Last year I attended Cisco Live! for the first time. It was an amazing technical conference and I learned a lot that I was able to take back to my company. Well worth the money spent. The thing is, it was more valuable as a personal trip. Sure I met a lot of people, got some cool swag, and had a blast, but I gained a huge list of people I would definitely call friends. Most of these people I knew from Twitter already but meeting them in person and sharing a drink (or 10 at Ri-Ra) took it to a whole new level for me. It really was a sad day when everyone separated to head home. Since then, my kids have played with @someclown‘s kids at Disneyland, @blakekrone has helped me through a huge decision on buying a wireless network, @IPv6Freely has tried to steer me towards a solid Juniper network as atonement for the network he installed, @amyengineer‘s husband has become my personal hero, and countless others have offered advice on countless topics. I’d like to think I’ve been able to return the favors at least a little bit, throwing in what I can to contribute.
It may be just me, but finding others that share the same interests and abilities when you’re a nose-to-the-keyboard networking nut is hard. Especially when you’ve moved across the country away from your hometown friends. Twitter makes it a lot easier, but Cisco Live ties it all up. There is no better way to motivate yourself than to surround yourself (virtually) with the best in the business and that is exactly what I have done. I am amazed at the level of people out there and try my best to keep up. If you’re an up-and-comer in networking, get on Twitter and get involved. Get to Cisco Live and meet people. It will be the best thing you can do for yourself and your career.
This year is going to be even better. There’s a huge list of people going (see the list over at Tom’s blog). If you’re not on it, you should be. I will be speaking in a session and sitting on a panel as noted in my previous post so feel free to drop into either one and heckle, I can take it.