Thought Leadership: First-Time Attendees - What to Expect

Being a first-time attendee at any event can seem overwhelming. Luckily for those who are planning to attend SHARE San Jose, there is a First-time Attendee roadmap to help navigate through this exciting, educational event. 

Both Warren Harper, a staff specialist and product developer at BMC Software, and Holden O'Neal, a software developer senior associate in System Z research and Development at SAS, have attended past SHARE events. They know how to navigate through the multiple days of conference activities, and have lent some advice.

"SHARE can seem overwhelming sometimes — akin to drinking out of a fire hose," Harper said. “I definitely recommend taking some time to relax or have a power nap to regain your energy. Don’t feel like you have to attend a session during a certain time if none of them are relevant for you.”

O’Neal echoed Harper’s strategy by advising to only attend sessions that pique your interest the most. “If multiple sessions sound appealing, mark them down,” O’Neal said. “It is common for a session to not be what you expected, so having a backup session for each time slot is always a good idea. Look for sessions that interest you and relate to work you want to be doing first. SHARE is about broadening your horizons—take each session as a chance to do so.”

Harper added, “It is definitely recommended that you plan at least two sessions for each time slot — keep in mind that this isn’t a formal conference and you can certainly leave in the middle of a session if it’s not what you expected.”

While planning out your sessions, it is important to take note of networking opportunities as well. Both Harper and O’Neal credit the people with whom to network as a top reason SHARE events are so worthwhile.

“Even though the attendees at SHARE represent many different companies, at the conference it feels like we’re one big family,” Harper said. “You can expect a day full of technical presentations delivered by great speakers, an expo where you visit all the vendors and receptions where you can relax, mingle or find that expert you were looking for.”

Further, Harper advises to bring business cards to make exchanging contact information a quick and effortless task. “If you don’t have time to meet up with someone at the conference, you can always continue the conversation when you get back,” he said.

A SHARE event will offer a balance of technical and educational opportunities with exposure to people at the forefront of the industry. “You can expect to be surrounded by some of the sharpest minds in the enterprise IT community,” O’Neal said. “The technical sessions are delivered by experienced and knowledgeable speakers. In the midst of running from session to session, you’ll find enjoyable networking events as well as the Technology Expo where vendors are waiting to mingle with current and future customers about new technologies they are developing. Come ready to have fun, learn a ton and meet new people — it’s what [SHARE] is all about.”

O’Neal offers three key tips for first-time attendees:

  1. The week starts and ends in almost the blink of an eye — it’s good to remember to take yourself out of the whirlwind to collect your thoughts and re-evaluate your schedule on a consistent basis.
  2. Ask people around you where they are heading next. Perhaps this will highlight a session you did not have on your radar; don’t feel pressured to stick to your original schedule or sit through a session that isn’t what you wanted.
  3. Make a few new friends early in the week and meet up with them as the conference goes on. These onsite interactions are what set the groundwork for future offsite exchanges.

And perhaps most important of all: Don't forget to have fun at SHARE San Jose. Says O'Neal: "A SHARE event is a whirlwind of fun and knowledge; buckle up for the ride."

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