The past two years have been pretty conference-packed for me, and I have learned a lot from sessions. But it’s the other stuff — the down time, the in-betweens, the meals and drinks, the experiences — that have really paid dividends. Those experiences have formed bonds and strengthened them.
I’m not going to write today about what I’ve learned or taught or which career opportunities I’ve gotten or been able to give because of these ties, though they have been significant, at least to me. I’m just going to show you a bit of what I mean.
Here are a few — a very few — of the memorable experiences from the past couple of years that happened to be captured.
mLearning DevCon 2011 | Since I was in the neighborhood, I met David Kelly (someone I only knew through the Internet) for dinner and drinks. That evening, Steve Jobs passed away, and we ended up walking to the Apple Store on 5th Avenue to be part of the commemorations.
TechKnowledge 2012 | One of the perks of being on the planning committee… Kris Rockwell made sure Jane McGonigal knows what’s up before her keynote, in which she engineered the world’s largest ever massively multiplayer thumb-wrestling competition.
TechKnowledge 2012 | A big group went to Penn and Teller’s show. Yep, that’s Teller, prepping me and Cammy Bean to participate in a trick.
I’m pretty sure I’ve written the gist of this before, and so did Aaron Silvers before and after TechKnowledge 2011, but it bears reflecting on again as DevLearn 2012 and TechKnowledge 2013 approach. Over the past few years I’ve learned this about making conferences into experiences:
Minimize the time you spend on the work that you would normally be doing back at the office.
Be willing to change your plans to keep having an awesome conversation.
Go out for dinner and drinks and shows and wacky haunted mansion tours.
Reach out, make connections, have experiences, and have fun.