Deciding to attend the IA Summit requires a lot of consideration, specially because of the financial toll it takes on most of us: conference ticket, airplane ticket, hotel, expenses. It all could easily amount to at least a couple grand. I decided to write this post and share my experience as a first timer intended for everyone who’s considering going but aren’t really sure about it. In a few words: it’s worth it, only it’s up to you to make it worth it.
The first day: the fear of not knowing anyone.
Or knowing too few. Either way, Initially I was worrying about what the first day was going to be like: are people gathering for dinner? Where do they hang out? How am I gonna fit there?
The first thing to do remember is that everyone is just as introverted as you are and that is the very reason why they’re so welcoming to first timers. They want us to feel like home just as they do. My solution: DM Eduardo Ortiz to meet after we’ve been talking online for almost a year. He introduced me to more people and they introduced me to some more and on and on. (thank you Eduardo! <3)
Sharing stories, anecdotes, or just talking about how awesome the San Francisco Giants are. I found out I had much more in common with these UXers than I thought. They’re just as human as everyone, not mythical unreachable creatures… well, some are anyway.
Are another great way to meet people and bring incredible value to your knowledge. Besides working with them as a team, we talked about where we’re from, what we do, UX challenges in our cities and so on. Went to dinner with them and my workshop teacher Donna Spencer who by the way is an amazing person and a brilliant professional. If you’d like to solidify your IA knowledge, I suggest you take her workshop. We all got to talk about some pretty heavy UX stuff and enjoy amazing crab cakes.
The actual conference
Despite going to bed very late the previous couple of days (and eventually every single day of the conference) I managed to go to every talk possible and boy, were they worth it. Theories, techniques, ground breaking stuff!
The “extracurricular” activities
While the great talks were over, certainly the day wasn’t. I managed not to miss a single night of dinner/drinks with all the new people I had met during the day. This is the time when true friendships take form and bad decisions that make great stories happen.#facetofacesales
(I love making lists…)
- I got to meet some incredible people who I have tons of things in common with and are way smarter than I am.
- I got to wear biofeedback ears (thank you Christina and Alberta!) and hang out with a unicorn.
- Learned a bunch of new things.
- Gained different perspectives about UX that served as an inspiration to create better experiences.
- Tested the limits of how much I can handle with very few hours of sleep.
- Got to be a very horrible person playing Cards Against Humanity.
- Most importantly: I made friends for life.
Getting the most out of your first time
- Make good use of twitter: interacting and sharing points of view with members of the community will allow you meet people online that you’ll eventually see there.
- The time you spend hanging out outside the conference is just as important as the conference itself. Whenever possible, go to dinners, drinks at the bar, etc. Mind blowing conversations and great anecdotes.
- Drink but not too much: you don’t want to forget the people you’ve met.
- No matter how tired you are, don’t miss the talks. You want to get your money’s worth.
- Tweeting during the event will also give you good visibility: quotes from the talks, funny moments…
- If you have the opportunity to make a fool of yourself, do it. Just do it.