First off, I am still alive, just acclimating to my new role and the travel with VMware. To get back into the swing of things and as I get ready for some new things coming up, I thought this would be a good return to writing post.

So for those of you preparing to go to your first VMworld, CONGRATS! You are headed to an excellent conference with roughly 27,000 other people! Yes, let that sink in for half a second… twenty. seven. thousand. people. And that is if they didn’t get additional people to show up this year!

So, for you first timers, I know how you feel. I was you last year, and these are the tips that I got and learned myself that I want to share.

  • SHOES: Get a pair of shoes that are comfortable for walking… 10-15 thousands steps a day in. If you don’t have a step tracker, then you should get one. If you decide to buy a new pair of shoes, BREAK THEM IN FIRST! That was my mistake, I didn’t.
  • SESSIONS: You won’t make them all, it just doesn’t happen. You can try and plan the perfect schedule full of amazing sessions. You’ll want to be there for them all, and then, you’ll walk into the Solutions Exchange. You’ll walk out and realize you missed half the day. Don’t feel bad, it happens to everyone.
  • EVENTS: Lets call it what it is, parties. Call your partners, VAR’s and Vendors and see who has an event going on. This is a great chance to relax, meet people and just get off your aching feet for 30 minutes to an hour. (Because there are about 10 parties happening each night)
  • GOING ALONE?: I did this last year, and although you are surrounded by 27,000 people, there is no weirder way to feel alone. You don’t have to feel that way though. Have you ever met someone that you can talk shop with? Talk about technology and you just go on and on for an hour or two, before you realize time has passed? Yeah, you have 27,000 other people there just like that. This is my single biggest piece of advice. At times you will be walking with a large crowd in the same direction, looking for a table to sit at and see a single chair at a table of 5 or maybe sitting at an event. The best thing you can do at VMworld when you feel alone, or anti-social, just turn to your left or right and introduce yourself. You will be amazed at the people you meet. Heck, a couple times the people I met were VMworld presenters!
  • KEYNOTE: Although its great to attend the main keynote speech in the main hall, there are additional keynotes each day. Instead of going to the main hall, go to the community space. Sit with the bloggers, check out vBrownBag, talk with the VMware Engineers at the “Office of the CTO” Booth (VERY COOL FUTURE TECH!). Get out of the main room and the absolutely insane crowd. Oh and don’t expect to have great mobile data service during this time.
  • COMMUNITY: This is the real reason people go. At my last job, my coworker helped persuade my boss to send me to VMworld (THANK YOU!!) and this was his tip. Meeting with and networking in the community is so much more valuable than just attending the sessions (which are recorded and put on youtube). He was so very right. The people that I met at events, while walking towards a session and even in the community lounge I’ve continued to talk with via twitter and slack. Amazing people!

Thats it for now, but for those heading to their first VMworld, enjoy it! Its a great experience and I recommend hitting up all of the community based parties and events, those were my favorite.