With all the buzz about the Microsoft SharePoint Conference this year, especially with the launch of SharePoint 2010, you may think that this would be a prime arena for someone like me to attend. It’s the premier event for SP2010, it’s the launch of a new era, everyone will be there, etc.
I’m not going. I could have gone if I wanted, but I explicitly told my boss that I’d resign if he sent me.
Let’s kill one myth right way: You just have to be there.
No, I don’t. The online coverage of the event is brilliant, with the EndUserSharePoint.com team doing live blogging, live broadcasts, live tweeting, and pretty much anything else you can put after live. When you’re stuck in a session in Vegas, I’ll be monitoring all the sessions at once, switching back and forth by the flick of an ALT+Tab. I’ll be able to view pretty much everything, regardless of my physical location. In fact, being there is likely going to be less informative than having decent filters on Twitter.
Do I get any earlier access to inside material if I’m there? No, I don’t. Well, perhaps a few hours, but then again, those aren’t the hours that will make or break my next year of SharePoint work. It may make sense for someone who wants to blog about the newest and coolest features, but frankly, I’m going to stay off blogging the first few days after SPC. Anything posted would be drowning in the mouth-diarrhea that the MVPs will suffer when they’re finally allowed to say SP2010 without clearing it with Dave Pae.
I’ve written pretty much everything I want about SharePoint 2010 already, since I’ve had non-NDA access to the bits for several weeks, so I’m in no rush to get anything out. right now, I’m content with exploring SharePoint Designer 2010 workflows for an upcoming USPJ issue, and dive into all the cool tricks that the old dog has learned.
So no cool information either, and no early-bird blog posting.
So what about the social aspect? Actually, that’s exactly why I wont be going. Everyone will be there. I’m scared to learn that over 7,000 people are attending. Well, I’m not scared of 7,000 people, I’m scared of wasting three days, plus travel across the globe, to be in a group about as personal as walking down a random street in a large city.
There are, perhaps, 10 people I’d travel around the world to meet, and chances are, you are also going to want to meet those 10 people. Can you imagine 7,000 people wanting to shake hands with Joel Oleson? He wouldn’t have time to spell his name, let alone talk to you in any meaningful manner. It’s just too much at once.
So, I prefer smaller and more personal conferences. I had the great privilege of speaking at SPTechCon in San Francisco earlier this year and I must say, I absolutely loved it. I met a lot of nice people, and everyone seemed to have time. True, they were rushing between the sessions, but the breaks were calmer, the reception was… I wouldn’t say intimate, but at least it wasn’t 7,000 people rushing over to Nintex to get their SWAG.
Here’s my advice, in the odd chance that you’re anything like me. Stay away from huge, monumental events like SPC, and stick with the less crowded conferences. Chances are, you’ll not only have time to talk to the speakers, but they’ll have time to talk to you too, and that kind of social event is a lot more valuable than being an ant in the anthill of SharePoint.
I haven’t had the chance to go to any SharePoint Saturdays yet. However, from what I’ve heard from the people who attend, there is a distinct difference from juggernaut conferences like SPC. No, it’s not in the amount of SWAG, nor in the people attending (you’ll often meet the same gurus at SharePoint Saturday as you would on SPC). The difference is in the feeling everyone has of being part of an event, not just being there.
Oh, yeah, and I’m definitely going to SPTechCon in February. Hope to see you there, and I will have time to talk to you 🙂
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