With Oracle OpenWorld just around the corner and MySQL Connect already underway, I can’t believe that yet another year has passed. This is my third OOW, and I must have a following since folks are already reaching out to me on Twitter @pythiansimmons. (“Log Buffer lady” seems to be a handle I can’t seem to shake.) Not having deep technical knowledge, I can only comment so much on technology announcements. However, as the maestro of Pythian’s team of 18 at the show this year, I can comment on how to get the most out of your OOW participation and experience (and how to stay in the good graces of your peers!).
Take care of yourself and your staff
People first. Employees first. That’s a mantra of ours at Pythian. Everyone works very hard throughout the year, culminating into a week-long event that is exciting and exhilarating but that can be draining and physically exhausting. Keep an eye on your staff. Keep ’em hydrated (with water). Include everyone in social events and activities so no one gets lost in the shuffle. While we’re all adults, OOW can be overwhelming at the best of times, especially for first-timers. There are a lot of late nights and early mornings (especially with last minute slide preparation for speaking sessions). Generally be aware of where everyone is and what they are doing. At Pythian, we work hard and play even harder while here, but the entire team contributes. I am so adamant about this that my nickname among our staff is “Mother”, and I don’t have kids of my own! Be sure to take an hour or so to yourself every day to get lost – regroup, re-energize, and refocus.
Divide and conquer
As I previously said, the entire team at Pythian contributes. The Marketing team is busier than anyone at these shows, working behind the scenes to make things happen as smoothly and seamlessly as possible (with the goal of course – ROI on show spend!). We carry, organize, schedule, set up, tear down, run, run and run, party, organize some more, meet & greet, smile, network, develop business, and entertain, among a myriad of other activities. We are only one person (even though I consider myself 2-3 at times). Ask for help. Delegate. Get your team involved. It alleviates the load and gives everyone more time for the fun stuff in the end.
Maintain some semblance of control
It’s usually marketing dollars that are spent on this type of event. Make sure that you can quantify the spending into some type of ROI for your organization (whether direct or indirect) and that you track activities and leads. Collect cards and take notes on new relationships or those made stronger as a result of your participation. It goes without saying that all leads should be tracked and followed up immediately. It’s amazing that after my 20 or so years as a marketing professional, I still see this as being the number one source of where ROI tracking falls down. Your budget, your call. I’m blessed at Pythian to have the full support of the Executive & Leadership team on “ownership” of folks at OOW. I track who goes where, who they meet, what they do, and I essentially own the entire team while they are onsite. It works well for us (right, team?) ;)
Have a voice on social community channels
In my entire career, I’ve never known an organization so community-oriented and involved than Pythian. With an entire company of 200+ of us on Twitter, blogs, Facebook and LinkedIN, we easily amplify our voice at an event such as this. Use proper hashtags and Twitter handles. (Not sure which are important? – ask Oracle Marketing) Member of the Oracle PartnerNetwork (#OPN)? Leverage their communications channels too. @oracleopenworld, @mysqlconnect, and #OOW12 are good places to start. Your team should be providing commentary throughout the event. (Speaking sessions? Promote them. keynotes? Comment based on relevance to your organization. See something cool? Snap a pic and tell the world. Find a short line or a tip other attendees could use? Share it!)
Oracle fosters a hell of an ecosystem that we all benefit from. Be thankful to your Oracle contacts, Oracle PartnerExchange team, other partners, community connections, staff, customers, and all the folks working behind the scenes that you cross paths with during the week. It’s good karma, and it will return to you in spades.
Stop to take it all in. Step back, watch the crowd, and feed off the buzz and energy. The vibe is amazing when you’re right in the middle of it.
Need more ideas? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m happy to share my tips.
Wishing you all the best of Oracle OpenWorld 2012!