Greyhawk's guide to surviving Lotusphere

In a short few week, Lotusphere 2007 will be upon us. I believe this is my eighth Lotusphere, so I have gleaned some things that might help you out. All of these might not pertain to you, but get all you can out of it.

  • Bring multiple pairs of shoes – This I learned from Richard Schwartz years ago and it’s one of the best things. Bring at least two pairs of comfy shoes and switch between them from day to day. You do a TON of walking at the Sphere and if you only use one pair, your feet, legs and back will become fatigued. Mixing it up has really helped me in past years.
  • If you drink, ramp up – If you enjoy an adult beverage on occasion, you will find way too many opportunities to do so at the Sphere. As such, you will find that you may drink more here than any other time of the year. If that’s the case, get your body ready by having a drink or two a night from now until the Sphere. Sounds weird, but I probably drink a couple times a year, and Lotusphere is the one biggie. If I don’t ramp up, I will be hurting for sure during the week of the Sphere.
  • You WILL get sick, try to minimize it – Lotusphere vets know of the Lotusphere flu that flies around every year during and after the conference. Lack of sleep, being tired from all the walking, and the hangovers don’t help your immune system. To combat this, try to drink orange juice, take vitamin C, take zinc and make sure you eat a good breakfast every morning. Seriously, take a few precautions and you’ll weather the storm much better.
  • Make plans to ship stuff home – Every year I get tons of free schwag. Books, t-shirts, CD’s, toys and other giveaways add up really fast. You’ll find that at the end of the conference you’ll have no place to put them all. Here’s what I do, I buy a large box from the shipping department at the hotel. I fill it full of all of the giveaways and dirty clothes, and I ship it home. I’ve done this every year and never regretted it. For the little amount of money it takes, it saves a ton of hassle.
  • Plan your sessions around the rooms they are in – Take the time to really prepare your schedule. You don’t want to go to three sessions in a row by going from the Dolphin to the Swan to the Yacht club. That is a LOT of walking. Mark the sessions you absolutely MUST see and then surround them with things in the same building. Many sessions run twice, so you can be flexible in your scheduling. If you plan correctly, you will minimize the walking and save your back and feet a little. Check out Ben’s database (EDIT: Here’s the 2008 Database) for help.
  • Go to parties in the evenings and meet people – The first year I went, I hit the sessions then went back to my room. I didn’t go to any parties or really mingle at all. That was a big mistake. Every night there will be some kind of gathering. There will be vendor parties, Lotus events and informal hanging out at places like Kimono’s and the Dolphin lobby bar. GO. You will have a lot more fun, network like crazy, and get the most out of Lotusphere.
  • Bring business cards – You will have lots of opportunities to give them out. Sometimes it’s just at a booth to try to win a prize, other times it’s to a vendor contact you really want to keep in touch with, and sometimes it’s just to other geeks. But trust me, you can hand out hundreds of cards if you try.
  • Don’t leave on Thursday, Stay until Friday – I know lots of people that try to leave Thursday afternoon or evening. Don’t. Stay the extra night and leave on Friday. The problem with leaving Thursday is that you have to check out before the conference is over, so you have to trust your bags in a “holding area” at the hotel. Also, if you leave early you will miss the entertainment of the closing session. Take the extra night, relax, have a nice meal, maybe hit a park and then take your time getting home on Friday. You won’t be of any use on Friday anyway, so don’t think you’re going to work and are going to be productive. You will likely be tired, sick, jet-lagged, and depressed that it’s all over. Heck, you may be all of those things! Staying will improve your sanity.
  • Taq all of your photos with “lotusphere2007” EDIT: “lotusphere2008” – This has been kind of a standard for a couple of years on flickr so let’s keep it going. Tagging your photos (and posts) this way helps a ton.

That’s about all I have for now, but take these to heart. Please add your own in the comments if you have anything else to contribute to the conversation. Look forward to seeing you there!