10 tips for VMworld 2011 newbies

Attending VMworld for the first time can be a bit daunting, so try these expert tips out

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Lunch is another great time to try and meet new people. Don't sit at the empty table; find one with people already seated and ask to join. The free lunch at these events are usually somewhat suspect in my opinion, so help the food go down with a dose of good conversation.

VMworld tip No. 3: Breakout sessions. Sign up for any breakout session you think you might want to attend. There are no standby lines this year; in order to get in, you need to be registered. The online scheduler will not allow you to book multiple sessions at the same time, so it is helpful in that regard. Use it to build your schedule, and make sure to print it out and have a hard copy. If you can add your schedule to your smartphone calendar, even better. Registering doesn't mean you have to attend, but keep in mind you are taking a slot away from someone else who might really want to attend that session. Choose wisely, and do your best to show up.

VMworld tip No. 4: Remember, most breakout sessions are being recorded. Don't feel as though you have to completely book your schedule up with back-to-back breakout sessions. When you return home, watch for the email from VMworld that explains how to view or download a video or slideshow presentation of the sessions that you missed (or want to see again).

VMworld tip No. 5: If there are any must-see sessions, be sure to sign up for them quickly so that they don't fill up and lock you out. If it is a popular session, check to see if it repeats at another day or time. Typically, hot sessions will repeat at least once during the show, and they may even get added as a new session later on while you are at the show. If it's already full, keep checking to see if a repeat session gets added at a later date. VMworld will put out a daily update that shows changes, additions, and deletions to the schedule. Be mindful of them.

VMworld tip No. 6: Be careful about scheduling back-to-back sessions. Remember, this is Las Vegas (translation: things will be spread out). The chances that one of your breakout session rooms is right next door to another will be slim, and you may not have time to walk from one location to the next. Also, lines will be long. Once again this year, you must be registered to attend a session, so you should have a seat available to you. But if you are late, you cannot always count on it.

VMworld tip No. 7: Try your hand at a VMworld lab session. VMware always does a fine job of trying to fulfill lab requests, but these are a hot-ticket item and fill up quickly. If you haven't seen a product up close and personal but want to get your hands on it, this is the place to do so. If you are a latecomer and find yourself out of luck getting access to that piece of technology in the lab, make sure to go to the exhibit hall and find a VMware booth where it's on display. It certainly won't be as much fun as going solo and getting your hands dirty without someone looking over your shoulder or swatting your hand away from the keyboard and mouse, but if nobody else is around, you might be able to score some quality time with the product with the help of a VMware employee or product expert.

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