Non-Generic Tips for Cisco Live

Read­ing Time: 3 min­utes

Edi­tor’s Note: This was writ­ten by my love­ly wife, Jen­nifer Bryson, after a frus­trat­ing few days of read­ing the same hack­neyed advice for con­ven­tion goers.

I have been read­ing a lot of dif­fer­ent tips peo­ple are post­ing for Cis­co Live, and while some of them are great, a lot of them are incred­i­bly gener­ic. Bring com­fort­able shoes? Any­one who has ever been to any sort of con­ven­tion should know that. Bring sun­screen? Um, I would hope most peo­ple know they should bring sun­screen to Flori­da. Bring a portable charg­er? I don’t know a sin­gle self-respect­ing geek who goes any­where with­out one. I decid­ed to add some of my own tips. Keep in mind, I am not one of the geeks, or at least, I am not a com­put­er geek, so when it comes to tips and advice on ses­sions you should read some of the oth­ers. This is my 9th year attend­ing with my hus­band, and so far we have sur­vived each year, so here are my new­bie sur­vival tips:

  1. Say hi. There are a ton of real­ly nice peo­ple, many of whom are CLUS pros, so find a group of peo­ple and get to know them.
  2. While say­ing hi and get­ting to know peo­ple, find out if the peo­ple you are say­ing hi to are on a Twit­ter list or chat group that you can be added to. This is how you will find out where all the fun, infor­mal gath­er­ings are tak­ing place and where your peo­ple are at any giv­en time. @NetworkingNerd has a great Twit­ter list.
  3. Pri­or­i­tize. There is no way you can get to every ses­sion, par­ty, social gath­er­ing, etc. that you want to go to unless you invent a tele­por­ta­tion device and per­fect time trav­el. Sign up or RSVP to every­thing, but choose your must-do events and be will­ing to skip some of the less impor­tant ones. This gives you time to sleep, eat, and nurse your inevitable hang­over.
  4. Hydrate. And I don’t mean with the ample sup­plies of sug­ary, caf­feinat­ed and/or alco­holic bev­er­ages around. Bring a water bot­tle and use it. There are big water cool­ers spread around, but the cups are itsy bit­sy, and all you will find in bot­tles and cans are not good for you (yes, I know you all live on caf­feine and sug­ar, but I am a nurse so I have to throw that in there.)
  5. That leads to food…there are not a whole lot of healthy options offered at the dif­fer­ent events. Look into the restau­rants around the con­ven­tion cen­ter and your hotel if you are inter­est­ed in eat­ing things like veg­eta­bles, and con­sid­er bring­ing easy to car­ry snacks like nuts or pro­tein bars around with you.
  6. Find some down time. This can be hard, because there are always 500 things going on, but you don’t want to col­lapse from exhaus­tion. Even just pulling up a chair or bean bag in the Social Media hub and putting on your head­phones and zon­ing out for a half hour can real­ly help you recharge for lat­er activ­i­ties. Ide­al­ly, try to get away for a bit all togeth­er. Spend an hour by your hotel pool or leave the con­ven­tion cen­ter for lunch.
  7. Yes, CLUS is super casu­al, and most peo­ple will be wear­ing the stan­dard uni­form of car­go shorts or jeans with a t‑shirt, but con­sid­er bring­ing at least one semi-nicer out­fit for some of the par­ties. This is, after all, tech­ni­cal­ly a pro­fes­sion­al con­fer­ence, so it is prob­a­bly best not to com­plete­ly embrace the col­lege cam­pus slack­er look at all times.
  8. Tim­ing. Every­thing from check­ing in, to get­ting from your hotel room to the con­ven­tion cen­ter, to get­ting from one end of the con­ven­tion cen­ter to the oth­er, to get­ting on one of the shut­tle busses to the CAE is going to take longer than you might antic­i­pate. The Orlan­do con­ven­tion cen­ter is gigan­tic, and there are a ton of atten­dees, so plan to leave ear­ly for things, don’t expect you are going to be able to pull off last minute depar­tures, and be pre­pared to wait.
  9. Add on some time for non-CLUS fun. If you have not already done so, try to find some­thing fun to do the day before or after the main show if your trav­el plans per­mit. Orlan­do is theme park cen­tral, and there are a lot of fun non-theme parky things to do too.
  10. Keep in touch with those peo­ple you said hi to after CLUS. This will be my 9th year attend­ing CLUS with my hus­band, and we have made some life-long friends from all across the coun­try over the years. Fol­low the peo­ple you get to know on Twit­ter or Face­book. Plan­ning events for the next CLUS tends to start ear­ly, so it is a great way to get a head start on next year’s events.

Have fun! Hope to meet you there!