6 ways to network like a pro at Microsoft Ignite 2019
Microsoft Ignite, the home of Office 365 updates, Dynamics demos, and Microsoft Teams talks kicks off on November 4th in Orlando, Florida.
If you were lucky enough to get your hands on the now sold-out tickets, you’ve got some planning to do.
After all, you want to make sure that you walk away from Microsoft’s big event with plenty of information, inspiration, and a handful of contact details too!
So, how do you make sure that you’re the hottest attendee at Microsoft’s Ignite conference?
1 – Prep before you go: the basics
To some extent, prepping for Microsoft Ignite is just like planning for any big trip.
Awesome sunglasses? Double-check.
Portable battery charger? You bet.
(This one will come in super handy).
Remember, you need a fully charged phone or tablet to store as many email addresses and inspirational quotes from the people you meet as possible.
Then there’s the barrage of information and slide decks and videos that you’ll want to tweet immediately and post on LinkedIn later.
For the banner sessions, you might even want to live stream with your Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook audiences.
When planning for Microsoft Ignite, make sure you don’t overlook the really basic basics.
Comfortable clothes that will keep you cool and give you a professional vibe at the same time. It’s super hot at these events.
And pack your comfy shoes.
You’re going to be walking around a lot and you don’t want blisters to ruin your experience.
There are 25,000 people expected at Ignite this year. That’s a lot of square footage to cover.
Speaking of being on the move, avoid carrying any heavy backpacks or briefcases with you. Do you need your laptop every day? Could you survive with just your phone?
Remember, you’re already armed with your portable charger.
The less you have to carry, the more comfortable you’ll be.
2 – Set personal goals for Microsoft Ignite
Okay, so there’s more to prepping for Microsoft Ignite than finding a cozy pair of shoes (but it really does help).
You’ll also need to make sure that you’re getting as much value as possible from the conference, and that means setting some goals.
For instance, you might want to…
Speak to a specific MVP
Though it might be hard to nab a one-to-one with Satya Nadella, there are plenty of other Microsoft MVPs that you can engage with – particularly at the Ignite Welcome Reception on Monday the 4th, or in the Microsoft Hub Social Hour on the 5th. Decide who you want to track down ahead of time.
Get your questions answered
Maybe you recently found some hidden Microsoft Teams features that you want to take advantage of. Speaking to a Teams rep will help to answer any questions you might have. Documenting your queries in advance ensures that you can walk away with some genuine value to bring back to your team.
Test out some new tech
NetApp, Dell, Lenovo, and countless other great partners will be exhibiting at Microsoft Ignite this year. Check out their tech and decide what you’d like to test for yourself in advance.
Learn something new
Microsoft has multiple learning paths to explore while you’re at Microsoft Ignite. There are educational opportunities for everyone from IT management professionals to security experts and developers. Check out your learning options here.
3 – Get ahead of the crowds at Microsoft Ignite
Lines are a natural part of conferences.
But they suck.
If you think about it, Microsoft Ignite is a lot like Disneyland for Microsoft enthusiasts.
You wouldn’t expect to go there without seeing at least one major line.
Fortunately, you can get ahead of the queues at Microsoft Ignite by being adequately prepared.
**PRO TIP: 100% DO THIS IF YOU DON’T DO ANYTHING ELSE IN THIS BLOG POST!
The Name Badge Pick Up Program on Saturday and Sunday mornings allow you to collect your entry info ahead of time, so you can go ahead and walk straight into the expo on November 4th.
You can even pick up your name badge from Orlando airport! From Saturday, Microsoft will have a booth near baggage claim.
You can also use early sign-up as an opportunity to pick up your Ignite swag ahead of time.
Find the closest registration point to your Microsoft Ignite Official Hotel, and remember to download the app for the event too.
The app will help you to keep track of your personalized schedule, so you know exactly where you need to be for each session.
Download the Microsoft Ignite app or use the MyIgnite session catalog to plan each day.
Here you can apply various filters to make it easier to find the sessions most relevant to you.
4 – Plan your schedule
There are over 1,000 sessions and 200 hands-on experiences scheduled for this year’s Microsoft Ignite.
Combine that with over 25,000 peers to network with, endless demo partners and a bunch of learning opportunities, and you can see how tightly packed your schedule is going to be.
Unless you happen to have a time-traveling DeLorean handy (other time travelling devices are available), you’re going to need to decide which sessions you want to go to in advance.
The good news?
As you will see on the session catalog, a lot of the speeches include similar content, so you can skip a few without suffering from total Microsoft Ignite FOMO.
If you look at the session level, you can also see how advanced each topic is.
Tailoring your choices according to your marketplace knowledge will help you to learn something, without feeling overwhelmed when you attend the event.
When choosing your sessions:
- Check out the presenter’s profile: Some people are more likely to resonate with you than others. We’d recommend checking out Satya Nadella’s keynote speech, for instance – but this will fill up fast, so make sure you get there early. Really early.
- Focus on attending sessions that give you the most info about the tools you want to use from Microsoft, like Teams.
- Don’t be afraid to throw in a wild card: If something sounds exciting but doesn’t relate to your goals for Microsoft Ignite, check it out if you have time. You might learn something interesting. Plus, you can always the dedicated Microsoft Ignite Youtube channel after the event.
5 – Don’t just stick to sessions
There’s more to Microsoft Ignite than sessions.
You brought those comfy walking shoes for a reason!
Rather than spending all of your time listening to industry professionals, discover the benefits of talking to people too by visiting the Microsoft Ignite Hub.
The Hub is where you can test out Microsoft products and discuss your questions with partners and innovators in the tech space.
If you’ve missed any previous sessions, or you want to discuss ideas with your peers, you can also check out live streaming sessions at the Hangouts section of the event.
Some of the other things you can do at this year’s event include:
- Connecting with unique Microsoft Communities: The Community Zone is where you can meet developers, podcasters, and check out community content in a relaxing environment.
- Learning paths: As mentioned above, Microsoft Ignite is a great place to learn some new skills if you have the chance to take a class or two.
- Visit the Expo: Set some time aside to check out the Expo floor. Here, you can see representatives from inside the Microsoft community showing some of the most innovative products in the market. It’s a tech enthusiast’s dream come true.
6 – Taking notes and following up
One last tip?
Remember to think about what happens after Microsoft Ignite.
Make notes as you walk through the event about the things you see that interest you, the people you want to catch up with later, and the tech you want to take to your team.
If you end up with more questions about any of Microsoft’s offering, make a note so you can follow up with a question via email or chat later on.
Jot some key points down on your phone. You have got the Teams app, right?
Other things to do after Microsoft Ignite include:
- Reviewing your notes and writing a trip report for your team
- Downloading the sessions that mattered to you in MP4 format. (You could even watch some of these on the flight home)
- Following up with vendors and collaborators that you want to know more about
Making the most of Ignite means taking what you learn home with you, and ensuring you grow from the event.
Microsoft Ignite FAQ
Still got questions about Microsoft Ignite and how to make the most of it?
Here are the most common questions we’ve found when putting this post together.
The Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, Florida.
November 4th to November 8th, 2019. Arrive on the 3rd to get your name badge and event goodies early though.
Tickets are now sold out, but a full conference pass is usually $2,395. There are also passes for the pre-day workshop and specific portions of the event.
Microsoft Ignite is a huge Microsoft-focused event that runs every year. Here, you can learn about Azure, Microsoft, and Microsoft Teams, as well as other tech like Windows Terminals, Windows 10, and Microsoft Office. The event attracts over 25,000 attendees each year, and offers endless opportunities to learn, network and grow.