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TechEd Readiness Checklist

Here are some of the things I’ll be packing that might also be useful for you as well:

TechEd North America (#msteched) is just next week in Orlando, FL.  This is my first TechEd and I’m excited to see what’s in store.  With any conference, it’s always best to be prepared.  You want to make sure you bring the right things and get everything done before you step foot on a plane.

Here are some of the things I’ll be packing that might also be useful for you as well:

  • Laptop – As a presenter this one is obvious.  However as an attendee, you might not want to lug one around.  It can be worth it though.  You will find that you want some type of computing device so that you can keep up on twitter, follow the latest gossip, and find out about any impromptu #SharePint events that might occur.  Maybe even read a few E-mails.  As a presenter, I get the distinct pleasure of carrying a second laptop as well with my demos loaded on it in the event of an emergency / disaster.  Disasters will happen.  At SPC11, my virtual machine pretty much died on my primary laptop and I had to resort to the backup just twenty minutes before my session.  I was sweating to say the least.
  • Netbook / Slate / Tablet – In lieu of carrying around your heavy laptop, I find carrying my netbook at conferences to be quite handy.  I can keep up on twitter, the battery will last me all day.  Bring whatever device or combination thereof you prefer, but keeping up on what’s going on at the conference using one of these small devices is much easier than trying to look things up on your phone.  This year, I am foregoing this because of the second laptop and my bag will be heavy enough.  I have access to an Apple device but I am thinking I will probably leave it behind because I don’t want the extra weight and I’m embarrassed to pull it out at a Microsoft conference. :)  You also can use these to fill out session evaluations.  There are usually incentives for filling out evaluations so I try to complete each evaluation right before the end of the session so I don’t forget.
  • AirCard – The wireless networks at conferences are rarely good.  They are jammed with geeks trying to post updates on Twitter and check out what’s happening on Facebook.  If you have access to a wireless AirCard, bring one.  See if your company has any that you can check out temporarily.  I still have my “temporary” AirCard I got for SPC11. :)
  • Cash – Just a little (more if you drink a lot :) ).  There are a lot of free events but you might go to something before or after the conference and I am not a fan of running tabs at busy restaurants and bars.
  • Chargers / Power Supplies – I remember when I went to PDC05, I forgot my laptop charger.  I was quite bummed.  Don’t forget the chargers to your laptop, netbook, iPad, phones, etc. I have gotten a few of these new emergency phone chargers at conferences lately and they are very handy here.  Especially when you have a Nokia Lumia 900 and the battery life is terrible.  Keep in mind your average day can be 16 – 18 hours plus and you don’t want to be left in the dark because your phone died.
  • Snacks – I got this idea from @TiffanyWI because she posted a picture of a mound of snacks.  It’s not a bad idea to have some snacks in the room after a late night.  A bag of M&Ms might look better for breakfast instead of one of those danishes no one ever eats after a late night too.
  • Bail Money – The Houston SharePoint Users Group has a running joke about always keeping a stash of bail money around when attending a #SharePint.  I’ve never been to TechEd before, but I have heard some stories so it’s probably not a bad idea.

Some other things you should remember to do before going and while at the conference:

  • Learn how to spell TechEd – This one has taken me months but I think I finally got it.  It’s TechEd with no spaces. :)
  • Set your schedule on myTechEd - This will make your SPC organizers happy when it comes to capacity planning.  You aren’t required to go to that session you schedule, but it will help you pick from the 10+ sessions going on at any given time slot.  Go to myTechEd and set your schedule now!
  • Create your Bio on myTechEd – myTechEd is a great way to plan your conference experience.  Take a few minutes to write about a little bit about yourself.  Include where you work if you want along with what you want to get out of the conference.  Upload a picture of yourself to make things more personal.  Set your myTechEd profile now.
  • Arrange for Ground Transportation - Don’t forget to arrange for ground transportation.  You really don’t need a car once you get to Orlando, but you do need a way to get there.  I haven’t checked into shuttle service yet, so I’ll probably just go with a Taxi.
  • Create a #msteched Search in Twitter – There is no question you want to keep an eye on the activity of the #msteched hash tag.  You will find out about sessions, events, and it will generally give you an idea of what is happening at the conference.
  • Follow @TechEd_NA / @TechEd_Europe on Twitter – These are the official twitter account for TechEd.  This account often posts useful stuff about the conference.  I’ve also used it to ask questions or provide general feedback and I’ve had good luck getting a response.
  • Learn hash tags for the sessions you are attending – So I am not sure if TechEd is planning on using hashtags like SPC did, but they do have session codes that look similar so I could see them being used.  If so, learn the session codes that you are in and use them to talk about the session you are in on twitter.  Session code OPS338 looks like a great one. :)
  • Find out who is going from your area – it’s always great to have a friend to hang out with at the conference.  If no one you know is going, maybe you can make a new friend.
  • RSVP for Parties – There are a lot of them this year.  Many of them require that you RSVP or stop by a booth so be sure and find out before hand.  Pay attention to @TheKrewe and their web site.
  • Leave space in your bag – Between the conference materials and the vendors you are going to end up with a heap of product information, trinkets, and T-shirts.  Make sure you have room in your bag to bring them home.  Otherwise you’ll be hand carrying them on the plane or leaving things behind.  I screw this up every time and even when I think have enough space it’s never enough.  This trip will be especially difficult for me since I am traveling for another four days after the conference.
  • Don’t be afraid to leave for lunch – I’m not a huge fan of conference food and it rarely gets along with my diet.  Usually by the second or third day I am grabbing anyone I can find and going off-site.

That’s my list.  I’m sure there are other things to remember.  Do you have anything else to add?  Leave a comment.  This probably goes without saying, but if you are not on twitter, now is the time to join.  It’s the best way to keep up with what’s happening at the conference.

I’m also giving a session at this year’s conference and I would love for you to see it.

  • #OPS338Making the most of Search in SharePoint Online - I am beyond excited about this talk because I get to talk about Search and SharePoint Online in the same talk.  You might just be amazed at what you can do with Search in the cloud.  I’ve got some great demos built using Silverlight and the Search API that you will want to see whether you want to extend search off-premises or on-premises.

Enough with the shameless plug. :)  Get ready and I’ll see you at the conference.  If you’re into SharePoint, be sure and check out my TechEd Guide for SharePoint People.

You can follow me on twitter @coreyroth.

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Corey Roth, a SharePoint Server MVP, is an independent consultant specializing in Cloud technologies such as Azure and Office 365. He also specializes in mobile development. Corey serves as the product manager for two cloud-first mobile app platforms: BrewZap and HappenZap.

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