Right Here Right Now…my first VMworld

Sometimes you look back on pivotal moments in your career and you think…..what contributed to your network and your brand. Hand on heart I can say my first VMworld was a huge contributor to my brand. So why this article on #VMworldbeginswithme ??? Let me explain.

The year was 2012 and the tagline was “Right Here Right Now”. Now let’s be frank….I’d never attended any large scale conference before and had been into all things virtualisation since my ESX2.5 days but here was a conference I’d heard a lot about but couldn’t quite work out the relevance to my career. Yes I’d studied, done a few certs and also got to know people through social media but I always thought what a conference of thousands was actually going to do for me.

I wasn’t a big community advocate back in 2012 although I was beginning to see the merits of widening my personal ecosystem. The conference was really the icing on the cake. Managing to get approval from my boss at the time was a major milestone and then I basically booked as many sessions as I could (oh how I knew then what I know now). I also wanted to impress folk when I returned on what I’d learned.

Never having been to Barcelona was also an attraction in itself but my main driver for attendance was to see what the show floor was like and what would be revealed at the keynotes.

The Atmosphere

Holy smoke….registering and receiving my free backpack was a joy in itself (techie’s always appreciate SWAG !!) but seeing the droves of attendees registering at the Fira was an eye opener. Never had I seen so many people descend on 1 location in all my life. What on earth made everyone of these people attend an event built around VMware alone ???

The keynotes were inspiring and jaw dropping especially as Pat Gelsinger announced a raft of product and feature updates especially around vMotion. It was every techie’s dream to hear this all live. It really gave me an idea on how to excel at public speaking and how to use stage presence to captivate the audience. I also learnt that walking miles and miles each day was not going to be something I repeated at future events !!! Also the footwear was a key must have and luckily I’d read some advice notes from previous attendees to not forget some comfortable footwear.

The People

I had no idea on the power of networking until this 1st VMworld. I wasn’t a vExpert or a prolific blogger but I had the chance to meet some and also customers from various backgrounds and managed to make some new connections via Social Media and LinkedIn. You wouldn’t think that a conference is where you go to make connections or even the importance of this but it was vitally important looking back. Some of these people have been my good friends for many years and have helped me to realise the power of brand and community. VMworld 2012 was a real game changer for that aspect of my personal development.

The After Party

It’s always a treat hearing that a headline act will perform on an evening with food and drink laid on but I think I underestimated the extravagance that VMware had laid on.  A mini race track, lots of bright psychedelic colours and arcade machines. A good memory to look back on.

The other highlight was the exclusive Veeam event (being a Veeam customer at the time) meant a good evening at the Shoko and made many new connections that I’ve kept in touch with to date.

Why VMworld is an event like no other ?

It’s not just a jolly or somewhere you go to relax and chill from work. Everyone seems to have this impression but it’s an event that YOU tailor make to your needs. Everyone has something different on their goals and takeaways which is fine but it’s important to be clear about your objectives. Stepping out of your comfort zone and meeting strangers and feeling part of the community is a big step for most but this was the single defining moment that has put me on a path to be a brand ambassador. Looking back it now means that people who are 1st timers and like me now want to reach out to people like me when attending which seems strange as I was once that wide eyed inquisitive guy.

#VMworldbeginswithme is a great tagline for this event as it begun with me stepping into the unknown and has been inspirational on all my subsequent visits. It’s been a journey for sure and each year I strive to do something different and ensure my learning never stops.

My lasting memory will always be getting to know people on a scale that I thought was not going to do me any favours for my career and my network.

It has turned out to be the best decision I ever made.

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