Survival Tips for your Next Agile Conference

By: Liza Ridgway, Sr. Director of Agile Services


Our team attends most of the Agile conferences around the country and they have become quite “good” at it. Right now, as I type, we are in the middle of Agile 2016 in Atlanta, representing as a Gold Sponsor. Looking around, we see some attendees who might benefit from some of our expert advice. If you are currently attending or planning to attend your first, second or third conference, you might want to take a look at our top survival tips. You’re welcome.

conference

Sessions get sold out

Pick your top choices and register if you can or get there early. Don’t always go for the “big names” as last year lots of people shared the disappointment that some of the famous folks were giving basic guidance.

Like first books – look for the new presenters

Their content has to be really strong to make the cut to present. They have new perspectives.They didn’t get selected because of their name/notoriety.

Listen to others about topics/speakers

Pretend you are standing outside the NY Ticket booth; learn from the big line who is waiting to buy 50% off same day play tickets. It’s ok to eavesdrop or jump into conversations – they may be to your benefit.

Be Social

Remember that lots of the attendees are here by themselves or with work folks they might not want to spend every meal/after hour with exclusively. Jump into conversations especially when they relate to your role or expertise (that’s why people come – they want to meet and talk and learn).

Watch someone eat before you get your plate

Last year I had 2 people spit out moldy muffins in front of me, others lose a few pounds by going on hunger strike after first few meals –some of us regulars pack snacks in our backpacks. Generally, food at these events is good, but don’t automatically trust that fact!

Network!

For years, feedback from meetups and conferences has been “birds of the feather session are the favorites – we want to hear from people with similar struggles/challenges/needs”. There are so many opportunities to network. You will be tired at the end of the day but go to the mixers and parties.They can be the best times to meet and really talk about what’s important to you!

Get in some exercise

Anyone that knows me knows that I make time to get in 30-60 minutes of exercise even if I have to wake up at 6 or change/shower 2 times. Conferences are long. Like travel, you need to get your heart rate up and your body moving to keep going. Exercise won’t make you more tired – it will rejuvenate you. (I’ve been known to put sneakers and workout outfit in bag to squeeze in time between sessions!)

Be present at the talks

Forget your email or last conversation. It’s only a few days, but you might learn the one nugget that pays for your complete trip when you least expect it.

Keep your eyes out

Be on the look out for the open spaces and conference updates. Things will change and some of the self forming topics (open spaces) get the most interesting/new topics.

Prioritize

Make sure you that you go to and stay in the sessions that are the most meaningful to you. Sit towards the back if it is not what you wanted to hear about. You paid, you want to learn. Don’t stay if it’s not worthwhile.

Motherly Advice

As a Mom, I have to end with – Agile community is small and this event is only a few days. Every morning is way too early with long days and nights. You don’t want to wake up hung over or worse than that – miss a meeting or key session. Enjoy the parties but remember that it’s going to be a long night and “party like an Agilestar – always improving on how you can relax, have fun, network and still feel great at 7am!”

Good luck with your next Agile conference, I’m sure our team will see you there! Be sure to come by and say “Hi!”.