re:Invent Guide: For Introverts


Community Hero

re:Invent is the most wonderful time of the AWS year. Each year there are more services, more attendees, and even more topics to explore. It can be completely overwhelming and exhausting if you’re an introvert like me.

Introverts are not necessarily shy and antisocial. In ‘Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking’, author Susan Cain writes that “introversion is really about having a preference for lower stimulation environments. So it’s just a preference for quiet, for less noise, for less action. Whereas extroverts really crave more stimulation in order to feel at their best.”

Fear not! This introvert has been to re:Invent and survived. My advice is to concentrate on topics you care about and to find enclaves of focus. Harness both the breadth and depth of re:Invent session topics. Allow time to recharge and learn, but save time to share and socialize. Connect to the thousands of fellow AWS enthusiasts without getting burned out.

1. Harness both the breadth and depth of topics.

Search re:Invent sessions by AWS service, level, industry, and venue. Sessions are ideal for new services and intermediate topics. If you’re curious about Amazon Redshift, dive into the deep end with ANT413 - How to tame unpredictable analytics workloads with Amazon Redshift ›, a one-hour builders session. I recommend workshops and builders sessions that offer hands-on learning, like WIN306 - Migrate Microsoft workloads to AWS ›, ARC309 - Hands-on: Building a multi-region active-active solution ›, or GPSTEC407 Migration GameDay ›.

Look for sessions that will impact your next project. Chances are, you already know the AWS services for your current projects. You can quietly guide teams in future projects with help from your re:Invent investigations. For example, if your team is setting up AWS accounts for teams, you may benefit from SEC331 - Using AWS Service Catalog to govern multi-region environments ›.

Be your team’s optimization hero. AWS is for builders, but I suspect introverts tend to manage the service footprint. The best way to optimize is to start with a solid plan by attending ENT209 - Creating an effective roadmap for your cloud journey ›. Optimization can save your team headaches and money, so check out ARC204 - Cost optimizing a workload › and STG320 - Amazon S3 performance and cost optimization for existing projects ›. Optimization and performance will be important for any service your team uses.

2. Manage your schedule to allow for recharging and learning as well as sharing and socializing.

Go to the expo with a mission. The expo is a prime place for an introvert to get overwhelmed quickly. Each vendor-booth team will hope you stop and chat with them or sign up to get some swag. Gather questions from your team beforehand and go directly to the relevant booths to discuss.

Take time to hear from the community. The expo can be draining, so stop by and see a familiar face at the Dev Lounge. Look for talks with the “DVC” in the session ID to hear from AWS community members like my fellow AWS Heroes Aileen Gemma Smith and Thorsten Hoeger. Similarly, check out talks from open-source community members ›. Talks from community members and open-source contributors will be authentic, such as OPN219 - It’s always day zero: Working on open source and security ›.

For keynotes and Monday Night Live ›, I recommend that introverts watch from the quieter overflow rooms or lounges, or watch the live stream from your room. I like to follow along with a live tweet stream to get that community feel of other people commenting on announcements without the crush of people getting in and out. Plus, you can get to that next session a bit faster.

3. Find ways to connect to the thousands of fellow AWS enthusiasts without getting overwhelmed.

Do go to the free lunch and do sit with strangers. First, the hotels’ lunch operations are very impressive to witness. In the massive lunch lines everyone has the same what-table-do-I-choose dilemma. I find that most everyone is just taking a break, even sponsors and vendors. Lunch is a great time to ask other re:Invent attendees for their thoughts and tips.

Poll the audience. Rather than ask “So, what do you do?” come prepared with a list of questions to engage strangers:

  • • What interesting talks have you been to?
  • • Is this your first re:Invent? If not, how is it different? If so, is it what you expected?
  • • What was your biggest takeaway from today’s keynote/announcement/new service/etc.?
  • • What are you hoping to take away from re:Invent?
At re:Invent you are surrounded by fellow AWS users—take advantage of it! Plus, this will help you fill out your post-conference report to the bosses.

Also take time to connect with your local AWS user group ›. The expo can be draining, so stop by and see a familiar face at the AWS user-group booth by the Dev Lounge. If you’re not already involved in your local AWS user group, this is your chance to meet someone from your area. AWS user groups let you sustain those re:Invent feelings of excitement and curiosity long after you get the glitter off your clothes.

I enjoyed re:Invent as an introvert once I figured out how best to dive deep, find friends in the crowd, and connect with fellow AWS users. re:Invent has gone from feeling like an overwhelming slog to more of an AWS summer-camp reunion. With all the sessions available online, the real value of attending re:Invent is connecting to fellow AWS users and experts. Use these tips to navigate the conference in a way that works for you. Enjoy re:Invent and come away feeling energized and engaged.

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