Why pacing yourself, packing business cards and buying a few beers is crucial

How will you transform your first OpenStack Summit into an accelerator for your career and your projects in development? And how will you make it happen without getting lost among thousands of other community members?

Here are some great tips from OpenStack Foundation senior marketing manager Heidi Joy Tretheway and three Summit veterans: Shilla Saebi, an OpenStack operations engineer at Comcast, Niki Acosta, OpenStack evangelist at Cisco, and Matt Fischer, principal engineer at Time Warner Cable.

If there’s just one thing every newbie should do at their first Summit, it’s…

Acosta: Meet people! It’s easy—and often more comfortable—to just hang out with the people your work with, but push yourself to go meet new people.

Tretheway: I make meeting people a game so that I don’t just meet people who seem easy to approach. I set goals such as meeting everyone wearing a messenger bag, or everyone wearing cool shoes. My opening is as simple as, “Hi, I wanted to come over here and introduce myself because I’m new to OpenStack.”

Fischer Take the time to thank someone who fixed a bug for you or better yet buy them a beer. You cannot underestimate the value of having a beer with someone you’ve only previously met online. I cannot emphasize this enough.

How can a newbie make the most out of their Summit experience for their own professional development and career?

Saebi: While at the conference, look for takeaways that you can share with your team when you return. Turn them into something actionable. Use social media to connect with others and bring business cards for networking.

Fischer: Say hi to the speakers after they talk. I did this at my first Summit when I heard a talk on using LDAP with Keystone and now I talk to those guys all the time. Business cards are especially helpful here, because speakers might have 10 people waiting. Say, “Hey, thanks for the talk. I’d love to email you about _____ if that’s OK.”

Tretheway: Don’t just listen for how someone can help you—listen for how you can help them. Offer to introduce them to someone you know, to email them a helpful link, or to grab them a soda when you go to get one. People respond to warmth and generosity in amazing ways.

Any warnings, blunders or suggestions on what not to do?

Fischer: Don’t make assumptions about people’s roles at work or in the OpenStack community based on how they look or dress. Ask!

Acosta: Pace yourself. With activities and events all day and all night, it’s not uncommon to want to sleep through the important stuff.

This article originally appeared Superuser’s print edition distributed at the Tokyo Summit. The interviewees organized a panel at the Summit that you can catch on YouTube.

Cover Photo // CC BY NC