2014 marks my fifth SharePoint conference. Crazy!

I recall attending my first in Seattle in 2008. At that time I knew very little about the SharePoint community. Back then, SharePoint was simply a technology that I was learning at work. The conference opened my eyes to the fact that SharePoint is a massive community of people, vendors, and technology. It's changed the way I looked at SharePoint.

Since 2008, I’ve gotten to know so many people and I’ve learned a lot about the third party ecosystem. I’ve also learned a lot about SharePoint; what it does well, what it requires add-ons for, how it can be best leveraged in a company, and a little bit about taming the beast itself.

With that, here is my top five list of things I’m going to focus on at the 2014 SharePoint Conference:

1. Yammer and Office 365

This year Yammer is likely to play a larger role, as is Office 365. I want to learn more about these technologies and how they play together. I want to know how to make the most of these technologies for our clients and I want to know about the roadmap for these within the Microsoft product stack. It’s a shifting world on this front and marks one of the biggest changes within SharePoint.

2. Meeting third-party vendors

This year, I am going to spend more time in the exhibition hall. SharePoint doesn’t do everything. It wasn’t designed to. SharePoint was designed to be supplemented by third-party applications to extend its functionality. Lots of vendors do an incredible job of this. My tip for the hall is: study up on a few key areas of functionality and focus on that. Determine what you want to learn about before you go. Maybe pick out a few key players in that space and go talk to them. It’s too big to see everything.

3. Speakers, speakers, speakers

This year, I’m going to spend more time listening to key speakers I’ve grown to love, in sessions and in general. Susan Hanley, Ruven Gotz, Sarah Hamill Haase, Dan Holme, Dux Raymond Sy, and Richard Harbridge are my kind of speakers. I want to hear from people who understand not only the technology, but the business rationale behind technology. If you find yourself falling asleep at those icky developer sessions, you might find these people incredibly interesting (and even if you’re an icky developer, these people are incredibly fascinating!). ;)

4. Getting to know other attendees

This year, I’m going to try hard to plan a few coffees with friends. I want to connect with people I talk to throughout the year, but rarely see in person. SPC is nuts. You can’t find people. Wifi is sketchy. Just make a plan before you go. SPC ends after four days, but these relationships last much longer!

5. Enjoying every hour

This year, I’m going to stay up a little later. I know that sounds funny, but you’re going to be exhausted by the end of SPC, no matter what. You might as well have fun doing it! SPC is about connecting with people and learning. It’s really difficult to connect with anyone while you’re in a session with 300 other people all intently trying to get their learn on, so stay up late. Have a pint. Talk shop and connect! And don’t forget to bring a good hangover cure, just in case.

Have fun and see you there!!

Follow Jay on Twitter at @jayincalgary for updates during the 2014 SharePoint Conference!

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