5 Things Developers should do while they attend a conference

I am sure you attend events, meetups and conferences few times in a year. I do. I am a Developer Evangelist @ HP Helion and thus end up at lots of conferences and meetups. Here’s what I think can benefit the developer community.

1. Confer-Stalk

If you going to spend the next 2–3 days at a conference, you better spend few minutes finding out if there will be someone interesting here. I call it “confer-stalking”. The personal guard is always low here, and you can have amazing conversations with big shot CEOs, technical gurus or whoever you think is difficult to hold-off otherwise.

2. Take a problem which you might be facing at your work to discuss

A lot of conferences have technical workshops. I know for sure, because I deliver them. (for e.g. See my workshop details at OSCON and Velocity)

Go to them with problems you must be facing in your project. Most of the speakers love to hear real world problems and participate in white-boarding sessions right in the talk. You will be amazed how other attendees will join in your grief and feel your pain. Bonding time!

(Hopefully, I will see you in my next workshop with queries which we can solve together :) )

3. While.at.conference.do {Introduce, Ask, Listen, Contribute}

I am an Introvert. I still find it difficult to initiate a conversation. But my startup journey helped me overcome some of my fears.

I think some of the best discussions I have had at these conferences are with those who were standing aloof, or wandering around giving a signal that they want to talk, or someone trying to show that they are checking their email (but they are not).

That doesn’t mean that conversations with extroverts are not fun. But do not ignore the second half (and people like me).

And if you think you had a good time, get their email/ name/ phone so that “may be” you can stay in touch (more below in #5)

4. Stop at booths with an ask

Almost every conference will have an area with tons of marketing booths. Go there. The first question you should ask to the presenter : What do you do?

At a lot of these booths, you will find contract agencies who are brought in to deliver the marketing message. May be you don’t want to spend a lot of time with them digging up details, as they really can’t go deep. So, take your free t-shirt and leave! :)

But, if they are Product Manager, someone from support team or engineering, you can go deep. May be you can impress them and find your next gig at that company!

I always try to find companies with whom I can build prototypes on HP Helion — and so I put my agenda clearly when I talk. I have bunch of follow ups now to collaborate with some cool platforms out there to build my next killer “sample app” for my next talk.

5. Follow up and connect

Follow up just doesn’t mean “Hey, it was nice meeting you” email. If you think you had a great conversation with this person and you both “clicked” — trying meeting again. Stay in touch. Drop updates/ hi/ interesting stuff once in a while.

I have had amazing relationships evolved (and eventually got customers) which originated at conferences.