Tuesday, January 24, 2012

SharePoint Saturday Austin Wrap Up

Update on February 3, 2012: I have added the Introduction to Content Query Web Part that I presented at this event.  Click on the "Attachment" above this text.


SharePoint Saturday Austin (#SPSAusTx) was a fantastic event! 

In the last year I have been to 8 SharePoint events and I have to say this was the best that I have been to, and not just because this was my first time being a presenter J.  I am an extremely strong supporter of these free community events and have written about my top 5 reasons you should attend a SharePoint Saturday. 

I’ll try not to be long winded…so in honor of the Women of SharePoint Panel held at this event…I’ll bullet point the reasons why (not in any particular order, they are all #1’s):

·         The Facility – The AT&T Conference Center was beautiful, clean and well organized.  The sleeping rooms were fantastic and the meeting rooms were the perfect size to accommodate the large number of attendees. 

·         The Food – The smorgasbord included healthy alternatives, Texas treats, sandwich stuff, salads, soups, yummy desserts way too much to mention everything.  It was beautifully presented and I believe the best buffet I’ve ever had. 

·         The Weather – yes, it really stank that some of the best speakers got snowed in but it was 7 degrees when I left Chicago and 70 when I got to Austin, so that makes it on this list, sorry Christian Buckly (@buckleyplanet) and Dux Raymond Sy (@meetdux) you were missed and I look forward to seeing you at the next event!

·         The Organization – Jim Bob Howard (@jbhoward) and Matthew Lathrop (@MatthewRAX) did a fantastic job period!  When you add the last minute pulling-in resources to replace the speakers that Snowpocalypse kept away, it was just amazing.  They claimed there were other issues, but they hid them well because I can’t think of anything that wasn’t right.

·         The Entertainment - Austin is a great town with some great entertainment…when you add a bunch of SharePoint geeks in there…I just can’t think of anything better!

·         The Networking / Social Aspects – There was a great assortment of presenters and attendees.   I can’t tell you how awesome it is to have a beer and talk SharePoint and not have your friends look at you like you’re a geek…yes, I KNOW that makes me a geek…but I will happily admit I’m a huge SharePoint geek and talking about it is just FUN for me!

·         The Speaker Dinner – It was my first one, so I don’t have anything to compare it to, but the more experienced speakers said it was a good one too!  We were bussed to Salt Lick BBQ which was fantastic!  I was thrilled to meet a Microsoft MVP Legend, Bill English (@MinnesotaBill) who promised to come speak at our Chicago User Group one day. 

·         The Women of SharePoint Women’s panel – I had the honor of sitting next to 5 amazing women to answer some thought-provoking questions about being a Woman in a Male-Dominated technology industry.    I believe every SharePoint Saturday would benefit from having some kind of Panel Discussion, not just a women’s or leadership panel, but any kind of panel.  It was really interesting to see and hear different answers/perspectives to the same question.

   -  The panel included myself (@chomp1313), Nedra Allmond (@NedraAllmond), Marcy Kellar (@Marcy Kellar), Mistry Rodriguez, and Tiffany Songvilay (@OfficeOverEasy). 

   -  Suzanne George (@SPGenie) did a fantastic job of moderating, in spite of the Chuck Norris joke.   We had some great interactions with a wonderful audience!

          *   Note: the bullet point reference at the beginning of this post is referring to the fact that women have a tendency to want to over-explain in long emails ;-)


·         The Presenters – As always, the presenters were top notch.  There was a great mix of experienced presenters and new presenters, like me.  I really love how supportive the community is of each other.  We all work for different companies doing various things.  Some companies may even compete against each other, but there is none of that here and I love it!  This community is truly unique in the way that we all support and help each other.

·         The Attendees – The attendees at this event are always such a good mix of users / providers at every level.  These great conversations between sessions, at lunch and at SharePint remind me a few key points about SharePoint in general:

   -  No one knows everything about every aspect of SharePoint…I believe it is impossible - we all need to specialize in a few key areas and rely on others to specialize in others. That's why we all work so well together.

   -  What seems easy to you is not easy to someone else with different experiences and vice versa

   -  There are still people that are just starting out in SharePoint…remember them, they are important

   -  There are several different ways to reach the same goal in SharePoint, the way you succeed depends on process and the user...make sure the end user is a part of the process

·        Presenting - This was the first time I have presented at a SharePoint Event, thanks to Jim Bob Howard's insistence that with 10+ years of SharePoint experience I must have something to say.  I had the honor of being able to present an Intro to Content Query Web Parts session. There were a few technical difficulties (user error) and the crowd was extremely helpful and forgiving. The positive feedback I received removes any hesitation I ever had about speaking in public…which is something I never aspired to before. However, SharePoint is something I’m very passionate about and I love talking about it!  I am hooked and I will be submitting again! 

Well, that pretty much wraps it up.  If you’re reading this and you missed it…try to get there next year…it is well worth it!  Any of them are, I can honestly say I haven't been to a "bad" one yet.  Here's a link to the site to find the closest one to you:  http://sharepointsaturday.org/default.aspx


Past SharePoint Events I have been to since I discovered the awesome SharePoint Community 2011:

1.       SPS St. Louis

2.       SPTechCon - Boston

3.       SPS Houston

4.       SPS Chicago

5.       SPS New York

6.       SharePointFest Chicago

7.       SPS DC

8.       SPS Austin