Tech Field Day from the Other Side

Last month I accomplished my dream of becoming a Tech Field Day delegate for #TFD20. Because I left my job at VMware in order to launch Digital Sunshine Solutions, I finally no longer work for a vendor and I qualify to be a delegate! This post is a reflection on the differences between being at a vendor and hosting Tech Field day and being a delegate.

Tech Field Day history

For those of you who don’t know, Tech Field Day is a roving event run by Stephen Foskett. 10 years ago, when we were all figuring out what blogging and podcasting meant to big tech companies, he had the vision to take influencers who were talking technically and strategically about products on their personal blogs and podcasts right to the vendors. This gave vendors the opportunity to explain the products and processes, as well as meet this new type of advocate/influencer. Stephen paved the way for enthusiastic, independent influencers the same recognition as analysts and press have always received. Smart vendors welcomed his travelling crewe into their inner circle.

My first time as a delegate

The reason I’ve never participated before: I’ve always worked at a vendor! You can see from my Tech Field Day Delegate page that I’ve participated as a vendor and blogger since the beginning of Tech Field Day. I’ve been responsible for organizing and hosting as a vendor and let me tell you that was no small accomplishment at the time!

Experiencing Tech Field Day as a delegate was exponentially more challenging than following or even hosting as a vendor. Most days we needed to be downstairs before 7. So I was up early to go to the gym and put on makeup. I hate wearing makeup, but my good friend Polly has been playing with a YouTube channel and let me know that if you’re on camera, you need makeup. She is probably right.

We traveled to several vendors a day, hearing their current pitches. Some were amazing, some could have been better. Everyone was very nice though, and treated us like VIPs. After a full day of presentations (we went from 7 – past 5 every day), there were dinner and socialization activities.

My view from the Tech Field Day delegate table

I have known most of the other delegates for a long time (decade even). Talking about the technical and business challenges brought up by the vendors really did bring us together in a community for the week.

What’s in it for vendors

Since I’ve worked for a vendor, I know how hard it can be to secure the funding to bring Tech Field Day to your company. In case you had any reservations, let me put your mind at ease: every single delegate is very keen to hear, understand, and discuss what you’re presenting. There was so much experience in our set of delegates that we had some very vigorous discussions about what you presented. I’m just now getting around to writing blog posts, because I needed the time to reflect and research a bit before I put pen to paper.

The food and swag all were nice, but we were honestly most interested in what your speakers had to say. A couple of the presentations were a little rough, and we found out later that the folks presenting were tapped at the last minute. This is no disrespect to those presenters, but vendors you really want to ensure that you have your guru in the room. Even if they are a little rough, just coach them on what not to say. Let them get up there and geek out. Having folks present that are super safe because not as comfortable with material as they would have liked, or worse sticking to a script is very frustrating, I know this can happen when someone is asked to cover at the last minute. It just leaves you with this feeling that the really good stuff is missing.

The Tech Field day event has always been such a good blend – mixing curious, experienced techies with the product people who want feedback and input to their product strategy. If you have a new message or launch you would like to test, Tech Field Day is a great vehicle for that.

Participate in the Tech Field Day Community

There are so many ways to participate in the Tech Field Day community! To start with, you can watch all of the events live online from the Tech Field Day website. If you’re a vendor, you can become a sponsor and have the delegates live at your location. If you’re an independent techie, maybe one day you can also live the dream.

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