Top Tips for First Time Gartner Symposium Visitors

By Conrad Mills, Services Line Marketing Manager, Large Enterprise Operations, Xerox Europe

Conrad is a Gartner Symposium veteran and keen amateur triathlete in his spare time, you can follow him on Twitter @conradmills

event attendee tips for Gartner SymposiumWith just under two months to go, IT professionals right across the globe are busy polishing their presentations, massaging their networking muscles and sharpening their selling skills, all for this year’s much anticipated Gartner Symposium taking place 5 – 8 November in Barcelona. Typically attended by over 4,000 people including more than 1,500 CIOs, this is the event to be at on the European Technology circuit. This year’s agenda offers 350 plus analyst sessions, workshops, roundtables and mastermind keynotes across four full days. So to ensure you get the most out of this event, I have compiled ten top tips for first time visitors to help you be prepared:

  1. Book your hotel well in advance. Check out Gartner’s recommended hotels and book now, otherwise you may end up having to stay out of town.
  2. Event objectives. Work out what you want to achieve out of this Symposium. With over 100 show exhibitors and a plethora of sessions, there’s a lot to get round in four days.
  3. Preparation is vital; book your sessions in advance to avoid disappointment.
  4. Remember if you forget anything, there’s a large shopping complex nearby. Visit the Diagonal Mar which is just opposite the Symposium venue Centre Convencions Internacional for all your last minute items. I actually forgot my cuff links last year!
  5. Ensure that you have the right shoes. Ladies take note; so many times I have seen event shoe injuries afflicted by killer heels.
  6. Pace yourself – Don’t drink too much at the various soirees. It’s not Fresher’s Week and we’re not 21 anymore. However do remember beroccas and alka seltzers just in case.
  7. Applications for printing. If you’ve forgotten to print your presentation handouts or meeting documents don’t worry as Xerox will be providing mobile print at the event for all attendees.
  8. Restaurant research. For off-piste evenings, book ahead. Barcelona has some of the best restaurants in Europe, but they do get booked up. This guide gives some good tips. My personal favourite is Passadís del Pep, there’s no menu but they have a great range of fresh seafood dishes.
  9. Elocution lessons. Take a few classes to learn some useful Spanish phrases to help you feel at home in Barcelona. And remember, beer is cerveza in Spanish.
  10. Don’t forget to arm yourself with intelligent and challenging questions when meeting peers and prospects – especially managed print providers. But that’s another blog post so watch this space….

What are your top tips for attending events and trade shows? How do you make the most of them? We’d be more than happy to extend our list. Please share your ideas in our comments section below – we’d love to hear them.

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  1. Kathy Mast October 4, 2012 -

    Take advantage of many different venues at Gartner to connect with others, for example, meals, round tables, and evening events. Go early to attend any sessions Gartner has on tips about the conference. If it is available to you, book one-on-one meetings with the analysts – they are some of the best in the world.

  2. Conrad Mills October 8, 2012 -

    Thanks for the additional suggestions Kathy and I agree that perhaps the key benefit of attending Symposium is the opportunity to network – not just with other attendees but also with Gartner analysts. Spending a little time thinking about the best means of achieving this will almost certainly pay dividends!

  3. joel wecksell October 18, 2012 -

    I was at Gartner for 19+ years – I posted this originally in 2010. The advice is still good, I believe.

    Tips for surviving and indeed, thriving the Gartner Symposium experience

    1. Have a plan: select the sessions you want to attend and the Gartner people you want to meet with. The list of people should go beyond analysts. For example, the Ombudsman is usually in attendance, and although busy, is likely happy to discuss questions about process or issues. However, given that it’s only days away from the event, if you don’t have a plan in place, it’s likely too late; but take a swing at a plan anyway.

    2. Gartner brings about half the number of analysts it used to to Symposium. This makes 1-on-1 time a premium. It also means that in-demand analysts have their calendars booked in advance. If you want to speak with one of the analysts, you need to plan carefully. Here are some good things to know:
    • Analyst keeps time clear immediately after they’ve presented.
    • Look out for your analyst doing the Q&A for another analyst in their area. They too will also have cleared their immediately after their session.
    • Analyst need to eat, and often like to drink. While they may not want to take time during lunch (which is served to analysts near the analyst work rooms), a beer or a glass of wine (at the lobby bar at the Swan, for example) after 6 pm is welcome.

    3. Analysts are people too and Symposium is a great chance to build relationships with them without an agenda (“tell me again why you can’t move my dot to the right and up a bit.” “Are you kidding, we should have been rated much higher than Oracle.”) Favorite analyst hangouts include Kimonos , in the Swan, for sushi and karaoke, and the Lobby Court bar (also in the Swan), Bluezoo bar at the Dolphin and the Dueling Piano bar on the boardwalk.

    4. Symposium is not a good time for an analyst briefing – it never was. And, with in-demand analyst schedules so full, it’s like trying to get pigs to dance. You can’t do it, and you’ll just get them upset.

    5. Don’t assume that only the best analysts are at Symposium. This is “Symposium season;” Gartner runs 6 Symposia and a number of themed events. Many of the best analysts opt for more exotic locations like Cape Town, Sydney or Tokyo. And, many of the best stay on home turf. So, many of the European-based analysts won’t be at US Symposium.

    6. Pace yourself – spend some of the day in the sunshine: filling every minute of your day by may seem like a good idea, but it’s not. It’s draining.

    7. Attend the presentation sessions on topics that adjoin your company’s focus. Things change. The business application your company offers today is the service another company will be offering tomorrow. Stay on top of “near” or related markets.

    8. Magic Quadrant ratings shouldn’t be a surprise. Be aware that the Gartner rule for presenting Magic Quadrants and other rating frameworks is that the rating must have appeared in prior research.

  4. Conrad Mills October 19, 2012 -

    Thanks Joel, I’m already seeing that a number of the analysts and the roundtable sessions they’ll be running in Barcelona are fully booked so some fantastic advice around ‘other ways’ to engage with them, many thanks!.

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