“Microsoft Inspire has begun and a lot of exciting things are happening in Las Vegas today. With multiple talks scheduled to focus on intelligence and data, we will definitely be on the lookout for cool and exciting demos! Since I’ve attended several conferences, I’ve created a list of things I’m doing this first day of Inspire to ensure I make the day count. I hope they will be of use to you as well!”
Morgan is on the ground at Microsoft Inspire 2018 working the expo floor and supporting keynotes. She took some time out of her busy schedule to tell us how she plans to make her first day count at Inspire.
1. Get a map
With sessions running back to back, and the conference halls being quite large, it really helps to know the layout ahead of time. This year the Inspire Corenotes are being held at the T-Mobile Arena, and the Expo Floor is housed at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center (MBCC). Double the location, double the fun! And, double the potential confusion. Make sure to snag your maps when you check in so that you won’t miss a thing. I know that I will be keeping my Expo Floor map in my back pocket to ensure I am able to benefit from all these networking and partnership opportunities.
2. Plan out your sessions ahead of time
Now that you have your map in hand, take a look at the sessions schedule so that you can plan out who and what you want to see. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to get from the T-Mobile Arena to Mandalay Bay Convention Center. The last thing you want is to be huffing and puffing as you run into an important session! You’re likely to miss the first ten minutes of content just trying to catch your breath. Take detailed notes on who you are seeing (both company and speaker) and what you are hearing. If something peaks your interest you will be able to easily follow up later when you have more time.
3. Use the Expo hall and breakout sessions to network
The Expo hall is set up for Networking – so use it! Expo halls are usually organized by technology types, so once you find the booth that you’re looking for, take a moment to explore the other booths surrounding you. You’re sure to find similar companies and technologies that interest you. If you attend a session in which the speaker really grabs your attention, hang out for a few minutes after the conclusion. Speakers usually stay late for Q&A. It is a great opportunity to get to know them in a more intimate setting. If all else fails, jump on social media to connect with people you meet and see at the conference.
4. Attend the special events
A lot of the time the conference will have one or two nights with a special event planned. These are great networking opportunities, and sometimes you get to see amazing performers like Sir Elton John. Even though they are usually at the end of a long day of talking, walking, and Tweeting – you don’t want to miss these opportunities. Grab an extra shot of espresso and get out there! Today’s 5:00 PM Happy Hour in The Commons will be a lot of fun!
5. Remember to eat and stay hydrated
My friend, Richard Thomson, recently gave me some valuable advice, “Conferences aren’t sprints. They are marathons! You need to pace yourself.” Plan time to eat in your schedule, and if someone offers you water take it. Between all of the walking and all of the talking, you’ll be glad you did. Bring a reusable water bottle to stay hydrated. There are usually water dispensers available throughout the conference.
Conferences can be so much fun and there is a lot of cool information being shared. It might be challenging to pack everything in. But, by knowing the layout, planning out your schedule, networking productively, and taking care of yourself – you will walk away feeling truly inspired and motivated.