Outlook MVP Diane Poremsky and Visio MVP John Marshall are no strangers to the MVP Summit. Between the two, they’ve attended 23 total MVP Summits. We asked them to share a few tips for all those first-time summit attendees.
So you’re a first time attendee to the MVP Summit – what can you expect? Late nights getting to know your fellow MVPs, early morning sessions learning about Microsoft products. Putting faces and voices to people you see online and making new friends.
I know everyone has heard this a million times, but here it is again: Don’t break the NDA. Microsoft trusts us with their “secrets” and breaking that trust hurts all of us. Twitter will survive if you don’t tweet everything that happens at the summit. The blogging world won’t end if you don’t tell everything you know.
There will be “events” every night – in addition to the attendee party, MVP’s organize their own parties and dinners and it’s a great way to network with your fellow MVPs. Have fun, but not so much fun that you sleep through the first morning session.
Getting to know the members of the product teams face to face is well worth getting up early, even if you were out late the night before. As an added bonus, early risers have no lines, no waiting at breakfast. While you can have a table all to yourself at 6:30 AM, it’s a great time to meet new people and learn what the MVPs in other technologies are doing.
While Bellevue has nice shopping and restaurants near the hotels (including a Microsoft store), if you have a chance to go into downtown Seattle, take it! It is a beautiful, walkable city. Pike Place is a great place to spend a couple of hours or an afternoon.
At the airport, look for people with MVP logos on their coats, bags, scarfs, hats, canes. They probably have attended a summit before. Say hi and make a friend. You may be able to share a cab to Bellevue.
There are two Microsoft stores you can go to during the summit. The first one you will come across is the one in Bellevue Square and the second will be on campus next to where the buses will drop you off. The campus store has employee prices, but limited selection. You will be given a certificate to spend up to $150 of your money on items in the campus store. Items with logos are not counted against your limit. The Bellevue square store has a bigger selection (not all Xbox games are made by Microsoft). Go to both stores and if you have a chance, join other MVPs at the Bellevue Square store for Consumer Camp on Saturday February 16th.
Go down for breakfast early and take your time talking to the people at your table. Some of the activities will occur on campus, so there will be a shuttle bus from the hotels to campus. In the past, the hotels were in Seattle and traffic meant a long bus ride. Though the trips are now quicker, take advantage of that time and talk to your fellow passengers or those waiting to board the bus. One of the best reasons for going to summit is meeting people. There will be a few thousand MVPs at the summit, try to meet as many as you can. Even after the evening events, groups of MVPs will still be gathering to talk.
Find out when your region is hosting their night and meet fellow MVPs from your country. When you go to the product group dinner, mingle with some of the other product groups.
There is a sky bridge from the Grand Hyatt to the Westin hotel. Though anyone can go from the Westin to the Grand Hyatt, you will need a Westin room card to get from the sky bridge corridor back into the Westin.
If you get a chance, go into Seattle and wander around Pike’s Market.
Basically, meet people and have fun.
I sure hope the Microsoft Store in Bellevue has the Surface Pro in stock!
Diane and I are old friends and it is interesting that without discussing it, both of us have similar ideas on the summit. - Make connections and have fun. I echo her comments about the NDA. Respect the NDA. It is a simple way to say thanks to the product team, MVP team and the other MVPs.