Autodesk University 2010 - Survival Guide

I’ve posted Tips and Tricks for surviving (and making the most of) Autodesk University before:

But, this year, I shared a few (some old, some new) via my twitter account, so, I’d like to compile them all here:

#AU2010 Tip #1: Wear comfortable shoes.

Tip #2: see Tip 1.

Tip #3: see Tip 2.

Tip #4. see Tip 3.

Tip #5: see Tip 4.

Tip #6: see Tip 5.

Tip #7: see Tip 6.

Tip #8: see Tip 7.

Tip #9: see Tip 8.

Tip #10: see Tip 9.

#AU2010 Tip #11. Travel light during the conference (Keep your hands free for shaking. Also, flexibility is key for unexpected networking invites), don't carry anything you don't really have to.

#AU2010 Tip #12: Take A LOT of notes. Don't assume you'll remember any of it, because it's a lot of information to consume in a very short period of time. Trust me. I mean it. You’ll take it for granted that a fabulous tidbit will be stuck in your brain forever because it’s so mind-wobblingly useful, but, trust me… WRITE IT DOWN.

#AU2010 Tip #13: Bring plenty of business cards. Sure, there are prize drawings in the exhibit hall, and vendors you’ll want to keep in contact with, but, you'll also be meeting new and interesting people. (When you exchange business cards, have a pen to scribble a note on the back of their card; just a reminder about why your conversation was interesting, or what feature/project you discussed together. Don’t assume you’ll remember, after all of the information you take in at an event like AU, it’s better safe than sorry… take notes.)

#AU2010 Tip #14: Being shy is a waste of time. 
Right, many of us are... socially awkward (myself included, believe me). Just choke down the fear & strike up some conversations, sit at a mostly full table, offer to get someone a drink while you’re up, ask about current projects they’re involved in, and whether they’ve learned anything they can’t wait to get back home and try. No matter how shy you are, once you find something in common with someone interesting, you won't be able to shut up. 
And, I guarantee, you've got tons in common with the other attendees.

#AU2010 Tip #15: Ladies, If a ‘new friend’ is being a little too friendly, find the nearest female & pretend you know her, and simply must hear her opinions on X Autodesk product. I’m sure she’ll understand and will keep you from having to be alone with anyone making you uncomfortable.

#AU2010 Tip #16: Never pass a beverage station! It is DRY there, grab water all day & bring some lip balm!!! (Trust me, take at least two drinks off a beverage table, one for now, one for 30 minutes from now once all the new moisture has evaporated.)
The Raster Design Queen, Jane Smith, has been kind enough to hand out gifts of hand lotion and lip balm to some of the AUGI Volunteers a couple years ago, which was the best gift ever, I must say.

#AU2010 Tip #17: Fill out your course surveys, so Autodesk knows what we like. Be fair, be specific but be honest. They WANT to know who the good and bad instructors are, so they can retain the good ones for the next year, or find replacement for the ones that missed the mark.
(A note to presenters: If you're curious, the things I'm most likely to complain about are those who advertise one class, but, never hit the topics I came in for. Next, I expect you to teach the product you're signed up for, not teach your add-on-software (available for purchase) cause that's a wee bit spammy and a waste of my time since I don't use your software. Finally, know your audience! E.g., if you're speaking in a Facility Management class and you start talking about how clueless Owners are... you probably missed the vital step of asking who is in your audience and wrongly assumed they were all consultants... I saw a few offended and irritated owners last year, including myself.)

#AU2010 Tip #18: Check out the #AUGI Annual Meeting even if you're not an @AUGI member. Good user stories & product Wishlist handovers (AutoCAD, Revit, Inventor, AutoCAD Architecture, MEP products, etc).

#AU2010 Tip #19: The #AUGI Beer Bust serves non-alchoholic drinks, too, so, grab your free mug & mingle! There are plenty of non-beer drinkers there. Take the Top DAUG Contest at the AUGI booth and you'll be sure to see plenty of faces from the forums or AUGI publications you'd like to say 'hi' to.

#AU2010 Tip #20: Try to find some Usability studies to participate in. They're a great way to share your experience. ( @AutoCADResearch )

#AU2010 Tip #21: Make a sticker to wear with your Twitter handle, @AUGIForums UserName, etc, so your online friends can positively ID you.
I go by Wanderer on most discussion groups, and my avatar may be too small for folks to recognize me for sure (especially if I change my hairstyle and wear glasses instead of contacts like I did last year).

Brian H responded to my Tip #15 about inappropriate ‘personal mingling’, so I stated a hypocritical #AU2010 Tip #22: if a guy does NOT talk to you, forge ahead and talk to him anyway... In all seriousness, don't let shyness stop you from connecting with people, just be sure to pay attention to body signals. 
If someone is crossing their arms and repeatedly looking for the nearest door to escape... let them. 
However, if they're staring at their shoes and mumbling their replies to you, they're probably just shy, be friendly and let them proceed at their own pace.

#AU2010 Tip #23: For coffee drinkers (or any beverage, really). 
Bring a travel mug, your coffee will stay warm & you won't have to worry setting it down. I keep my empty mug in the 'water bottle' mesh pocket of my handy-dandy AU2001 backpack (still going strong), and fill it up in the morning at the beverage station. 
When I sit in a classroom, I can put it under my chair, without any worry that it will tip over... if someone bumps it, it has a sturdy lid and won't make much of a mess.
Last year was the first year I thought to do this, and I only wish I'd thought of it sooner.

#AU2010 Tip #24: Seriously, follow the #AU2010 Hashtag on Twitter (even if you don’t tweet, if you’ve got a web-enabled device, check it out), it's how I kept up with events last year.

#AU2010 Tip #25: You might want to carry your phone charger with you. 
Taking photos, google searches, email, jotting down notes (or, if you're Shaan Hurley, you might feel compelled to drain your battery making mooooooo sounds)... you, or someone nearby, will drain.
(Thanks again to Richard Binning and Peter Jamtgaard, who loaned me their chargers during last year's event, I appreciate it. 
I’m currently trying to figure out how to turn my charger into jewelry, so I can just wear it all day.)

#AU2010 Tip #26: Try to eat a lot at lunch. 
There is so much talking during the evening mixers, you might not have time to take many bites.
This may sound silly or farfetched, but, I'm serious.

#AU2010 Tip #27: Sleep is for wimps, save it for the flight back home. ;-)

It’s is a compressed week made up of very long days. Try to get to as many mixers as you can after classes, but, obviously, you can’t be everywhere at once (darn you folks for scheduling everything cool at the same times, I think AU needs to be at least 7 days long to fit everything in).


William Stang said...

Great stuff! Very excited to make it back to AU after a 4 year break. See you there. Bill

Mistress of the Dorkness said...


Thanks! :-) It's always a good time, glad you'll be able to make it back this year.

R.K. McSwain said...

Yea, but what kind of shoes should we wear...? But seriously, thanks for the reminders. Is the distance between classes and hotel rooms about the same as when it was at the Venetian?

What is your recommendation on laptops? Carry them around all day?

Lastly, a good time to avoid #14 is at lunch. Find a table with people you don't know.

Mistress of the Dorkness said...


Personally, I favor a black engineer's boot, easy on and off at airport security, and goes with formal and casual attired. ;-) I definitely recommend you avoid stiletto heels.

~dusting off memory~ I haven't been to the Venetian since 2007, but, I think it's actually slightly further to the Mandalay Bay conference area.

Recommendation on laptop... definitely not. I take mine for working in my room, maybe for a meeting or two, but, otherwise, I just depend on my mobile device (the iPhone slips into the back of a name badge holder quite nicely, keeping hands free).
If you're one who likes to take notes on your pc, rather than on paper or smartphone, it might be a different story, but, it really goes against my 'travel light' mantra for these events.

Good point.