Getting the Most out of Firebase Summit

The third Firebase Summit is just two months away. Hundreds of developers from around the world will get together in Prague on October 29th to learn how Firebase helps mobile app teams of all sizes across the entire development lifecycle, from building your app, to improving app quality, to growing your business. You can still request an invitation, and I encourage you to do so if you haven’t already.

If you’re a regular conference-goer, you most probably have your own expert list of tactics on how to make the most of an event and I’d love to hear your tips in the comments. If not, don’t worry — I’ve got your back with a few tried-and-true ways to do it right.

Before the event

Prepare. Prepare. Prepare.

Connect with fellow attendees and speakers on asymmetric social media

Use the #FirebaseSummit and #BetterTogether hashtags on Twitter in the days and even weeks leading up to the event to participate in the conversation. There is a dedicated channel (#firebasesummit) in the Firebase Slack group for the Firebase Summit attendees, make sure to spend some time there as well. If you see someone who looks interesting, drop them a quick message. Here are some conversation starters:

  • Have you been to any previous Firebase Summits?
  • Which sessions are you particularly excited about?
  • Do you know anyone else going to this event?
  • Planning to attend any co-located (aka satellite) events, e.g. GDG DevFest CZ?
  • Coming a few days in advance to explore Prague and want to meet for a drink?

If you do this well, you could start enjoying the networking benefits long before the event begins.

Polish your elevator pitch

I know, I know… Firebase Summit is not a sales meeting. However, you’re still going to meet some new people. So take a moment and practice your brief introduction aka “elevator pitch”. You really want to feel comfortable and be prepared when people ask “So what do you do again?”.

Simply practice a short 10-second version (around three sentences) and a longer version of about a minute. Make sure it’s clear, descriptive, and emotional. Rehearse it in front of a mirror. Don’t forget to smile 😊 Remember, however, to never pitch your startup unless you’re asked, otherwise, you’ll quickly alienate yourself from your fellow attendees and end the relationship before it even starts.

Make a plan you’re ready to change

Identifying actions that can only (or preferrably) be taken at Firebase Summit is essential. Figure out what you want to get out of the event, make a list of who you want to meet and what questions you want to ask, then find out where those people are and go ask them questions. Get some work done! It’s simple and very efficient.

However, don’t over-prepare. Make sure to not get lost in the massive task list, leave some space for flowing with whatever seems interesting in the moment. Sometimes, the less relevant things turn out to be the most interesting.

Install the social media & ride-sharing mobile apps

No networking opportunity is complete without social media platforms like Twitter or LinkedIn, so make sure you have the mobile apps installed on your phone and updated before Firebase Summit. If you meet an awesome fellow developer you really want to talk more with later, being able to pull up their Twitter or LinkedIn profile on the fly and connect with them can help you make the best of each interaction.

Once the after-party is over, you might need to call Uber to help you get to the hotel (note that Lyft isn’t available in Prague). So it might be a good idea to have the Uber app ready on your phone in case walking to your place is not an option.

Review the agenda

In the weeks leading up to Firebase Summit, make sure to visit the event website to explore what the agenda looks like, although times might be subject to change, so it makes sense to check back closer to the date. Set up your event game plan ahead of time and use the agenda to bring your plan (see above) to life. Find out who is presenting at each can’t-miss session to pinpoint what questions can be asked there.

Travel with other attendees

Ask around to see if anyone local is also traveling to Firebase Summit and wants to travel together. This way you can make a mini road trip out of it. Getting there is half of the deal.

Charge your phone

You can expect to use your phone a lot at Firebase Summit. So make sure you charge your phone before the event. Additionally, you can free yourself from the desperate search entirely by packing a portable charger (double check it’s charged, too) and carrying it with you at all times to keep your phone alive throughout the event, whether you need to take notes, a photo, check Slack, tweet something absolutely amazing or call Uber. This way you can avoid worrying about your phone not being sufficiently charged.

During the event

You’re here… now what?

Take actionable notes

During sessions, turn into the ultimate note-taker to make sure no important ideas or information get forgotten. Your notes will be a combination of the key session highlights, action items (e.g. apply to join the best testing group for the newly announced Firebase feature), people to connect with or reach out to, reading recommendations, quotes or just random ideas. Regardless of your note-taking format of choice (pen and paper, laptop, tablet or smartphone), try to collect the information in a way that makes it easy to access when the event is over. When you’re back home later, simply scan through your notes to review everything and prioritize your immediate tasks. One new idea can potentially change the way you approach all of your work.

Share your event experience on social media

Firebase Summit is the time to be present and active on social networks (even if you’re generally quiet). Here are the three levels of social media activity:

  • Hello and goodbye: Post once at the beginning (“Looking forward…”) and end of the event (“Here is my recap…”). Don’t forget the event hashtags.
  • Once per session: Wait for the best moments (e.g. memorable quotes) from every session and post them with a photo and the event hashtags.
  • Throughout the event: Win at social media by covering the event continually on multiple networks throughout the day: sessions, selfies with other attendees, lunch, swag, you name it. Everyone who even glances at the event hashtags will notice you. The attendees and even speakers are likely to walk up to you to say “I saw you’ve shared that quote/photo. Nice one!”. Did I mention that you should include the event hashtags everywhere?

Meet new people

Firebase Summit is a chance to meet incredible developers from a variety of backgrounds that are working on some really exciting challenges. Everyone is friendly and there to chat, so take advantage of that. Here is a couple of tips to make it easier for you to network even if you’re someone who has a hard time approaching people. First of all, you should always aim to connect with the people sitting next to you. You have no idea how amazing might that person be, and you never know how they could help you or vice versa. Lunch is another great time to socialize, so pick a table where there is room and ask politely “Do you mind if I join you?” to spend the mealtime together. One great connection can lead to new job opportunities, partnerships or a life-long friendship. Here are a few conversation starters you can use:

  • What did you think of that last speaker?
  • Hi, I’m [your name]! I don’t think we’ve met yet.
  • What sessions are you thinking of going to? I thought [session’s name] looked interesting.

Manage your existing connections

Firebase Summit is a great place to solidify your current relationships in the developer community. After all, good networking means not only creating new connections but also maintaining and strengthening existing ones. You could say to your friends: “Tomorrow I’m going to a session that I think we’ll both find interesting. Would you like to go together?” Having a friend to hang out with is great, however, make sure you don’t spend all of your time with people you already know (see above).

Engage with the Firebase team

Spend some quality time with the engineers, designers, and product managers who work on Firebase. Remember the Firebase team is coming to Firebase Summit to meet you and is looking to hear about your experience. So talk to them, ask all your burning questions, get feedback about a project you’re working on, and provide your feedback about Firebase to help shape the future of Firebase. It’s a truly unique opportunity, so make sure to not miss it! Even if you can’t think of anything to ask, just approach someone who is asking questions and listen to the conversation. Don’t be afraid to hang around (even as the last person) at a session to say hello and tell them how much you enjoyed their presentation.

Connect with fellow attendees and speakers on symmetric social media

This one is a no-brainer. We all know how to connect on social media when meeting people in person, so just one quick networking tip here. One of the fastest way to create immediate conversation, jump start the networking is exploring your mutual connections. Later, once you’re back home, don’t forget to send a follow-up and express your excitement about your newly created connection. Taking photos with other attendees and tagging them in your posts on social media is another great way to network.

You can also update your Name on Twitter to Name @ Firebase Summit 🇨🇿 to make it easier for others to identify you in the Twitter stream. Additionally, double check that your social media avatar looks just like you. While we all love cute illustrations, if you want to network efficiently both online and offline, try to find a photo that is similar to your current look.

Attend codelabs

There are instructor-led codelabs running all day parallel to the talks with constant attention from developers from the Firebase team. If there is a product you wanted to try out but didn’t have time or were intimidated to try on your own, make sure to drop by the codelabs room.

Relax, don’t try to catch everything

Firebase Summit is a big event, with lots of sessions, office hours, and other activities happening all in one day. So be realistic: there is no way to meet everyone and remember every single detail of every single session you’ve attended. While all those speakers, sessions, contacts, and conversations can very easily get quite overwhelming, try not to stress out too much or get too tired. Of course, you’ll be missing something and that’s totally okay. Just relax and enjoy the moment!

Don’t miss the after-party

Definitely try to make time to attend the after-party, even if you’re very tired — every social event is a great opportunity to meet people in a more relaxed setting. Some of the best event connections are made at after-parties! So make sure to save some energy for the evening. At the party, smile, say hello and ask people if they enjoyed the event. It might be important to mention that you don’t need to drink to enjoy the after-party. But if you do, please do drink in moderation.

After the event

Your work is not finished.

Explore Prague

Events give you a chance to see a different part of the world. Don’t waste it. Prague is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe. Seriously, from my little Prague experience when I spoke at mDevCamp earlier this year, I can tell that the place is absolutely stunning. With red-roofed buildings, numerous bridges and paved streets, Prague is a true visual delight. If you haven’t been to Prague before, you’ll find its charm totally undeniable. So why not use the opportunity to explore it — see if you can stay a couple of extra days after Firebase Summit to let go of the plugged-in world and get to know this magnificent city.

Create a piece of content

Act like a journalist. Whether it’s a few social media posts, a YouTube video or a Medium article, covering the event to share your experience with the event attendees and those who couldn’t be there in person is a great way to organize your thoughts and get more value from the event. Don’t forget to post it on social media using the #FirebaseSummit and #BetterTogether hashtags to make sure people can find it easily.

How can you publish the content quickly? Great notes (see above)! It’s easier to produce something if you take exceptional notes on the event. Great notes = fast and high quality content.

Follow-up with everyone you’ve met

At Firebase Summit, you’ll surely met a lot of new people and got new LinkedIn connections or Twitter followers. Within a week of returning from the event, make sure to send a personal follow-up to everyone you’ve met to let them know you enjoyed meeting them and would love to stay in touch. Remember it’s always best to follow up with someone when your conversation is still fresh in mind, regardless of whether or not you plan on doing something together immediately. Also, it might be a good idea to identify yourself, for example, “I’m the one who asked you about …” — another reason you’ll want to organize your notes (see above).

Give a recap talk at your local meetup

You’ve gained a lot of new information, inspiration, and contacts at Firebase Summit, and one of the best things you can do with all those resources now that the event is over is to help your local developer community to get value from the event. Time to share your newly acquired knowledge! Organize your notes into a quick recap presentation of top takeaways from the event. If there are questions, answer them if you can. If you can’t, follow up by sending links to supporting documentation articles or event videos.

Do you have any other tips for getting the most out of Firebase Summit? Comment below. And if you are planning on heading to Prague for this event, I’m really looking forward to meeting you there in person!