Yesterday, I spent in Reston, VA attending the EclipseWorld 2007 conference. The event took place in Hyatt hotel located in a nice area with fancy stores. The registration was quick. I got my speaker “s badge and a coupon for $25 bucks to spend in any store or restaurant in Reston Shopping center. Actually, the lunch was served for free by one of the event sponsors (XAware). I wonder if from a marketing point of view it “s a smart move to buy lunch for 800 people just to be able to have a mike and talk about your product in the lunch room while everyone is chewing and digesting. Anyway, than you for the food.
In general, lunch is an important part of any conference. Here “s a suggestion ndash; do not pick a table with the people you know, because lunch is an opportunity to meet new people. Even if you are attending this event with a couple of your colleagues, you should split and take eat at different tables. Did not get it? OK, here “s a little school math. Each table in the dining room has 8 seats. If John, Mary and Sidor from XYZ Software, L.L.C. will seat together, there is a chance to meet 8-3=5 new people (potential clients, useful contacts, smart programmers, whatever). If each of them will sit at a different table, they can meet up to 7*3=21 new people. Got it now? Since I was there alone, I did not have to worry about splitting. One seat at our table was empty for a while. And then Mike Milinkovich, the keynote speaker and the head of Eclipse foundation stops by the table and asks if this seat is not taken ndash; sure, be my guest.
Three chewing movements later we were talking. I introduced myself, he said that my face looked familiar (you bet, it “s all over the Internet), I told him about our company, and Eclipse plugins for Flex that we create, and then gave him my business card with the words that if a Flex related topic will come up, we we “re the right people. Mike is a nice person, I “m sure he did not trashed my business card yet. You may say, “What the big deal, you gave your business card, so what rdquo;. No, kid, it “s a big deal, because you never know what may come out of it. And it “s definitely better than sitting in the closet when no-one knows who you are and what are you up to.
Meeting people is often more important than the stuff you learn in the classrooms. Especially if the presenter is a boring and having-nothing-to-say as the guy that ran a class “How to create Web applications with Eclipse rdquo;. It takes about two minutes to realize that you are picked the wrong class, but it “s too late hellip; but my laptop is already connected to the Internet. No, not through the wireless connection offered by the conference organizers ndash; no one seem to be able to do any work using that connection. My Verizon broadband connection (I have love/hate relations with it), performed better than local wi-fi. The Internet connection speed in the USA is of the stone age quality, but this is another subject altogether.
Then I “ve attended a class on the Web reporting solution for Eclipse called BIRT 2.2. This was a great presentation by Jason Withersby from Actuate. I like BIRT, but is misses one feature that our reporter ClearBI has ndash; the end-users can customize reports (grouping, filters, formatting) without help of IT crew.
I introduced myself to Jason, told him about our Flash Player based solution and gave him my card. He seemed interested.
After lunch, I was running two classes in a row totaling 2.5 hours. In the first part I “ve shown how to facelift your Java-based Web applications using Flex, and in the second part I demoed our Eclipse plugins ndash; Log4FX, Clear Data Builder and ClearBI reporter. This time I showed how our tools can utilize OpenAMF implementation of the fast AMP protocol to work from Flex on the front with POJOs on the back.
A couple of people stopped by after the presentation, asked about our company and professional services in projects that involve Java and Flex. We “ve exchanged business cards.
At the end of the day I went to the exhibition floor ndash; nothing beats free food and beer. Plus, I met in person Maher Masri, the guy behind MyEclipse. They have a new offering called Pulse, which sounds interesting. They “ll demo it to me next week. We “ve talk about some potential business together and exchanged cards.
On the way back to the parking garage, I stopped by at Williams Sonoma and picked a jar of coffee beans and a jar of a quality tea (remember that $25 certificate?).
Let “s talk the debit-credit now. To attend this conference I missed a day of work (lost earnings), have driven about 500 miles, and paid for two tanks of gas and the hotel. This is debit. On the credit side, I “ve got a couple of business cards, two jars of coffee and tea, and some blurry potential of new business in the future.
Was it worthwhile? Yes it was. Do not like these hassles? I hear you. Just get employed by a nice large corporation and you may be better off than me when it ‘s time to retire. But so far, I prefer a more active life, and if one of these networking events will turn into something big, I “ll leave you in the dust. Which way is the right one? I do not know.