Business of Software Europe 2018 is now less than one week away which means it’s a good time to do some final preparation! As someone who went last year and will be attending again this year, I thought I would share with you some tips that will help you get the most out of the conference.
1. Check transport
Make sure that you have a plan in place for how to get to the venue (and a backup plan just in case). In London this is relatively easy as there are a lot of options that are all very good.
The number one option I would recommend is the London Underground Tube network. The closest station is Barbican which is just a 5 minute walk away, though there’s also Moorgate (10 minute walk) and St Pauls (15 minute walk).
If you’re arriving on the Sunday, make sure you check the TFL status page as there are some line closures this weekend.
The Single fare finder is a good place to check your fare. You can save money by tapping in and out using a contactless debit card rather than buying a ticket at the machine. As an example, if you’re travelling from Heathrow to Barbican on the Sunday it would cost you £6 to buy a ticket at the machine or just £3.10 by tapping the yellow contactless card reader at the gates (and it’s quicker too).
Alternatively, black cabs are a good way to get around London (and are the only cabs you can request at the roadside). Failing that, there’s also Uber (who are currently on the naughty step and don’t have a license to operate in London but are still allowed to operate whilst their appeal is in progress).
If you’re travelling a long way, prepare some entertainment for the journey in advance and make sure your passport is up to date and that you know where it is if you’re coming from outside the UK.
2. Check the local weather
You can never predict what the weather is going to do, especially in the UK. The current (as of Friday 18th) forecast for next week is to be partly cloudy with highs of around 23c (73f) on Monday and 25c (77f) on Tuesday, so prepare accordingly!
3. Familiarise yourself with the venue(s) and local area
This year the conference is held at the Barbican center and the conference hotel is just 2 minutes down the road. The Jugged Hare and Chiswell Street Dining Rooms (the venues for evening networking) are also on the same road, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to go far wrong!
As with any conference, it’s also wise to do a bit of research about the local area if you’re not familar with it to see if there’s anything that is worth knowing beforehand. Is it notorious for street scams & pick pocketing, would it be unwise to turn right out of the hotel or go out past 8pm? London is generally very safe – none of those things should apply here.
4. Familiarise yourself with the speakers
Have a look at the speaker list and familiarise yourself with the topics that will be discussed. A bit of research here will give you some background knowledge that will help you get more out of the talks. Some talks might include some jargon or concepts you’ve not encountered before (especially if it’s your first time attending).
During the conference if you think one speaker is particularly good (or bad, which is unlikely as Mark Littlewood does a good job sourcing speakers) then it would be worth making a mental or physical note of this so that you can include it in the conference questionnaire at the end. That will help Mark when choosing speakers for future events.
5. Prepare for the hallway track
Consider what your goals are the for conference. Do you have any problems you’re currently trying to solve? Ideas you would like to hallway test? The BoS attendees are a knowledgable bunch and are always happy to offer advice and provide their opinion.
Make a plan for who you want to speak to and what you want to discuss. Have some answers prepared for questions you’re likely to be asked (e.g. What do you do? What are you working on? etc). Have a plan for how to gracefully exit a conversation if the need arises.
Is there anyone you spoke to last year that you would like to catch up with? Reach out to them to see if they are attending again this year. Post on social media that you will be attending and others may reach out to you. Follow @bosconference on Twitter as they retweet these messages.
Try to speak to lots of people, there is a wealth of knowledge to be gained! Try not to be too worried about who you’re talking to. Some people have had more success in the past than others, but everyone is friendly and knows that there is something to learn from everyone regardless of whether you’re just starting out or already have several successful software businesses under your belt.
6. Decide if you’re taking notes
Have a think in advance about whether you want to take notes. Some people like to make extensive notes, others just write down key things, some like to be present and in the moment (and just take photos of key things such as urls or contact details), some even make sketch notes. There are also usually collaborative notes that you may wish to contibute towards or make use of. Generally if there’s something worth knowing, the organisers make a note of it and make sure it goes out on Twitter and in the newsletter.
7. Be well rested
Be well rested and try to get an early night beforehand. It’s only 2 days but it can still be tiring being always on for those 2 days, especially if you’re not used to it or usually try to avoid crowded rooms!
Think about if you’re happy to stay up late, skip breakfast so you can lay in, or want to get up early so that you can start off your day in the gym.
8. Have fun
Finally, remember to enjoy the conference and have fun!
I hope you have found these tips useful! If there is anything I have forgotten then do please let me know and I will add it in. I’m attending the conference so say hello if you see me, I hope to see you there!
If it’s your first time attending you can get an idea for what to expect from an article I wrote last year summarising the experience. My Business of Software Conference Experience – BoS Europe 2017
This post was inspired by a recent episode of the Startups For the Rest of Us podcast (which I recommend!) which was itself inspired by a post by Justin Jackson about Microconf.