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Guest Post: Traveling to Conferences

In the IT field, continuing education is critical to both personal and professional success; professional success should also translate into success for the businesses for which we work. Education can come in many forms, from reading books and trade magazines to attending classes and seminars. Doing any of these things on-line is fine; getting out of the office and sitting down next to your peers adds the additional benefit of connecting you with folks who may be struggling with the same challenges as you. You may also find that you are doing the helping, instead of being helped.

Attending a good conference is a way to get a concentrated dose of seminars and classes with a chaser of networking thrown in for good measure. And traveling out-of-town gives you the additional opportunity to set aside your normal routine and get immersed in the environs.

I typically budget for a couple of conferences each year, and I’ve been going to the same ones for a while. Contrary to any belief that “the same old stuff” is presented at annual meetings, the ones I’ve attended have updated, fresh things to learn every time; and as a bonus, I tend to see the same folks coming back, year after year. Not only does that make for great networking and friendships, it helps validate that the conference is a good one.

VMworld is one of those conferences, and I’m back for my fourth year.

It’s early yet for the schedule as I write this post; registration isn’t open for another 7 hours. But in the 14+ hours that I’ve already been here, I’ve reconnected with guys I’ve known for a while and met a bunch of cool, new folks who share my passion for IT and VMware. I’ve already learned some things, too.

Now don’t get me wrong: I’m here for the tech. But in the course of relaxing before the business of the conference gets going, I joined a number of fellow attendees at a sushi bar. For the folks that know me, I’m sure you’re surprised. I’m a straight-up steak-and-potatoes kind of guy, and the thought of eating little bits of raw fish and seaweed is kind of nauseating.

So I followed my own advice: when you get out for a conference, you set aside the routine and push yourself to learn something new.

As it turns out, I learned that sushi isn’t all bad; in fact, the “spicy tuna” was pretty darned good.

So this conference is off to an auspicious beginning: my travel wasn’t marred by weather problems (my condolences to all those folks affected by Irene!), and I’ve learned something that I’d have never learned had I skipped the conference and stayed home.

(In the spirit of full disclosure: after the sushi bar, I went to another restaurant and made a filling meal out of a more substantial dish.)

Jim Millard is a member of the KC VMUG Leadership team. You can follow his exploits in his blog or on twitter.