Last year was my first time attending WWDC and I can easily say that it was one of the most enjoyable weeks of my life. My geek squee didn’t shut off from the moment I left SYR until about 3 months after I returned.
I’ve been meaning to put together an attendee guide since I got back, so I figured what better time than two days before I leave for WWDC again this year.
Pack jeans, t-shirts, and hoodies/sweatshirts/long sleeve shirts. San Francisco is not warm. It was typically between 50º and 65º the entire week last year.
Stand in line for the keynote. I had a great time standing in line with people I had only known online and who have become good friends.
Meet people. Many of us geeks are shy and that’s OK, but do yourself a favor and try to break out of your comfort zone and say hi to someone you don’t know. Easy conversation starters include, “Where are you from?”, “What have you worked on?”, and “Wanna see my Steve Jobs tattoo?”
Find a group to hang out with. I had a really great group of folks that I stuck with for most of the conference last year and it made it a much more enjoyable experience. Go to parties with them, sit with them in sessions, but don’t be exclusive. Remember to say hi to other folks too.
Go to the sessions. Plan ahead of time by looking at the session list and see which ones interest you and try to hit all of them. There is some amazing information presented in these sessions so soak it all up. The videos that are made available after the fact are great, but only cover about 50% of what you will get by actually sitting through it.
When you sit down in each session plug your laptop into a power strip and plug your iPhone into your laptop. Yes, even if it doesn’t need it. With the amount of tweeting and texting you will be doing you will be testing the limits of your iPhone battery every single day. NEVER waste an opportunity to charge it.
Stay hydrated. Drink lots of lots of water to help keep your energy up. If you do this one simple thing you will not tire out the entire week.
Charge your laptop and iPhone over night every night. It gives you a good jump on the day.
Use the labs. The labs are basically free DTS incidents where you get to sit face-to-face with the Apple engineers that wrote the code that you are using to create amazing things. Ask them to help you work out an issue that you’ve hit. If you haven’t already done so, start a list of WWDC Lab Questions so that you’re prepared. If you aren’t working on anything or don’t have questions of your own, see if a friend (or a new friend) would mind if you tag along to their lab session. You will learn something.
. Eat the free lunch. I had heard horror stories about the lunches at WWDC, but to be perfectly honest they were pretty good. Sit with folks you don’t know, strike up a conversation, and enjoy the free food. Even if you think the meal sucks, chances are the conversation won’t.
. Go to the bars and go to the parties. Do not go back to your hotel room for more than 15 minutes after the conference ends for the day. Get changed (if needed), take a few minutes to stretch out on the bed and relax, then get your sneakers on and get back out the door. (see #3 above). Even if you are not normally a barfly or even if you don’t drink at all, get out there with a Pepsi in your hand and talk to people.
. Do not get hammered every night. Enjoy the company with a drink or two, but don’t get blitzed. You want to be on your game for the full day of sessions the next day and you don’t want to waste a day puking and avoiding solid foods.
. Use Twitter. Do a standing search for the #wwdc hashtag and get to the good parties and bars.
. Nervous about talking to some of the famous folks in the Mac and iPhone programming world? Buy them a drink and don’t be shy about it. I have yet to see anyone decline free booze at WWDC.
. Bring and handout business cards. Or anything that has your name and info on it. Something that helps me remember who you are. Yes, say what you want about handing out pieces of dead trees and I will no doubt agree with you, but to be perfectly honest the only people that I really remember from WWDC last year are the people with whom I exchanged business cards. When you get back to your hotel for the evening make a note on the cards you received to help you remember something about the person.
. Email the people that you met when you arrive back home. When I got back to SYR I sent out a mass email to everyone whose email address I had acquired just to say “hi” and tell them that I had a great time meeting them. I’ve also emailed this same group a few times during the year just to drop them a line and let them know what I’m working on. It’s a good way to keep in touch.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but these are the things that really stick out to me from last year. Enjoy and I hope to see you there!