Cisco Live – Why?

So, we’re sitting at five months until the starting point of my favorite event of the year, Cisco Live. Since you’re reading this, I’m going to give you my thoughts on why this is my favorite event of the year, along with how my perception of what Cisco Live is has changed since I first attended it in 2011.

At my first CLUS in 2011, I was overwhelmed. I hadn’t been a network engineer very long, and I was very intimidated by the number of extremely knowledgeable people who were all over Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. If it’s your first time attending, trust me, we’ve all been there and it is very easy to get lost in the crowd and not know what to do or where to go. One thing that I’ve learned is that the people at CLUS are extremely helpful. This doesn’t just go for the people working the event. If you have a question, look for someone with the NETVET flag on their badge. These are people who have attended at least 3 of the last 5 events, and they will help point you in the right direction.

Another evolution of Cisco Live has been that of social networking, and it has played a huge part in why this event is what I look forward to every year. The social networking aspect, mainly Twitter, is what helped me get out of my introverted shell, albeit very slowly, over several years and actually start to talk to people in person that I’d talked to online for years. If you go with co-workers, I’d highly recommend not just staying with people who you are around the other 51 weeks of the year, but rather start up a conversation with some random people. This is truly geek nirvana, and you will find someone who has the same passions as you do if you look for it.

If you decide to take the plunge and get the full conference pass, you will have a selection of hundreds upon hundreds of sessions to choose from, and you will wonder how you’re supposed to decide what to go to. My advice: Pick a couple of topics that you are very interested in, and look for sessions that hit those areas first. Maybe pick a couple that are completely outside of your normal wheelhouse. The great thing is, most sessions are recorded or have been presented at past events and are available to watch on CiscoLive365 any time. One thing that I’ve also learned over time is that if you really are interested in a topic, get to the session early and sit at the front. All the way in the front. Engage with the speakers, ask questions, talk to them afterwards. There are amazing resources, but mostly, amazing people who are passionate for technology, and to get the most out of CLUS you need to make it as interactive as possible.

I’ve been given so many opportunities because of Cisco Live and engaging in the social aspects that have come along, especially over this past year, that I still wonder how I’ve found myself involved in them. From Cisco Champions to Tech Field Day to RouterGods, I’ve been able to find an online community that just doesn’t exist where I live. I guess my closing advice for Cisco Live would be this: Get out of your comfort zone, find new people, talk to them, and make sure to keep in touch after the event.

Click here to sign up for Cisco Live 2017
(Note: I’m participating in the Social Media contest for Cisco Live 2017, so there’s an embedded link ID for me in that link.)