I’ve been back from Cisco Live 2013 for 5 days. I’m still not caught up at work on email or task that were assigned while I was away. It will most likely take a couple of weeks of working extra hours each day to finally get back to the point where I am only drowning a little. With such morose statements, it probably seems like I’m not happy with my first trip to Cisco Live.
In-fact, you cannot be more wrong. Cisco Live is like Space Camp for adults. Once you have been there, coming back to normal life is difficult, but I’ll get to that later.
I understand that I had an unusual first experience but I’m not special. If 2014 will be your first Cisco Live; your trip could be just as good as mine, or even better. If you came away from Cisco Live 2013 unimpressed, YOU ARE DOING IT WRONG.
From my time on Twitter (@subnetwork) and this blog, I knew a lot of other engineers via the Internet. The very first stop I made after checking in was The Social Media Hub. On Sunday there was a Twitter Meetup (tweet-up). This gave me chance to meet in-person engineers that I have been conversing with online for years.
The engineers who attend the Tweet-up are a special breed. They write blog post about network engineering. They post to twitter about network engineering. They think about network engineering a LOT. This was an opportunity to learn, teach, and otherwise geek out about network engineering without getting that look that says the other person checked out as soon as you mentioned LISP.
From there, Cisco took over their role, and managed to host an incredible event. I sat through classes, ate meals, walked the World of Solutions, went to the Customer Appreciation Event (CAE), and attended vendor parties each evening.
All of this falls into the standard experience. However, in my case, everywhere I went, there was someone from social media crowd. Lunches were discussions about problems at work, new technologies, classes we attended, difficulties in finding good coworkers, geek lore, and the list continues on.
From the Social Media Lounge, I was able to participate in various contests Cisco posted online. I scored a special pass to the CAE, which allowed me to meet the band Journey. Thanks to Twitter, I was invited to the CCIE event. While sitting in the lounge, between sessions, I was invited to participate in a Tech Field Day featuring Open Gear.
I met Journey, attended the CCIE party as a non-CCIE, and participated in a Tech Field Day. These aren’t part of the normal experience. None of this would have been part of my experience if I wasn’t active in social media and hadn’t sought out these great engineers who sleep, eat, and breathe networking.
Your task, if you choose to have an extraordinary experience next year is simple. Begin participating in the conversation now. Make virtual acquaintances now, then turn them into friends in San Francisco.
If you do it right, next year, you will have difficulty adjusting back to normal life. You will be overflowing with fresh knowledge, and will be looking for people to share it with. You will find yourself often wishing that you were back at Cisco Live so that you could share your excitement with someone else who LOVES what they do for a living as much as you do.
Now is a great time to register for next year!