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Do you have any "Tips for Lotusphere Newcomers"?

Fri 15 Dec 2006, 11:33 AM

by Ben Langhinrichs
Over on the Notes.Net forums (or whatever they are called now), Anita Myers posted a question that has certainly been asked before, but is relevant every year:
I am going to Lotusphere in January for this first time.  I was looking for any advice, hints, tips, etc. that seasoned veterans can offer.  My main concern is how the sessions work.  I've looked at the agenda and I'm a little overwhelmed.

Thank you for any insight.
In previous years, I would have sent her over to the Gonzo Lotusphere site, but, frankly, Turtle has gotten a little tired of all of this Lotusphere, and he has carried the ball for a long time.  I thought maybe I could pick up the slack a bit and add a Tips for Lotusphere Newcomers page in the sessions database, but rather than write just what I think, I thought I'd open it up a bit.  What suggestions do you have?  Comfortable shoes is almost always #1, but what else do you suggest, particularly (given the focus of the sessions db) what advice to help somebody pick amongst the astounding and almost scary selection of sessions, labs and opportunities?

Copyright 2006 Genii Software Ltd.

What has been said:

533.1. Charles Robinson
(12/15/2006 11:26 AM)

My biggest recommendation would be to plan your day smartly by referencing the conference room floorplans. Running from SW to DL constantly isn't as easy as it looks on paper. It can be as much as half a mile between conference rooms and you have to navigate stairs/escalators and large crowds of people.

Ben, what would you think of adding the floorplan graphics to the database? The ultimate would be to offer a mapping option that would give turn by turn directions. ;-)

533.2. Mike
(12/15/2006 12:05 PM)

Also it is helpful to not only mind the location like Charles says, but also plan out a 'second' choice session for each timeslot -- and also keep track of upcoming scheduled repeats of sessions. Then you'll be prepared if rooms are overcrowded or some other obstacle to your primary choice arises.

533.3. Susan Bulloch
(12/17/2006 07:05 AM)

Dunno where I picked this up - at the turtle's site originally I think - but you don't need just one pair of comfy shoes, but two. You feet will do a lot of work, and they like a little break now and then.

533.4. Curt Stone
(12/18/2006 09:15 AM)

I find it difficult each year to decide which sessions to attend. This year I'm trying to be practical and attend sessions I believe will help me for the upcoming year. I know I'll be enticed to check out sessions on Notes 8, but what are the chances I'll be working in Notes 8 next year? Slim at best. I'm concentrating on the speakers I like and the material I need for next year.

533.5. Joe Litton
(12/18/2006 10:55 AM)

Conf rooms are sometimes C-O-L-D... Florida winter weather can vary wildly, so trekking to another building can feel a tad warm. Dress in layers ...light shirt, but have a jacket handy.

LOTS of folks get sick at Lotusphere each year (or arrive already sick). Staying up late and getting up early doesn't help. Last year I brought a bunch of AirBorne and took it and Vitamin C a couple of times a day, drank lots of water, tried to get to bed at a semi-decent hour, and held the coffee down to 2-3 cups a day. This all seemed to help me stay healthy for the entire week.

533.6. The Prince
(12/19/2006 09:04 AM)

Water. Lots of water. Bring a Nalgene, fill it up regularly. I haven't been to Lotusphere, but in other conferences I've been to I've always wished I'd brought water. Some small snack bars to carry in your pockets is a good idea - a lot of fatigue comes from a low blood-sugar, especially in conference type events, and even a Nutrigrain or a granola bar can help a lot (and prevents embarassing naps).

533.7. Scott
(12/27/2006 09:22 AM)

You don't have to bring your own water. The morning and afternoon "coffee" breaks also have water, juice and soda. You can always stick an extra bottle of "Lotusphere" water in your backpack (hopefully it's a cool backpack) to carry with you. There will be morning and afternoon snacks too, in addition to lunch. There is always plenty to eat and drink, but just be sure not to miss the designated coffee breaks or lunch periods. The hotel staff have been known to take the coffee and snacks away before the break time is over. As always, get there early for best selection.

Be sure to carry as little as possible with you throughout the day. Overloading your backpack will cause major pain to your shoulders, back and feet.

Be sure to bring business cards to exchange with interesting people you meet during the conference. Lotusphere is a a great opportunity to meet people who can become great friends and professional colleagues for many years to come. All of the brightest and best in the Lotus Software community will be at LS. Don't be afraid to strike up conversations during appropriate down times--just not in the middle of sessions.

Don't be the guy/girl who doesn't put their cell phone or pager on vibrate during LS. And God forbid, do not even think about answering the phone in the middle of a session. You will be ostracized by your fellow geeks.

Don't worry if a session is full that you really wanted to see. If it is that popular, it's likely to be repeated. The previous comment to always have a "secondary session" planned is a great idea. Be sure to schedule time to experience things other than sessions during the conference. Allow yourself the time for the vendor showcase, labs, hands-on sessions, BOFs, vendor-sponsored parties/events, just chatting with your fellow geeks, etc. If there is really a product or vendor you want to see in the product showcase, the Monday night product showcase event is typically not the best time to do this. That night the showcase is flooded with conference geeks competing to see who can get the best tsotchkes or have their badges scanned the most.

Also, limit the amount of time spent working or communicating with the co-workers back home. Your at one of the best technical conferences, it only lasts for 5 days, so be sure to use the time wisely.

Last, but certainly not least, HAVE FUN. You have to try pretty hard not to socialize and have a good time, but it can be physically and mentally exhausting. Be sure to stay until at least Friday morning and don't try to rush back into the office that Friday. You'll miss the closing session, which is usually less crowded and far more entertaining than the Opening General Session. Take the weekend to unwind from the 'Sphere and show up back in the office on Monday.