AWS re:Invent Tips & Tricks Pt. 4

With the 2017 Amazon Web Services re:Invent conference just a week away, I think back to last year, my first time attending the conference, and reflect on how influential the experience truly was. Proudly looking back a year later, I’d like to share my reflection and a few tips and tricks for those attending this year and hopefully provide some meaningful takeaways for any first timers out there.

The week-long conference in Las Vegas attracts attendees from all over the globe. It is a melting pot of technologists, marketers, AWS experts, executives, and entrepreneurs, all with a different agenda and different levels of experience and interaction with AWS. Then there was me… brand new to the concept of public cloud and only somewhat knowledgeable about technology in general from my seven-month tenure at Relus. I was unsure of what to expect going in, and even less sure of what I would be able to take away.

Fast forwarding to re:Invent, I showed up ready to learn and ready to work, still wary of what the week had in store and praying that nobody asked me anything beyond the flashcards I had memorized about AWS basics and our consulting practice expertise and success stories. Walking into the sea of 30,000 attendees, I immediately felt a rush of energy and confidence. The crowd of attendees exuded an energy and excitement that was easy to emulate. While everyone has a different agenda, the commonality lies in yearning for knowledge, ideas and inspiration. I met executives from large global enterprises and had conversations about their plans to innovate and modernize IT. I met entrepreneurs, startups, lead architects, AWS product owners and software sales reps. These conversations established a strong foundation for my understanding of public cloud and its real-world application and importance to organizations large and small. As AWS levels the playing field and gives everyone an opportunity to unleash their fullest potential, I felt this in a personal way - that Amazon Web Services was my opportunity to engage with organizations in a meaningful way, and in turn begin my journey down a road of endless growth and potential.

You see, I think (especially for those of us in sales roles), that at conferences like this, the more effort you put in, the more you will gain. It can surely be a tiring week, but with some preparation and grit, the conference holds the key to setting yourself up for success in an ever-changing and competitive industry… where strength in knowledge and relevance is king. The more conversations you can have, beyond the booth and organized meetings, the more you will discover opportunities to create meaningful connections and find individuals and organizations that have synergies with what you can offer.

To ensure that you have the most successful week possible, here are a few tips & tricks, from a sales-minded perspective:

1. Talk to everyone

My best opportunities and relationships were established in conversations in line for coffee, at a blackjack table and during meals. It’s easy to hang by your colleagues, but this is key in making the most of your time there.

2. Wear comfortable shoes

You’ll easily clock between 7 - 10 miles a day, with a conference campus that expands several casinos. The conference is casual anyways, and it makes you more approachable. Also, it’s always a great idea to pack bandaids. Even if you don’t need them - you’ll make a best friend by having those handy.

3. Water, chapstick, lotion

The combination of the desert air and talking to people all day catches up to you. Be sure to consciously drink as much water as possible, and remember chapstick and face lotion can really be life savers.

4. Don’t be afraid to try

Attend sessions that you don’t think you’ll understand, ask questions you think might expose your level of AWS expertise. Everyone is helpful and kind, and there’s no better way to jump in and fully embrace the opportunity to learn.

5. Take notes

Not just at sessions and keynotes, but after all meaningful conversations and exchanges. Even the most exciting business opportunities are hard to remember after a week full of introductions and conversations.

6. Bring a portable charger

This is an important one. You’ll be on your devices all day, and a trip back to your room (wherever it may be) can really put a wrench in your schedule and productivity.

7. Extra Business Cards & LinkedIn

Make sure you have plenty of business cards to hand out, but don’t count on them remembering to reach out to you. Many people I met last year didn’t have business cards, so here’s a hack: pull out your phone and add them on LinkedIn with a quick note. If they are serious about following up and staying connected, they’ll be receptive to this and you’ll have a way to follow up.

8. Have fun!

This is an AMAZING event. There will be a multitude of ways to let loose for a bit and have some fun. If you do it right, you’ll be wiped by Thursday night, but don’t miss the re:Play party! There’s no better way to celebrate a successful conference week.

I hope this is helpful and I’m looking forward to sharing another AWS re:Invent experience with 42,000 fellow attendees! See you out there.