My Guide to the JAMF Nation User Conference

A post on the lively JAMF Nation discussion boards inspired me to sum up my thoughts in a blog post.

Every year, Macadmins and JAMF Software customers descend upon Minneapolis, MN for one of the largest Macadmin conferences, the JAMF Nation User Conference. This year is going to be my second year attending and first year speaking. It’s a great combination of informative sessions, great networking opportunities, and plenty of after hours events. Just check out last year’s recap video.

Sessions and What To Do: Traditionally, look at last year for example, the Guthrie Theater has three stages where talks happen; small, medium, and large. So there are three events going on at once with breaks in between. Use the breaks to network with other Macadmins. It’s much better than racing from one room to another. Don’t worry about the Wi-Fi working or not, you’re here to learn and build relationships. Right now (August 30th) a preliminary list of sessions has been released (including yours truly) and more will be coming soon, along with a schedule.

Weather/Transportation: I was comfortable, and a cliche Macadmin, with just my hoodie and jeans. There’s a light rail for a few dollars from the airport that will get you downtown. For Uber, the pricier Black is at the airport ($60) but around town UberX was cheap. ($6 one way) I’ve heard good things about the bike rental system Nice Ride MN. Fellow Macadmin Emily Kausalik has created a neat Google Maps of sights and businesses in city.

To bring: A small shoulder bag for your laptop and misc, plenty of business cards (you’re here to network), and a portable battery for your iPad or iPhone.

Misc To Do: Be sure to give yourself time to exercise or enjoy the pool at the hotel if you’re the type, there’s also a casual 5k you’ll see on the Mini Events page. Guthrie Theater is steps away from the Aloft Hotel, you can always find Macadmins there in the evening. They have a bar and lounge along with table games and an outdoor fire pit. Also close to the Guthrie is Grumpy’s and Day Block Brewery which are great places to get food and drink. This year (2015), There’s a Monday night meetup at Grumpy’s and Macbrained is having their meetup on Tuesday night at Day Block Brewery. Again, check out the mini events page for attendee driven activities, even make your own if you want!

For sessions, come with a purpose and you’ll get the most ROI out of them. All session videos are posted later online. Pick the sessions that you think you’ll react on as soon as you get home, or those you see yourself asking questions at. When asking questions, rank them in this way:

  1. Important questions to help your understanding that you think others will benefit from hearing
  2. Questions that’d be nice to ask, especially when there aren’t many questions for the speaker
  3. Questions that aren’t really questions but you just want the microphone to make yourself sound smart

Please avoid number three.

When taking notes–

Wait.. is he really telling us how to take notes..

Yes! Good note taking makes the session more enjoyable and your post-conference to do list easier to create. For a conference like JNUC, the session videos will be posted soon after so you can always reference them in the future, so don’t worry about getting everything. Write down the title of the talk so you can search Evernote/Google Drive easily along with the author’s name so you can find them later on JAMF Nation, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Then simply write just the important bullet points under a Key Insights header, then at the end of the talk or in the evening, write an Action Items header. Actions Items are the things you’ll implement, improve, or begin doing as a result of seeing this talk. This will help when you return to the office so you can remember everything and quickly build a to do list to get to work. Often you return and quickly go back to the daily grind, not implementing the awesome ideas and practices you’ve just learned. You’ll also be able to send your manager an email showing everything you’ve learned so they can understand the ROI they’ve gained by you attending.

Most important at any conference, talk to people. We’re all here for the same reasons, solving a lot of the same problems. If you find me during the conference, be sure to say hello.