Inspired by poettersbetters' article on prepping for DrupalCon, I thought I would share a few tips of my own. I used to plan conferences professionally and I've seen a lot. There are people who show up and drag their way through the day, perking up only for coffee and snacks. There were also people who showed up and killed it--walking in with friends, learning a ton, leaving with new friends, handing out business cards left and right--it was like there were two conferences going on at the same time: one where everything was boring, terrible and isolating, and one where you were hanging out with friends and peers, revitalizing your network and generally having a great time. I suggest you choose to spend most of your time at the latter conference--you can always check out and go back to the terrible conference at any time.
Before the conference
- Plan your party schedule, at least a little. Trivia night is ridiculous and if you stay long enough, vendors will give you all the stuff they don't want to take home.
- Related: Leave room in your suitcase for swag.
- Add all the sessions you're interested in to your calendar. Make sure to look at the BoF schedule.
- Update your website & social media profiles. You're gonna be making friends. Many of the friends you make will start on Twitter so, you know, be up-to-date about it.
- Review your goals. For me, this is kind of a huge investment and I need to get some specific things out of it. Knowing what I want before I get there helps me make quicker decisions and saves me some thought-molecules. You will need those little thought-molecules, because DrupalCon is crazy. It is full of All the People, All the Sessions, All the Drinks, etc.
- Look suspiciously at everyone at the airport. There are very likely some Drupal types in your very midst! Look for clues: Beards, Drupal t-shirts, etc. Bonus: wear a drupal t-shirt to and from the con so people have an excuse to talk to you.
- Re-up your DA membership so the little badge appears on your actual badge. Cool kids support open source projects.
At the conference
- Bring a spare phone battery. ALL the wall plugs will be full, all the time.
- Bring a warm layer. Even in New Orleans.
- Coffee comes AFTER the keynote so be prepared.
- I've always liked Twitter, but DrupalCon made Twitter into a whole different experience. Use whatever your favorite social media app is and follow #drupalcon.
- Bring so many business cards and also a sharpie with which to write on them.
- Susan Rust is good. Jeff Eaton is good. MortenDK is good.
- Go to at least one BoF. Just do it. You will meet lots of people there and have an incredibly in-depth conversation that most people are totally disinterested in. They don't record them so this is your only chance. You don't even have to choose mine.
- Pantheon DOES have the best shirts.
- Go to the sprint. The first-time sprinter workshop is leaps and bounds better than it was the first time I went four years ago. Every time I go the sprint changes my understanding of my work, of how people collaborate with each other, and of what, exactly, open-source is.
After the conference
- Email everyone you said you would. Put them in your CRM (you have one, right?) and follow up. Because Drupal is more fun the more friends you have.
- Put some time in your calendar to revisit whatever issue you were working on at the sprint. I don't have any core commits yet but I assume it's like 200 times as cool as having the "I have edited documentation on drupal.org" line on your profile.
- Maybe stop drinking for a few days so your liver can recover.
Thanks to Siteground for giving me a free ticket to DrupalCon 2016!