E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

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10 Things I Learned from IBM’s Lotusphere 2008 to Help Prepare for Lotusphere 2009!

Over the last few days you would remember how I have been putting together a number of different blog posts to detail what have been some of the major highlights I have gone through while attending IBM’s Lotusphere 2008 event: Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4 and Day 5. Overall the experience has been incredible, to say the least! Weeks before going there I had a huge amount of very high expectations from hearing and reading all over the place what kind of a special event it surely was, and as time got closer to the final date, my excitement grew likewise as well!

I attended some really good keynote and speaker sessions, hanged about at the Innovation, User Experience and Meet the Developers Labs, met a whole bunch of new folks and, much more importantly, I got to meet up with a whole bunch of good old friends with whom I have been spending a good amount of time nurturing our relationships within various social networking tools. And, of course, we had plenty of good fun with whatever other activities were planned throughout the entire event.

It was a remarkably wonderful experience to be able to connect with those folks, meet some new, brilliant and talented people very passionate about social computing in general and Enterprise 2.0, in particular, although most of them didn’t realise about it (Which is a good thing!) and also I had the unique opportunity to meet up on site my entire new team, where I am the only one working overseas. Just brilliant!!

However, as I got back and started to get immersed into reading more and more what actually happened throughout the event I realised that I should prepare better for next year’s, so that I have got the chance to improve the overall experience from the blast it’s been this year so far. Thus with that spirit, here you have got 10 things I would be working on differently over the next few months to help me prepare for Lotusphere 2009!

1. Plan ahead better which sessions I’d be attending: That basically means getting my hands on the super nifty Notes database put together by the Genii Software folks as soon as I possibly can, so that I can peek through those various presentations I’d be interested in ahead of time. There were so many great sessions put together that one had the constant feeling of having missed something! (Thank goodness, most of the decks are available online for download / replay!)

2. Ensure at all costs I got the hotel room booked at The Swan Hotel in Orlando: That worked out beautifully this year, so I need to ensure I am registered soon enough to book myself for the same hotel.

3. Perhaps go with some carry-on luggage instead of the regular suitcase: Yes, indeed, I am not ready to lose, yet again, my luggage just before getting there! It’s happened a couple of times already, not willing to let it go once more!

4. Get easy on late nights and alcohol: Yeah, I know, I said that! This year I basically missed all of the BOFs sessions in the morning, because there was no way I was going to get up at 6am to attend one of them at 7am. It’s just not going to happen! Perhaps they should move them towards the end of the day … hint, hint, and let us get some good night sleep!!

5. Be prepared to walk & take an extra pair of shoes: Stuart McIntyre, from Collaboration Matters, mentioned to me in a Skype conversation, before just heading to Lotusphere 2008, that I should go and listen to The Taking Notes Podcast‘s episode #74, as I was bound to find everything I needed to enjoy the event as a first time attendee. Of course, I listened to the fine show put together and one of the comments was that every day we would be walking quite a bit in between hotels, sessions, Labs, evening activities, etc. etc. Well, that is just so true! I literally burnt out a pair of shoes just from walking!! (Thank goodness I always take a spare one with me!)

6. Hang out more at the bar(s): Like usual, and this is something I have learned over time myself, all of the best social networking is just happening right there, right then: The bar(s)!! And there are plenty of them, so I need to go to them much more often than what I already did this year! I know, hard to combine with #4!!

7. Trust the network more: IBM’s Lotusphere 2008 has probably been the first one, from all of the different IBM and non-IBM conferences,  I have attended where the wireless network has just been amazingly brilliant and reliable throughout the entire event, even when it was all finished and done with! I need to make a conscious effort to do some more live con-blogging, twittering, shooting photos / videos, etc. etc. The network will be just fine!!

8. Walk even more than this year: Not only would it prove to be a very very healthy activity, but it would also give me the opportunity to check out more extensively the fantastic Product Case area where lots of the hottest action was happening! Yeah, can you believe that I only returned with one (Not lousy!) t-shirt?!?!? Yes, I know. Sad 😉

9. Talk to more people: Well, I guess I can’t have enough of it, can I? To me, it’s what makes every single event a great success!! Meeting new people who you may share a passion with for whatever the subject, introduce yourself to most of them (Even if you do not know them!), show off with one of your lovely MOO cards, and start talking! Believe me, in my experience this year, people are very willing to find out more about who you are, what you do and what brought you to Lotusphere … and bingo! A new connection has been born! Time then to nurture it!

10. And, finally, my favourite tip for next year; Let serendipity do its magic; Over and over again! Serendipity is a wonderful thing, we all know that, but you would be amazed at the huge volume of really stunning conversations I had throughout the conference event due to one or another of those serendipitous encounters. I am surely going to let it do its magic much more often than what actually happen this year?

How? Well, walk, walk, walk and walk all over the place!! That’s how I met the folks I wanted to meet up with in the first place. And I only got to see about half of them!! So next year I need to walk twice as much as this year so that I can keep bumping into several folks I would really want to meet up with, but also letting that magic work for those folks who I don’t know anything about just yet and who are just waiting to make that connection. Like I said, let serendipity do its magic. After all, it’s just the perfect place, don’t you think?

Well, that would be it, folks. That’s the final blog post from my reviews of one of the most superb events I have ever attended. Ever! I mean it. I am surely looking forward to next year’s and put into practice all of the tips I have mentioned above. But how about you? If you were there this year, what would be your tip(s) for next year? What would you do different next year to enjoy the overall experience ever so much more? Tell us … We are all ears! 🙂

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