some great tips below for how to get the most out of exhibitors.
Our beez would love to see you at the Beezwax booth. You might be interested to see what’s cooking in the next release of Inspector.
There you go. Hopefully we’ll see you at the Beezwax booth at DevCon. As always, drop a line in the comments (or via Twitter), especially if you have a tip of your own.
See you at DevCon!