This past weekend, I spoke at St. Louis Days of .NET. It was my second time attending and also my second time speaking there. It’s a great conference. I enjoy the location and the people. The drive isn’t always fun, but this year my wife & kids came along, so that was nice.
As we were leaving the conference and heading home yesterday, my wife & I started talking about how I hate when people ask me what I learned at a conference. I dislike it because it’s rarely something I learned in a particular session. For example, I watched a session on Ember. It was good, the presenter was engaging & energetic. He knew is information, but by-and-large, I didn’t really learn anything I didn’t already know about EmberJS. And that’s ok.
I did learn about the audit tab in Chrome dev tools. I also learned how Hadoop got it’s name. I learned a couple other bits of trivia, we’ll say, at the conference. But to me, it’s not about the sessions necessarily.
I spent 2 days with people that love technology. I hung out with people that are passionate, not only about coding, but about helping other people get better at coding. I was able to “network” with a lot of people. And that was great. I now have connections to more people which lets me see more of what is going on in the industry.
The best part about the networking is that you don’t have to be a speaker to do it. I spent about 30 minutes in the speaker room this time. During that time, I was IMing my team back home asking them how their PRs were going and looking at some things in code. Once that was done, I left (and that was in part due to the political discussion going on in the speakers room.) The night before, when I hung out with the speakers at the speaker party, I stayed pretty much with people I already knew.
My point is, speakers are just like everyone else. Even the guys that have a full room or standing room only are more than eager to talk to you. It’s why we do this, we love talking about technology.
So what did I learn? I don’t quite know yet, ask me again in 8-10 months once I get a better feel for how my network grew & changed this weekend.