How I get the most from Sitecore Symposium (and other events)

How I get the most from Sitecore Symposium

(and other Sitecore events)

In case you’re living under a rock and haven’t noticed yet, Sitecore Symposium 2018 is just around the corner. This year it’s all happening in Orlando, FL.

If you take a look at the published Agenda you will find a near endless wall of back to back sessions, starting from 8 in the morning (7 if you include breakfast) and continuing on until 6 in the evening for the two main event days (the entire event runs over 4 days). And then, of course, there’s the opening reception, the dinner event, the pre-conference seminars. For some of us, there’s even the yearly Sitecore MVP Summit, extending the event throughout the entire week.

Sessions - Sessions everywhere

So how to make the most of all that?


I know I should be telling you, print out the agenda, mark the must-see sessions, fill out the rest of the slots with sessions that catches your eye. You (or your employer) paid good money to be here, you best make the very most of your time in Orlando.

But I won’t.

Because I don’t believe this is the way to get the most from an event like this.

Don’t get me wrong, the sessions are all great. I am presenting myself, and I know the amount of work and sweat and tears that go into preparing to speak at an event like this. And I would of course love it, if my session room was filled to the brim with enthusiastic and eager minds coming to listen to what I have to say. I am currently scheduled to speak Thursday, 9.30 am, for those so inclined.

But back to back sessions, from 8 in the morning until the early evening - followed by various social events and socialising? I think not.

I say, take it one step back. Go ahead, print the agenda. Mark the must-see sessions that apply to you. There’ll probably even be an App. But leave it at that. Go where the flow takes you for the rest. Maybe you’ve made some new friends over by the water cooler and they’re all going to see Kam Figy @kamsar showcase the latest and greatest stuff you can do with JSS. Maybe that wasn’t what you planned when you looked at the printed agenda the week before. But join them anyway.

What happens at these events then, if not sessions?

I’ve been around a few years. Doing Sitecore. I’ve been to Symposiums, SUGCONs, User Group events, pretty much all over the world. And I’ll tell you, honestly, the very best experiences I’ve had on these events had nothing to do with the sessions presented. I’ll share one.

Last year at SUGCON in Berlin, I was “over stimulated” by the sessions, by probably staying up a little later than I should the night before, by the crowd, by the sessions, by all the inputs. Everything. So I took a breather and skipped a session (more than once), just hanging out in the lounge area. I bump into Adam Najmanowicz @adamnaj who was - probably - feeling something similar, and we hit up a chat. I spent the next hour debating back and forth with him, the merits and problems of the Sitecore Experience Accellerator (SXA) and had a chance to voice my unique perspective on it all. And he listened. Anyone who’s ever met Adam will know this, he listens. And learns. And provides insight.

Look. My point is not “don’t attend the sessions and you might meet Adam” (although I do recommend meeting him). My point is, something like this will never make it to any official agenda. You can’t plan for this. But if the opportunity presents itself, grab it.

Because the best thing is not on the agenda at all

What’s that you say? I’m saying that what makes these events so special, is the people attending. You. Me. Everyone. To use a term that has been over-used, washed, hung up to dry, washed again - “Networking”.

The best thing about these events. The Sitecore Community.

We don’t get many chances to all come together at the same place at the same time. But the Sitecore Symposium is one such event. Don’t let that opportunity go past you without you noticing. Don’t come back home, being asked “How was it?” and go “Yea was alright. Saw a lot of new stuff”. Come back, smile on your face, and either just stay silent or respond “I made lots of valuable new friends”. And if your boss asks, just tell him or her “I learned lots about the implications of JSS and SXA on the modern CMS world and how it influences the Sitecore 9 roadmap”. You can quote me on that ;-)

I hope to see you in Orlando.