It’s only a few weeks until Cisco Live US! Since will be my fourth experience with Cisco Live, I am considered a NetVet. Each year there are many first-time attendees. With that in mind, I wanted to share a handful of tips that might help these Cisco Live first timers enjoy their visit to San Francisco.
Quick Tips For Cisco Live 2014
1. Wear comfortable shoes–
Convention centers with the ability to handle more than 20,000 visitors tend to be huge and spread out. Those attending Cisco Live often report walking 20 to 30 miles. That’s quite a bit of walking. Quality shoes will increase the comfort (or decrease the pain) when moving between sessions and exploring the World of Solutions.
2. Bring a jacket–
This recommendation is specific to this year’s venue. Last year Cisco Live US was in Orlando and everyone needed a personal air conditioner. San Francisco is much different. Even though it is California, it is Northern California. Additionally, the cool pacific ocean tends to influence the temperatures. In some places, it seems more common than not to need a jacket. I plan to pack one and be prepared for outdoor events like the Customer Appreciation Event.
3. Leave sessions that don’t fit–
The technical sessions at Cisco Live are awesome. In many cases the presenter will be a senior developer, author of a related book or a representative with one or more standards bodies. But let’s face it, sometimes a given session doesn’t jive with everyone. If you aren’t connecting and feel compelled to leave the session, do so discreetly. If the session isn’t delivering value, there are other plenty of other opportunities to learn. Alternatively, a short break might help your mind prepare itself for the next session.
4. Take advantage of social events–
Twitter is the social network of choice at Cisco Live. Look out for official hashtags and twitter lists to follow. Cisco Live is a great place to meet those that you’ve been interacting with throughout the year. Look for the “Social Media Hub” and start chatting with people who only been cyber friends in the past. While I’m a serious introvert and would admit that this doesn’t sound like much fun, a lot of other geeks are just like me and it usually works out to be an interesting time. Also take advantage of the Customer Appreciation Event. If you are a CCIE or can find one to tag along with, the CCIE party can also be fun.
5. Visit the World of Solutions vendors–
The World of Solutions is an enormous showcase of vendors that relate to Cisco products. These are typically training partners, network management vendors, environment solutions, and other Cisco partners. In this area, Cisco also has several booths that represent their different business units and areas of interest. Attendees can get a lot of free stuff, but be forewarned that it will result in quite a bit of email. I would recommend at least visiting the booths of vendors for the types of solutions your organization or customers are currently considering. Cisco Live is great place to get the contact information for their top engineers.
6. Have a plan–
Sessions should be scheduled as far in advance as possible. Beyond that, you sort of need to build an itinerary for each day. Cisco Live is tiring and attendees are more likely to become exhausted than to run out of stuff to do. Make a mental note of the high priority items and make sure to accomplish those.
7. Meet the engineer–
I must make a personal confession on this one. I typically haven’t took advantage of this. However, I have heard from others that this is a great experience. Basically, attendees can schedule a “Meet the engineer” session with a Cisco Subject Matter Expert and go over their own thoughts, designs and challenges. Someone responding like, “Well when I was writing the code for that feature”, will likely gain instant creditability as they provide critical input on your design.
Cisco Live is a blast. It is also physically and mentally exhausting. If you have questions, additional tips, or links to share, please do so by commenting below.