Taking a New Approach to Cisco Live 2014

It’s getting to be that time of year again when geeks across North America (and beyond) start getting excited for Cisco Live! The buzz is starting a bit early this year, but that’s because Cisco Live is about a month earlier this year (May 18-22) than it has been in recent years.


Many of the exciting details of the event have surfaced at this point, including the announcement of Salman Khan, founder of Khan Academy as the closing guest keynote speaker, and that the Customer Appreciation Event will feature Lenny Kravitz and the Imagine Dragons as musical acts. We’ve even seen this year’s backpack design, courtesy of a couple Tweets from Cisco’s Kathleeen Mudge:

Last year, I put together a post of Cisco Live tips, most of which are just as applicable this year as last. My personal approach, however, will be a bit different this year.

Plans vs. Reality

Due to some budgetary constraints this year, purchasing a full-access conference pass just wasn’t in the cards for me. However, I consider Cisco Live to be one of the most important industry events I can attend each year — the mix of Cisco personalities, industry celebrities, and real-world networking peers makes every moment of the event highly valuable to me.
However, after reviewing my own schedule from Cisco Live 2013, I concluded that as my industry visibility has grown (believe me when I tell you I’m saying that very much tongue-in-cheek…) and other events were opened to me I got to fewer breakout sessions last year than any previous despite scheduling about 10 of them. Between the CCIE NetVet reception, participating in a Tech Field Day roundtable event, recording a podcast with the Packet Pushers crew, and  several other worthwhile meetings I just didn’t make it to that many sessions. I further realized that each year, Cisco makes a huge majority of the technical sessions available either in PDF form or recorded video sessions, via Cisco Live 365.
With this in mind, I decided to purchase a Social Events pass (visible on the Registration Packages page) for myself for Cisco Live 2014, which grants me access to the keynote events, the World of Solutions, and all the official social functions of the conference. It does mean I’ll be on my own for meals and will not be able to attend any technical breakout sessions but at least I’ll be at the conference.

Focusing on Meatspace Networking

With the Social Events pass, I’ll have much more time to explore the World of Solutions. Many times I just don’t get a chance to really walk through the WOS floor and talk to vendors. So I’m going to fix that this year. I’m also going to take as much advantage as possible of Meet the Experts program to get some insight on complex issues and designs I run across.
I’ll also be trying to bend as many ears as I can and elbow my way into as many conversations as possible to network with other networkers, chat with the movers and shakers in the industry, and generally try to be in everyone’s face. If you’d like to get together and chat at Cisco Live this year, just hit me on Twitter or leave a note in the comments. Just be aware that even if you don’t invite me to do that, I’ll probably butt my way into your conversations anyway 😉
I’ll be interested to see if I derive as much value out of the conference this way as I’m expecting but I think the fact is that the real value in a gathering of 20,000+ network geeks is going to be in pressing flesh and actually connecting with people, not just reviewing a PowerPoint slide deck.
See you at Cisco Live!
UPDATE: Aaron Conaway has posted his own article as a “rebuttal” to mine with some things to keep in mind if you’re considering taking the Social Pass direction. It is well worth a quick read if you’re still deciding how to attend Cisco Live 2014.
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2 thoughts on “Taking a New Approach to Cisco Live 2014

  1. […] was just reading through Bob’s blog post from today and wanted to give a rebuttal of sorts.  In his post, Bob tells us that’s he’s going […]

  2. […] these this year, and it worked very well for meatspace networking and seeing the sites.  So did Bob.  And many others.  This was the trendy thing to do this year, and it was successful for sure. […]

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