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We are just a little over a month away from the 2020 Atlassian Summit in Las Vegas. I’m super excited as this will be my second opportunity to attend this amazing event! At about this time last year, I was preparing my schedule for my first Summit attendance and I didn’t know what to expect or how to properly prepare for what I was about to be exposed to. I thought I’d share a few tips from my experiences last year that might help you make the most of your Summit experience if this is your first time attending.
A little bit about me first. I am and have been the solo admin supporting about 150 users at my company. Until I started the local Atlassian User Group the one that existed in my town was sporadic and didn’t offer my help or support. I’m introverted, large groups of people make me uncomfortable and interacting face to face with people I have never met before can make me very anxious. That being said, my goal for last year was to force myself out of my comfort zone so that I could start to make some connections with like minded people so that I have an “Atlassian Support Network” of people I could get help from when I hit a roadblock and can’t figure out on my own.
I can’t stress this point enough! Last year the mobile app was made available about a week in advance of the Summit. I downloaded it and discovered just how active people were on there even before the Summit had started. Before, I even left for Vegas last year, I had already received some advice about configuring our Bamboo server and I was given a reference and booth number for a vendor that specializes in Bamboo configurations to go and talk to. The mobile app also allowed an easy way to build your schedule with push notifications so that at any point during the Summit you know what you are planning to do and where to be at any given time. Each presentation had a rating and feedback section so that you could rate and express how useful you found each session to be so that Atlassian can continuously improve the quality of the presentations that are delivered at the Summit year over year. It also provided an opportunity to find other attendees with similar (non)work-related interests so that you could meet up with other attendees once Summit activities were finished for the day.
When I started building my schedule (and the full schedule is now available https://www.atlassian.com/company/events/summit/schedule). I ignored the expo hall, assuming it was going to be nothing more than a bunch of vendors performing sales pitches for their products or services. I was wrong! If you speak to the vendors, they are Atlassian product expects first and foremost. If you are looking for best practices, they will do their best to help you before even showing you what it is that they are there to showcase. The Expo Hall also has booths setup up for each of the Atlassian product offerings with Atlassian experts present to help you with challenges you are having using any of those products. It was here that I had some amazing interactions with the Atlassian team getting advice about how to best use some of the applications with advice tailored specifically to my company’s environment.
It is very easy to find a corner and sit by yourself, but you won’t really learn much sitting in the corner. Some of the best conversations I had last year were simply by joining an existing group of people at a table for a meal. Everyone I encountered was extremely welcoming and listening to how our customers were using the various products or sharing what apps they were using that helped solve business challenges I was also encountering was invaluable.
I know it’s a work conference, and you already have people poking fun at the fact that it’s in Vegas so “How much work are you really doing?”. I can say that from my experiences last year I probably put in about a 10 hour “workday” attending sessions, taking notes, interacting with Atlassian employees or panelists and then documenting everything for my co-workers back home. It really was a lot of work, at the same time there are several social/fun opportunities for you to get involved in as well and I would strongly encourage you to take part!
I hope these small, simple pieces of advice will help make your first Summit an amazing experience, and please feel free to connect with me on the Summit mobile app I’d love to say hi in person at the Summit!