With this year’s US Atlassian Summit taking place in just a few days at the San Jose Convention Center in sunny California, the answer has to be yes! The event takes place 12 – 14 September and once again Atlassian have jam-packed their conference schedule with enticing and inspiring sessions from industry professionals as well as news on the latest product innovations to keep your business ahead of the game.
As with any conference, there’s a whole stack of new information to take on board, tons of potential new people to meet and you’re bound to come away buzzing with a host of new ideas – not to mention great swag. If you’re a seasoned conference goer, no doubt you’ll have your own tried and tested tips to get the most out of Summit but if not, here are some tricks to keep you smiling all the way from 6am pre-registration Yoga sessions (yes, really) through to the post-Bash come down.
Before you go...
Plan ahead! It may seem obvious but you can’t afford to skimp on your prep. Registration fees, travel and accommodation are significant outlay so, before you even step on the plane or train to the event, it pays to take some time planning how you are going to invest your time once there. Conferences are vast and you can be sure you’re going to have to hit the ground running with no time to stop and catch your breath once you’ve arrived at the event.
Check out travel arrangements from your accommodation to the venue – all too easily overlooked, especially if you are travelling from abroad and have been concentrating on your journey to the airport and onward travel to where you will be staying. Make sure you know how long it will take to get the venue and if you can, get a good night’s sleep the night before so you can arrive looking fresh and professional.
Review the agenda. Think about what learning you want to take away from the conference and use the agenda to prioritise sessions and design a plan that meets your learning goal. Atlassian have a handy app to download to help you build your very own conference schedule.
Familiarise yourself with the venue layout to get your bearings so you know exactly how to get to where you want to be and arrive on time. If you can’t download a map in advance, Atlassian will have team members on hand who will be able to help. They don’t bite, trust me.
Read the list of exhibitors in advance and prioritise the ones you wish to speak to so you have a shortlist. Plan your visits to the Expo hall to fit around the times of the sessions you have prioritised as the ones you will be attending.
Find out who’s going. If there is someone in particular who is going who you’d like to catch up with, reach out to them in advance and ask to book some time into their calendar. Much easier to do it this way rather than trying to co-ordinate things on the hoof when the conference is in full swing; chances are you’ll both have other calls on your time once the event is underway. Why not drop us a line now at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know if you are coming?
Set up your out-of-office reply. Yep, it’s a work event and you’ll be checking your work email anyway. But you won’t be able to check in as often or as timely as you would normally. Make it easier on yourself and let your customers know that you have limited access to your emails and they might not hear from you for a certain length of time, be it a few hours or a few days.
Prep your social media. People are likely to look you up online either at or after the event once they’ve met you in person. Make sure there is a professional welcome waiting for them across all your platforms.
Take the right stuff with you. Phone and powerbank, laptops, charger...and don’t forget travel plug adaptors if you are travelling abroad. And, although they may seem outmoded in today’s digital age, business cards are essential. Chances are you are going to ask everyone you meet for their card, so be able to reciprocate and take plenty of your own. You never know who you will meet.
Look online for live-streams and tell your colleagues about them if they are not able to attend in person this time. Click here to sign up.
Now you’re there....
Register early. This way you can minimise time spent queuing and maximise your time to stay ahead of the game, learning and sharing ideas with people.
If you are attending as part of a group split up and attend different sessions to optimise on the learning you take away from the conference. Plan to catch up at lunch or at the end of the day to review new insights and perspectives you have gained and exciting contacts you have met.
Reinforce relationships. Summit is the one place where Atlassian staff and solution partners will all be under one roof and is the perfect opportunity to bounce your ideas off experts and get advice on the solutions you need. Even a casual chat in the queue for coffee may spark an idea of how you could do things differently to give your business the edge.
Make the most of social media. Conferences are not just about content; the people you will be attending with are just as important. You will be with hundreds of like-minded people, all of whom are using the same tools as you to achieve similar goals. Summit is a great opportunity to share ideas and make new friends. Reaching out to people is even easier thanks to the in-built messaging in the Atlassian conference app.
You can also use the dedicated Twitter hashtag #AtlassianSummit to join in the wider conversations that will be happening. And, of course, don’t forget to get the most out of other platforms. Facebook and LinkedIn are great for reinforcing connections with people you’ve just met and don’t forget Instagram for your photos – especially of all that lovely swag you’ve grabbed.
Be approachable. For all that’s good about social media, don’t stand in the corner glued to your phone. Look up and around and smile – more than likely someone else will be feeling slightly awkward and be glad to see a friendly face in the crowd to strike up conversation with. It’s also a good idea to practise introducing yourself in one sentence – chances are you’ll be doing it a lot and the more you do it, the easier it gets.
Make sure you attend keynote sessions. Not only is this an easy way to keep up to speed with the latest innovations and product news from Atlassian but you will also have your chance to ask the co-Founders and CEOs all your burning questions (link to keynote schedule). Keynotes don’t clash with breakout sessions so you don’t have to worry about missing out on anything.
Ask questions in the Q&A sessions. I know. But...we’ve all been there. Put shyness aside and remember that you’ll be doing everyone a favour, including the speaker.
Stay organised. Make sure you keep track by writing down new ideas you’ve come across and ways of using products that you might not have thought about before; perhaps make a note of them on the back of the business card of the Atlassian partner you spoke to who can help implement these ideas and products. A notebook is a great idea of keeping track of notes you’ve made but make sure you remember to date your entries and note conversations down under separate headings to keep things clear and concise. Or, if you are more digitally-minded, try an app such as Evernote to tag your notes and make them searchable by name, topic or date.
Once you get back...
So, it’s all gone to plan and you’ve come away having had lots of inspiring conversations with interesting and influential people, a bunch of swag and some hazy Bash memories – great! But don’t waste those precious contacts and opportunities; this is where all that note-taking pays off.
Review your notes immediately you are back in the office. Reflect on what you have learnt and write it down to capture your insights. You could consider:
- The one thing you learnt that had the most impact on you
- What you need to implement right away
- What you learned that you need to implement over time
- What you discovered and want to know more about
Use your responses as a framework to identify the changes you need to make and create an action plan.
Share what you have learned with your colleagues who were not able to attend the conference. And remember, if you need to recap on something you heard or saw at a session, check out the Atlassian channel on YouTube to see if videos of the sessions are available to view.
Chris Bland, our CEO, and I will be at Summit 12 – 14 September – if you are coming, let us know. Drop us a line at email@example.com and let's meet up. We’d love to see you there!