Whether you’re going to the event for the first time or simply want to get the most out of this year’s conference, we’ve gathered some tips for attending Microsoft Ignite 2016. When it comes to planning which sessions to attend, networking, or having fun at after-hours events, this advice comes straight from members of our team who went to the event last year in Chicago (so you know it’s good!):
Dr. Tianyi (TJ) Jiang, Co-CEO and Co-Founder
Plan ahead – Ignite is a big event. There are technology and business tracks covering everything from A to Z across the Microsoft technology stack. The most common thing I hear is that Ignite is a bit too big and overwhelming. On top of that, there are networking events and parties every single night of the week.
Check out the schedules and plan according to your focus area. Don’t miss the morning keynotes, as that’s where you get all of the executive summaries of the week. Take advantage of the event as a great way to network with your industry peers. And lastly, at the parties where there’s always a never-ending flow of food and alcohol, please pace yourselves. The week will be over before you know it!
John Peluso, Sr. VP of Product Strategy
PLAN! There is so much going on at Ignite, it’s easy to get swept into the whirlwind. Don’t leave crucial details – like setting meetings you want, contacting vendors you want to interface with, or planning sessions you want to attend – until the last minute.
Session schedules are posted well in advance, so start putting your must-have sessions on your calendar. Next, plan your essential meetings around that schedule. And don’t forget to sign up for those parties as soon as you get the invites. They tend to fill up quickly, so don’t get left out.
John Hodges, VP of Product Strategy
Be patient. Microsoft generally builds their conferences up from 100-level to 400-level classes gradually to ensure everyone has the same level of understanding. It also means they save the best content for last.
Don’t be frustrated if you’re only hearing high-level messaging in the first few days, it does get more intense as the days go on! Please don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions up front, though. Most of the Microsoft product team or vendors can steer you to the right sessions later in the week that hit your needs directly.
Edmund White, VP of North America Account Technical Specialists
I recommend that attendees talk to technical people at vendor booths about their current projects. It is a great way to get a broader view of the industry and some free consulting.
Daniel Attardi, Sr. Director of Account Technical Specialists
Ignite is the best place to meet customers, discuss their challenges, and network with other partners. It’s also a great way to stay informed on the up-and-coming features and functionalities that Microsoft is planning on bringing to the market. Networking is the best at this event!
Julie Liu, VP of Global Marketing and Operations
Build out your session schedule before you arrive! Microsoft does a great job of providing tools to build your week in advance. Take advantage of that, since perusing the session catalog at the event can cause you to attend too many sessions with similar content or missing out on others.
Also, stop by the expo floor. Vendors want to do more than draw you in with freebies (though that’s a plus!). They genuinely want to talk to you, so walk up with purpose and fire away. If you have a laundry list of questions, many companies will be glad to set up a follow-up meeting, or in AvePoint’s case, we welcome on-site meetings and in-person strategic consultations at Ignite!
Hannah Noe, Jr. Marketing Manager
Comfortable shoes are a must. From the expo hall to sessions, convention centers are huge. There’s no way to avoid lots of walking. Coffee is also a necessity for getting through the day!
Shyam Oza, Sr. Product Manager
Show up early for badge pickup. The lines become brutal during conference hours. Getting stuck on line could mean missing the keynote or sessions you really care about. Even better, if you can show up one day before the conference for early pickup, you can also catch a few sessions that happen pre-conference. Other tips:
- Use the schedule builder before the conference.
- Stay hydrated. People really tend to forget to look after themselves at conferences.
- Bring a personal Wi-Fi hotspot if possible, as connections at the conference can be hit or miss.
- Try at least one hands-on lab. They are actually quite fun!
At the Event
Meet these members of our team and more during Ignite – stop by booth #1104 and say hello! Our experts will be happy to show you how we’re helping customers migrate, manage, and protect Office 365 and SharePoint data. And don’t forget to enter our raffle for a Ducati Scrambler!
Can’t Make it to Atlanta? Don’t miss our Ignite recap webinar! We’ll be sharing key lessons learned and bring clarity to the news that comes out of Atlanta to help you get ready for what’s next from Microsoft.