In just a short time, the SharePoint conference will embark on Las Vegas once again with hopes of igniting the community that loves SharePoint and getting all the latest information on what to look forward to. In hopes of not stealing that thunder of what to look forward to but give everyone who’s interested some highlights of what I’m looking forward to in the SharePoint Conference 2019 edition.
First and foremost, must be the people! It’s a great opportunity to see old friends, some I haven’t seen for a year, and meet new people. The SharePoint community is made great by people and this year will be no different. If you are traveling alone and feel like you know a few people, or maybe no one at all, make it a point to meet new people. Here’s a few ways you can accomplish that:
There’s a networking reception followed by a Diversity and Inclusion reception. Go to one, go to both, but meet people there. Talk with others about where they work, what they are interested in, what they have done recently in SharePoint. This is not like other conferences that have many technologies, this is all SharePoint people or people that are connected somehow to the SharePoint universe, which includes things like Teams, Flow, PowerApps, PowerBI and so many other great workloads.
If you are hungry and eat either breakfast or lunch during this time, another great place to meet people is to join one of the meet up groups that are happening during breakfast or lunch. There will be topic moderators who will help associate ideas and people together. This is a great way to interact and learn more about people while discussing a specific topic, but also to find familiar faces throughout the rest of the conference. Maybe attend breakfast with a few people you don’t know for a day and you can find people to sit with at all the other meals.
Yes, it’s true speakers sometimes seem like the untouchables as they give amazing talks on a variety of topics. I still get star struck by some of the people I call my friends with the amazing things they are doing in their careers and lives. I’ll let you in on a little secret: They are people too and started out very much like you. I don’t know of a single speaker that will turn you away from talking with them. Be respectful, especially if other people are waiting to ask questions at the end of a session or if they are headed to another session. Reach out and introduce yourself as well. You never know when you will find a great partner.
Speaking of partners, meet the vendors at the conference as well. In the course of 18 years of SharePoint being a “thing” I have personally switched jobs six times. When I first started, I didn’t want to get the follow up emails or the phone calls. What changed was me. I found I was in a new role with a different company and now needed to know more and more about the eco-system and those who support it through the network of 3rd party applications. I had to know how to fill in the gaps. So, even if you get a few extra emails or phone calls, or even just introduce yourself and sit through a demo of what they are all about, do it! It’s ok to explain you are there to just learn what they are there to support and what use cases you may find use for their services.
What would a conference be if it didn’t have sessions? Probably just a big party, while fun, maybe not so educational. So, here are some of the sessions I’m looking forward to.
Of course, the keynote. What SharePoint conference would be complete if Jeff Teper wasn’t on stage for all the big announcements? This year, no different! Be sure not to miss the first day opening keynote session.
Speaking of sessions, there is a whole track dedicated to Diversity and Inclusion. These are thought provoking sessions. Sure, you could go to learn more about lots of things and most of those sessions will be repeated at other conferences, but you won’t be able to see the D&I track sessions again until maybe Ignite as not every conference does these types of sessions. I get it, you’re there to learn more about the latest technology that hopefully will someday be available in your company and will have likely changed a few times before that point. You could also go to hear some wonderful leaders from Microsoft talk more in depth on various subjects. I for one, will likely be spending quite a bit of time in the Diversity and Inclusion track and that’s for various reasons, but I’m really looking forward to the ones below:
Why Growth Mindset Matters in the ever-changing world of O365. Yes, this is my own presentation, however the reason why I’m looking forward to giving it and being there is because for me I have spent a great part of my life being afraid to fail and overcoming that fear with the gift of loving learning. I want to find out from others how they have incorporated the growth mindset in their careers as well as answering the question “How do you keep up with the change that is O365”. A growth mindset means you don’t have to know everything right now, you need to know how to learn.
Another couple of great sessions are leading from the top series. In these sessions, there are community speakers as well as Microsoft leaders which form a panel to discuss what initiatives are flowing a flourishing when building and growing a diverse and inclusive workforce. There are a few of these sessions with different panelists on each, so make sure you attend one of these.
Looking for a mentor to help you get through all the questions you may have? Not happy in your career or with your boss? Check out Cathy Dew and Eric Shupps session on mentorship and maybe you’ll find a mentor of your own. Not sure if you need a mentor or just some other people on your side, check out the fireside chat with Omar Shahine and Jeff Teper about being an ally. Learn how to grow an awesome local community and what makes that happen from two of my favorite experts, Sarah Haase and Wes Preston who have been organizing the highly successful SharePoint Saturday Twin Cities for years with help from others in the community. Jen Mason and Marc Anderson will be doing a session on communications styles across generations and as someone who works with people older and much younger than I am, as well as people from different countries, that should be an interesting session indeed. There are just so many great sessions there. Honestly, commit yourself to attending at least one of these sessions each day to get some thought-provoking information that you can’t get from reading a blog article or watching a video. This is good stuff! Take advantage.
The women in SharePoint will be celebrating their 10th anniversary year. As part of that, look for stickers and other swag and attend the Diversity and Inclusion reception happy hour on Tuesday. Be sure to tweet using #CelebrateUs while at the conference.
There are so many great people and great sessions at the SharePoint Conference 2019 this year. I’m really looking forward to meeting more people and hanging out with friends who have become my family over the years. Make sure to learn something, grow, network and most importantly, enjoy! See you at SharePoint Conference 2019 in Vegas. If you are unable to attend, check out the keynote at aka.ms/SharePointvirtualsummit for all the big announcements. They will NOT disappoint.