I wrote A First Timer's Guide to DrupalCon two years ago, and 99% of the advice in that post is still relevant. I've been preparing my presentation DevOps for Humans: Ansible for Drupal Deployment Victory! for a few months now, and since DrupalCon is less than a week away, I thought I'd take a few minutes to supplement the earlier post:
- Introduce yourself. As @amitaibu said earlier this week, "That group you see me with, and you are reluctant to approach since we look like such old friends? We probably met each other for the first time last DrupalCon, or maybe an hour ago. Don't be shy, say hello. We are on our way to a Sushi place, and you joining us would be perfect." DrupalCon is one of the best networking events in the tech world. Approach people and say hello, tell them you love their podcast, or blog posts, or module, or theme, or just that you have some idea you'd like to share. We'd love to talk!
- Don't be a hermit, even if you're an introvert like me. After the sessions are over, between sessions, and even during session time slots where you might not be interested in a session, go talk to other people, go to a BoF (Birds of a Feather) gathering, or hack on something in a common area.
- Learn something new. Every year, on the plane ride to DrupalCon, and on the day before/after the 'Con, I try to expand my horizons just a little; one year I spent some time working on a Node.js app. Another year I built the foundations for Server Check.in. Some people think they're paying a few hundred USD to attend DrupalCon and simply learn about Drupal. I know I'm paying that money to take a week to make myself a better developer, and Drupal a better CMS/CMF!
- Enjoy Austin. I've been to most of the larger cities in Texas, but never Austin. I hear the food is great, and the environment has a lot to offer; make sure you eat some food from local places, and take a little time to relax and explore the host city.
Besides the practical things I mentioned in my First Timer's Guide, there are many intangibles that will make your experience at this year's DrupalCon amazing. Try to meet new people and explore new areas this year!