We're coming up on the annual HDI event, scheduled for April 9-13 at the MGM Grand resort in Las Vegas!

The HDI event is one of the major IT and help desk shows of the year. As with any industry event, you can make the week more productive by taking a few minutes to get organized. You should arrive in Las Vegas with a plan in hand, knowing where to go and when to show up.

Here are a few suggestions on how you can create your conference plan and leave Las Vegas with a fun and productive experience behind you. (And sorry, no gaming advice is included here!)

Making a Plan for the HDI Event

As IT professionals, we normally have one set of projects and initiatives currently underway, and another set of projects and initiatives planned for the next 12-24 months.

These projects can include Automation, new ITIL Processes, leveraging AI, the role of DevOps in IT, compliance challenges, possible updates to core ITSM processes including Incident Management or Problem Management and much, much more.

Take a few minutes to prioritize these initiatives and identify what is most strategic to the success of your IT organization in 2018 and beyond. Make a short list of target topics. These could be anything, because every organization is different, but the key is understanding what are the most important to you and your team.

Then take this short list and look for intersections on the HDI event agenda. The program is very easy to browse and it won’t take much time to find sessions of interest. It is very likely you can find another organization, a lot like yours, or an industry expert who will be delivering a session that speaks to the journey you are currently on. Circle those sessions on your program and make sure you attend.

Seek out Industry Experts

The HDI conference will bring together many of the leading IT and ITSM experts from around the world. Take advantage of this opportunity and either attend a session with these experts or—just as good—introduce yourself to an expert during one of the social events, at a lunch break, a book signing, or after one of the sessions. These people are great contacts to have and invariably you will be amazed at how nice and how approachable they are. They love to meet new people and will most likely enjoy meeting you. These are contacts you can come back to time and time again for years.

A few sessions I can recommend:

  • Rise of the Machines (session 208) with @IanAitchison on Wednesday, April 11, at 11:30 a.m.
    • This session will take a look at the rapidly evolving role of AI, bots, and more in the world of ITSM. As one of the great thinkers in ITSM, Ian is passionate about this topic. He always puts on a great seminar.
  • The Generation Gap of Business Expectations for IT (session 808) with @VigilantGuy on Friday, April 1, at 10:15 a.m. 
    • This session will take a look at a topic that is very much on the mind of IT today. Matt is very entertaining and knowledgeable, and I always learn something in his sessions.
  • Leadership’s 9 Guiding Principles: Modeling Success (session 107) with @StuartRance on Wednesday, April 11, at 10:15 a.m.
    • Stuart is a one-of-a-kind icon in the global ITSM market. You will never regret taking a seat in one of Stuart’s presentations and his uniquely colorful style.

Finally, check out my session:

  • Solutions Spotlight on Wednesday, April 11, at 1:00 p.m. at the Expo Floor Theatre. 
    • I’ll be talking about common mistakes to avoid with ITIL and how to leverage the best practices of successful organizations. In an effort to keep things moving, my session will run a snappy 20 minutes. I’ll also be giving away two copies of my ITSM book at the end of the session.

Of course, there are many other great sessions, so enjoy looking through the conference agenda and building your own "must see" list!

Make It Personal

The event will include a number of scheduled social slots, networking sessions, breaks, meals, conference receptions, and a conference party. Each of these activities will provide great opportunities to meet new people.

Networking is an important part of the event. Make a goal to meet as many people as possible. Remember that the people in attendance are just like you in that they enjoy hearing about what other organizations are working on and value making new contacts. Sometimes the most valuable information you can leave a conference with will have come from a casual chat over dinner or at a reception.

Catch a Couple of Keynotes

The keynotes at HDI are typically outstanding. They address people, as well as organizational, motivational, and other non-technical topics that can be useful in both our jobs and our lives. It’s a great opportunity to take a step back from the normal, more technical content of the main tracks.

Take the time to catch one or two of these and you will be glad you did. We hope to see you there!

Click here to register.

Be sure to check out Kevin’s book, The Practical Guide To World-Class IT Service Management, on Amazon, and follow him on Twitter @kevinjsmith4IT.