The BIWA Summit Jan 9-10, 2013 registration opened last week. Take a look at the BIWA Summit website here. Registration starts at $299 for IOUG members ($349 for non-members). To make the most of the event, plan to stay at Hotel Sofitel where the event will take place. This will allow you to take full advantage of the off-hour events and networking with Professionals from North America and other countries like UK, Belgium and so on...
Here I would like to quote a few pointers from Tom Singer's article recently published in a magazine. Tom is a "Network Catalyst" who I met in a CIO event a few years ago... His 10 Tips to maximize the Conference-Networking experience go as follows:
1) Create a Plan - Have a game-plan ahead of time about what kind of people you want to meet and get to know. If for e.g. I am working on an OLAP project, I would perhaps like to meet experts like Dan Vlamis, who is one of the top experts. I may look for some customers who recently implemented OLAP. Likewise, meeting OLAP like like Bud Endress, would be high on my list.
2) Bring plenty of Business cards - I am no longer 29 and my memory is no longer that sharp! Exchanging business cards is a an easy way to remember who all we met and how to get back to them. I often take small notes on the back of the card to remind the context of the conversation. Most important, people are sometimes humble and may not tell their designation. Often, I look at the card and I am amazed that I may be talking to a VP of a mid-sized company or a Director of Development at Oracle. Likewise, if you are talking to an end user/functional user, you may tailor your level of conversation to business terms.
3) Do not just focus on meeting Celebrities / Keynote speakers - The Keynote speakers / Celebrities may get a lot of people who just shake hand and hand over the card without giving them a chance to really remember the meeting. However, some conferences will allow you to setup one-on-one meetings with the Execs ahead of time or with an on-site sign-up sheet. Focus on meeting others as well, who may spend more time talking informally with you.
4) Talk to People Sitting Next to you - You might make best friend with the person sitting next to you, during lunch, birds-of-a-feature lunch table, or in the hotel lobby who has the similar conference badge as you. If you came early to a presentation, say hello to the person sitting next to you to strike a conversation.
5) Don't hide behind the Blakberry, iPhone or iPad - As Tom Singer says, when you look at your BB in a public place, you automatically wear a name tag "I am too busy to talk to you!" If you need to check emails, take break away from the crowd, and do that in privacy not right next to the coffee table.
6) When to Linkin when Not - A two minute conversation or card exchange should not automatically result in Linkedin invite.. unless you explicitly told the person you would...best to follow up such meetings with a casual email after the Summit and then ask if ok to "connect socially."
7) Read their Stuff - You might have met a prolific blogger (aka Mark Rittman), read it and learn about them, after meeting.. simple google may reveal a lot about people these days.
8) Introduce Others - I often find myself introducing people to others that may be of interest to them. For e.g. a person comes to me and tells me they are in process of deciding whether they should move to Exadata X3 from V2 right away or later... I would introduce this person to Abe Tong from Facebook who can narrate his personal experiences in doing the same.
9) Follow-up - If you take all the cards and throw it in a bag that you will accidentally discovered 2 yrs down the road, that is no good! Follow up after the event, is important, whether by email, phone call or a hand written note.
10) Do more than others expect from you - I like this tip the most... ask yourself "What do I bring to the table?" When you make a new friend, try to bring more to the relationship than you expect from the other person and that may create a lasting impression!
If you havn't yet registered for BIWA Summit, waste no time and click here.