I’ve spent the last 20 years in IT and some of the fondest memories are when I had the privilege of being a Tech Field Day Delegate. Sure, I had a full-time job as a Senior Cisco Instructor at a learning partner but by night I was blogging and tweeting, studying for the CCIE Security, and writing a few books for Cisco Press. I can honestly say that being a Tech Field Day delegate wasn’t what made my career in networking, but it definitely took it to new heights. In fact, I wouldn’t have the job I have today if it weren’t for being a Tech Field Day delegate. I’m no longer a delegate because the folks at Tech Field Day work hard to avoid any conflict of interest, but I still interact with them on a fairly regular basis since my company has been and continues to sponsor the Tech Field Day events.
So, what does it mean to be a delegate? And why is Tech Field Day a good opportunity for companies? Here’s my take.
Being A Delegate
My areas of expertise included Cisco Routing and Switching as well as Network Security. The first time I was invited to be a delegate it was for Networking Field Day 1. This was a new experience for me, but I had been heavily involved in blogging independently and was also very active on twitter. People were starting to notice what I was writing about. It was at this event that I realized that networking vendors actually cared about what people in the industry, the practitioners, actually had to say. That event had Arista, Juniper, Cradlepoint and a few others present. Notably Force10 presented and was soon acquired by Dell thereafter.
But there was another side effect to becoming a delegate. I now had 11 peers that I could really talk to about technology, business, blogging, tweeting, and so on. It wasn’t that it was an exclusive collection of people, but rather that there was this group of like-minded individuals, and they were spread all across the globe.
After that I went on to be invited to Tech Field Day 4, and then Networking Field Day 2, and sixteen other events. I’ve heard from over sixty different sponsoring vendors, and met ninety-eight individuals just like myself, serving as Field Day Delegates. I still keep in constant contact with many of those delegates, in fact there are twenty of us who are part of an iMessage chat that we’ve used to communicate with on a daily basis for several years now. When I was independent and working at home, alone, I wasn’t. When I had a question, I had my pool of trusted networking advisors to turn to. I guess you could say that becoming a Field Day Delegate was more like being brought into a big geeky family.
In terms of my career I’ve had the privilege of speaking at several conference venues, influenced products that I personally used, influenced the direction of startups and made many friends at different networking vendors. Since each of the vendor sessions produce several video recordings that are published on Youtube and Vimeo they have served to be proof of my technical skillset validated by potential employers. My writing on my personal blog and other online publications such as Tech Republic, and Tech Target have reached more people than I count.
I have no doubt that being a Tech Field Day Delegate has been an integral part of my successful career in data networking.
Being A Sponsor
In February of 2018 I took a position with one of the vendors that presented to me as a delegate. This disqualified me from participating as a delegate, however I personally believe that it’s in my new company’s best interest to sponsor these events when they are relevant to our business. I know that the delegates selected by the Tech Field Day organizers are technically competent and that their voices in the industry are trusted. They can provide us with valuable feedback on our direction and we are happy to share with them advancements in our products and technology.
If you have an opportunity to be a Tech Field Day delegate; Do it! You won’t regret it. Your travel and meals are taken care of. All you need to do is show up, participate, learn about new products, vendors, and technologies, and share what interests you. Becoming a Tech Field Day delegate is an honor and an opportunity you don’t want to pass up.