TC15 is coming. With around a week left until conference time, you’re probably thinking that you have plenty of time to get everything together. You’ve already packed everything (you’re THAT excited), the travel logistics have long since been figured out and you’ve successfully pawned off your normal responsibilities to those miserable souls not attending the conference. What more is there to do?
While being well equipped and knowing the conference ins and outs is helpful, the real key to getting the most out of TC15 is getting in the right state of mind. TC15 is a massive conference with so much to do. You can meet as many people as you want, pack your day full of sessions and take the most detailed notes; but if you don’t stop to think why you’re really there and work to that end, it will be nothing more than a good time. That’s totally cool if that’s all you’re after, but a conference like this offers so much more. To help you hone in on making this experience something really worthwhile, we’re going to share some tips to steel your mind.
Above: Thousands of people came to last year’s Tableau Conference. This year, there will be even more.
1. Remember Why You’re Going
We’re guessing that if you’re making it to TC15, you or your organization sees some serious value in Tableau. We’re also guessing that there’s at least some expectation that you’ll return as a better Tableau user. Maybe you’re looking to sharpen a specific set of skills. Maybe you want to see how other organizations are using Tableau. Or, maybe you’re looking to connect with others who can help you on your Tableau journey. Whatever your intention for coming to TC15, remember it well. This seems like a no-brainer, but TC15 is so big and so much fun that losing focus is an easy thing to do. That’s ok, it comes with the territory, but remember that you came for a reason – fulfill it!
2. Set Some Goals
Once you pin down why you’re going, the next step is to set some goals. Again, the conference can steer you in a million different directions. There are lots of shiny things to distract you, but having a few core goals can help you maintain a little structure. These can be as simple as:
- Learn four new advanced techniques
- Learn more about that Tableau training you’ve been thinking about
- Finally figure out how to fix that broken dashboard
- Discover something to help you do more with Tableau (*cough* Power Tools for Tableau *cough*)
- Hand out 30 business cards
Whatever goals you set, put some thought into them. Ask yourself, “How will achieving this goal make Tableau easier or more useful for me once the conference ends?” Simply having something to work towards is a great way to get lasting value out of TC15.
Above: A Power Tools for Tableau demo in action during last year’s Tableau Conference.
3. Don’t Just Learn Something New …
Learn something relevant! There’s a lot of knowledge floating around at TC15. In fact, some of the smartest people in the world will be at this very conference! With so much knowledge in one area, it’s impossible for you not to learn something new. Learning is a given here, a natural byproduct. The real secret to making TC15 an impactful experience is by learning something relevant. That session on how Peruvian farmers are using Tableau to visualize the listening habits of corn might sound fascinating, but if you’re an analyst in the healthcare industry, for example, are you really taking away anything relevant? I’m not saying don’t branch out; just remember that your time is limited. The more you can tie what you learn back to what you do in the real world, the better off you’ll be when you return.
4. Don’t Waste Your Time
Look, it’s hard to say that any time spent at TC15 is time wasted. Still, there are certain things that are a better use of your time while you’re there. Hone in on that. For example, you may plan on going to some afternoon sessions, but everyone’s talking about cutting class to do whatever. The temptation is real, and with so much to do and see, it’s easy to get sidetracked. Just remember, yet again, why you’re at TC15. Remember your goals. Remember that you (or someone) paid to attend! Does cutting that session further that goal? If so, cut away! If not, stay on target.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t go exploring or trek off the beaten path – you totally should at some point. Just remember that there’s a balance. Also, while we’re on the topic of time, there will be a LOT of people at the conference who want a piece of your time, especially in the Expo Hall. You can learn so much from Tableau partners there, and the conversation is always great! Just remember, if it isn’t helping you get better at Tableau, it’s probably not worth your time.
Above: The Expo Hall is packed full of helpful Tableau partners, including us!
5. Be a Human, Not a Robot
This may sound crazy, given that this is a conference full of tech buffs, but PUT YOUR PHONE DOWN. While you’re at it, give your computer or tablet a rest (at least for a little bit). Social media is a great way to stay on top of conference trends or happenings, but remember that you’re actually AT the conference. Enjoy it organically. If you have your face in your phone the whole time, it’s entirely likely that you’ll miss out on quite a bit, including the nearly limitless opportunities to make new connections. Interact with people as much as you can. After all, this conference is the physical manifestation of the Tableau community. We all know what a great community it is, and TC15 is your best chance to become more tightly-knit into that community. So, step away from the devices and see things for yourself.
6. Have Fun
Ok, so the points thus far have been pretty stiff:
- Have a purpose!
- Set goals!
- Don’t waste time!
But, the most important point of them all is to have fun. Sure, you want to learn as much as you can. You want to make new connections. You want to become better at your job because of the conference. Even so, you absolutely want to have fun! That’s exactly what TC15 is – a whole lot of fun. Cut loose at Data Night Out. Hit up the casino while you’re in Vegas. Get hitched for all we care (maybe don’t do that). The point is that this is supposed to be an enjoyable experience. In fact, you actually retain knowledge better when you’re having fun. Emotions can be tied to learned concepts, giving you greater recall and allowing you to make more connections more easily. Fun is a force multiplier for learning if you’re intentional about the whole thing.
Remember, though, to strike a balance. If there’s anything that Tableau has taught us over the years, it’s that fun and learning don’t have to be mutually exclusive. TC15 is no different.
See You There!
Can’t hardly wait for TC15? Neither can we. We hope you find time to see us while you’re there. Our mission is to help you achieve your Tableau goals, and we can do that in several ways. Check out our Data Journey page to learn more about what we do and how we can help you do more with Tableau at TC15 and beyond.