Community Summit 2023 is rapidly approaching! This year, Community Summit is taking place in Charlotte, North Carolina from Oct. 15-20.
In order to get the most out of your experience, it is time to start planning your schedule. In all honestly, you won’t have time to plan out a schedule once you get there.
While you are chatting amongst your Dynamics Communities and Community Summit peers, you will surely be arranging time with friends and colleagues to have those deep-dive conversations relating to business while enjoying light refreshments.
Or you may be planning where to meet up for a wonderful dinner before heading to the always FANTASTIC PowerGP Online party on Thursday night at the Filmore – generously hosted by Chris Dobkins and his team from Njevity. There will be many other exciting evening celebrations to take advantage of, graciously hosted by different Sponsors, Partners, and Vendors.
With that being said, why are we really going to Charlotte this year? To Meet, Connect, and Learn (MCL). A few days ago, I asked this question on the Dynamic Communities GP Discussion Forum. I would really like to hear your thoughts about why you plan to attend Community Summit 2023, and what you hope to get out of the conference.
My Top 3 Reasons to Attend Summit
1. Education: Not only do I love to share what I have learned about Dynamics GP and SQL over the years, but I find myself learning new and interesting things from people I meet there. I have had the unique opportunity to be an attendee and/or presenter at every Community Summit (formerly Convergence) since 1997, when it began with just 167 of us.
2. Relationships: Over the years I have met many wonderful colleagues, many of whom have become cherished long-standing friendships. At every conference, I gain exposure to other peoples’ unique business processes which helps me grow and expand my awareness of how products are being utilized. It is amazing what innovative solutions people create! Networking and building these connections are an invaluable part of your job!
3. Fun: Let’s not forget to have some fun. Although the main goal is to cultivate business knowledge and relationships, if we fail to have fun, we cannot fully enjoy the total Community Summit experience!
One of my favorite quotes is:
“As long as you’re green, you’re growing. As soon as you’re ripe, you start to rot” – Ray Kroc
I learned this quote while attending Manager Training at Hamburger University for McDonald’s, during my first work experience. Since then, these words have stuck with me, and I believe them to be true. It is essential to continue to learn and discover new things throughout your entire life, not only in business but in your personal life as well, to keep from stagnating.
First Time Attendees
Welcome to the Show!
First off, welcome to Community Summit! Secondly, you will be overwhelmed… let’s just get that out of the way first.
So, how do you best take advantage of the largest Dynamics User Community Event, with its:
- 4,000+ attendees
- 500+ Expert-led Educational Sessions
- 200+ ISVs on the Expo Floor
- General Sessions
- Educational Session
- Academy Classes
- Tech-Med Help Desks
- Special Events
- And so much more
For first-timers or those who need a refresher, you should consider attending one of the New to Summit sessions within your respective User Group area that take place from 5-6 PM on Monday, Oct. 16.
1. Summit Planning Rules
These are the five planning rules that I use to achieve success while attending conventions.
Before you start your adventure to Charlotte for Community Summit 2023, be sure to develop a set of goals for your trip.
These goals, need to be discussed with and have input from your manager, peers, and end-user sof the product(s) featured at Community Summit 2023. These goals can be categorized into the following:
- How Do I…
- A list of things we just don’t know how to do at the company. This can be things like:
- Where do I find help?
- Can the program do that?
- I want to do this, but HOW?
- A list of things we just don’t know how to do at the company. This can be things like:
- A list of system issues or problems. Collect all the information from the users, so you can find the right resources
- Investigation of Third-Party Products
- If you are looking for other solutions or better ones, define the category as well as the problem you want to solve
- You are not going to be able to solve everything while attending Community Summit. You need to prioritize your goals to the time and events you have access to
- Work Obligations
- Unfortunately, not all of us can just shut off the office while we are attending conferences. Consider scheduling specific check-in times with your company to keep the emergency interruptions to a minimum. Try to organize this with your manager/team before you head out to the conference.
Your company is spending a large amount of money to send you to Community Summit 2023 and you should try and maximize your MCL activities so you and your business get the biggest bang for your buck.
2. What to Bring
Besides the usual travel items, keep in mind that you will be doing a lot of walking, meeting people, and learning.
It is vital to bring an open and spongelike mind to Community Summit 2023. You will be presented with a tremendous amount of information to absorb. Again, try and clear as much work responsibility off your plate as you can for the week.
Additionally, I highly encourage you to bring business cards. This should be a top priority and something you hand out very generously! Why?
- Customers: You will want to connect with everyone during the event! Some may be other customers who share the same business activity, issues, or concerns. Some may be Vendors who could offer potential solutions to you or your company, now or in the future. Other new personal connections that you create, may become lifelong friends or future resources.
- Partners: Well this is just too simple to even state why, unless you are reading this after a few refreshments.
If you don’t have business cards, ask your manager to see if you can get some made. Another alternative is to write your contact info on the back of the person you are speaking with’s business card for them. Consider taking a picture of each other’s Community Summit badge, or the actual person, then add a note with name, company, and contact info. Of course, be sure to ask permission.
Additional items I like to bring include:
- Water bottle
- Notepad and pen
- Small knapsack
The dress code for the event is business casual. Remember to wear comfortable shoes and perhaps a few additional layers, as there will be varying temperatures both inside and outside the event center.
3. Understanding Events
Before you “schedule” your time and events, it is helpful to gain a meaningful understanding of the many exciting types of activities and sessions offered at Community Summit 2023. Here is a beginners guide for your reference.
The Academy sessions are being offered the Sunday, Oct. 15, and Monday, Oct. 16, just before Community Summit 2023 begins, and are taught by subject matter experts within the community. There is a separate fee for these classes, and they are not included with your general Community Summit registration. CPE credits are offered for participation. Academy sessions have been very well attended for many years. So, if you have an interest in a class, it is recommended you sign up ahead of time to ensure you can participate.
The Expo Hall is the meeting place of Sponsors, Vendors, and Attendees. This is the happening place, where commerce, ideas, and knowledge flow like the rushing waters of Niagara Falls! If that is not enough to pique your interest, many Vendors offer generous and unique giveaways. The Expo Hall contains over 200+ Vendor booths, as well as the Legends Stage where you can catch special presentations, and a Lounge area where you can relax. The Expo is open:
- Tuesday, Oct. 17 from 5:30 PM–8:30 PM
- Wednesday, Oct. 18 from 12:00 PM–6:00 PM
- Thursday, Oct. 19 from 12:00 PM-6:00 PM
This opening Opening Keynote is for all User Groups and all attendees, no matter which product line you use. It starts with a general Welcome to Community Summit 2023, message and also provides important updated community-wide information. This year, topics include Women in Tech, Innovations, the Scholarship Program, and a Fireside Chat with Bob Evans of Cloud Wars. This session is always exciting and very informative for everyone. So, get there early to get a front-row seat!
Sessions – New to Summit
These User Group (UG) specific sessions are all held at the same time (but in different locations) on Monday from 5:00 PM-6:00 PM. They are designed to help you to get the most out of your Community Summit 2023 experience. Hear from your own User Group experts on how to manage your next four days at Community Summit 2023.
Sessions – General UG
These User Group (UG) specific sessions are held at different times in the schedule. They contain information about the current and future state of the product line being covered. The speakers will explore new features, demonstrate unique cases, and highlight effective uses from companies and people who are currently using the UG product. They usually also touch on information about which educational sessions are most illuminating for their UG while at Community Summit 2023.
Sessions – Educational
This is why you attend SUMMIT 2023. These sessions are developed and presented by Customers like you as well as by Partners. They are developed to teach you a specific element or concept within that UG product. The sessions are categorized by ‘Product’, ‘Track’ and ‘Ability Level’ to facilitate your search. You will need to spend time reviewing and selecting all the sessions you want to attend BEFORE SUMMIT 2023… SURPRISE – You will not be able to attend them all, since some sessions you may want to attend may be presented at the same time. Reference back to your Goals to help you prioritize which ones best meet your needs.
Sessions – Partner Solution Showcases
These sessions are presentations by Sponsors for their specific products and offerings. They are well-attended, and you get a deeper dive into what the vendor has to offer. Plan to attend some, even if you do not need the product or service currently, as it gives you insight into what is available and possible.
Session – Women in Tech
One of the most well-attended sessions at Community Summit is Women in Tech. This session is about inspiring working women to successfully “fail forward” while navigating the landscape of gender equality within business and technology. It will include real-world, practical, and inspiring discussions led by Dynamic Communities’ Sara Cordova and joined by Ann D’Emilio of Vertex, Jennifer Harris of TMC, and Aleksandra Kulu of Mazars. This session is held ONLY on Wednesday from 4:30 PM–6:00 PM.
These planned social events are designed not only to let you relax after your very long day of learning, but to provide more time to meet, connect, and learn (MCL), better known as networking. Three of the main planned events are:
- UG Welcome Reception on Tuesday, Oct. 17 from 5:30 PM–8:30 PM
- NASCAR Hall of Fame Reception on Wednesday, Oct. 18 from 6:00 PM–9:00 PM
- PowerGP Online Party on Thursday, Oct. 19 from 9:00 PM–2:00 AM
Along the corridors of the Conference Hall where the Educational and General Sessions take place, Breakfast, Lunch, coffee and snacks are provided during the event.
- Tuesday, Oct. 18 from 7:00 AM–8:00 AM
- Wednesday, Oct. 18 from 7:30 AM–8:30 AM
- Thursday, Oct. 19 from 7:30 AM–8:30 AM
- Friday, Oct. 19 from 7:30 AM–8:30 AM
- Tuesday, Oct. 17 from 12:15 PM–1:30 PM
- Wednesday, Oct. 18 from 12:30 PM–1:30 PM
- Thursday, Oct. 19 from 12:30 PM–1:30 PM
Each User Group (UG) has a booth set-up around the conference floor, open at scheduled times, which has both an Application and Technical Expert available to help you. This resource is known as the Medic Desk. These Experts are available to try to help you with your UG product issues.
If you plan to utilize the Medic Desk, please remember to come prepared with as much information about your problem or question as you can. The more information you bring, the better the chance a solution will be found. Also, these Experts are volunteering their time and are not getting paid, so please be courteous.
If you are waiting and the booth is busy, please do not interrupt. Just hang out for a while. We try to accommodate everyone, and most Medic Desk helpers will get your name and arrange to contact you at a different time if needed.
If you do not have a plan prior to arrival, you will be a deer in the headlights. Understanding where you want to be, when you need to be there, and how to get where you need to be, all takes planning. Having a starting schedule of events you want to attend, that is prioritized by your defined goals is critical. Otherwise you may end up missing a session you hoped to attend.
It all starts with the Community Summit 2023 website. From the website, you can use the provided Planner feature to plan your events from the agenda. Check out the session planner here.
Then, using the drop-down menus select Agenda>Full Training Agenda.
While you are browsing the sessions, when you see a session that you are interested in, select the ‘+’ icon in the column to the right of the session, and it will turn into a checkmark icon. The session is now added to your planner.
If you are not logged in, you will need to log in first to save.
Once you have selected your session, you can review them by going to the drop-down at your Login in the top right corner and selecting My Planner. Your planner will then be displayed.
A great feature of the Session Planner is that you can add your own Personal Events to your planner. Just select the ‘Add an Event’ button fill in the details and select Submit.
You will want to get the new and much improved mobile app loaded on your device. To download the app, search “Community Summit NA” in your respective App Store. It will not only give you access to your Planner and Events, but it will keep you current with changes, such as room and time changes, which can occur during Community Summit 2023.
But as a backup, I also keep a copy on my calendar and a printed copy. You all know how our electronic devices can sometimes have a mind of their own.
5. Adapt to Changes
You have completed all your planning and, strategizing, and now have that perfect balance of MCL with your timing down to the minute. Oops! About 5 minutes into Community Summit 2023, it’s all gone to heck in a handbasket. Be prepared; life, people, and places are fluid. Change will happen.
Remember you also might find that the session you are attending, is not what you thought it was, so because you planned ahead, you have a backup session already selected that you can go to. Just because you have it in your planner does not mean you need to stay. You are at Community Summit 2023 to learn. If the session you are attending is not for you, then quietly and with minimal disruption, leave the session and go to the next one on your list.
You can attend any session at Community Summit 2023. It does not need to be in your UG or in your planner.
You might also find that a session has been canceled for various reasons, (personal emergencies arise in all our lives), so again, turn to your backup. The mobile app will keep you up to date on session changes or cancellations.
One of my favorite fallbacks is the Expo Floor. If you have a session planned which is then canceled or not what you had hoped for, and the Expo Floor is open, go there and learn. The opportunities are endless.
I cannot stress enough, how important it is that you have goals and a game plan… which often include backup plans. Wear your most comfortable shoes, don’t forget that jacket or sweater in case the room is cold, and drink lots of water during the event.
But the biggest thing to remember is to HAVE FUN!
If you are lucky, you will likely only remember about 20% of everything you hear and learn. The first time I ever attended Community Summit, I found that by the day I returned to the office I was lucky to remember only a few things from the dozens that I thought I would. Keeping daily notes and notes on the back of business cards helped me tremendously.
Looking forward to seeing you all at SUMMIT 2023!