Four tips for surviving SAS Global Forum


Each time I attend the SAS Global Forum, I learn some tricks and this year was no different.  Here're 4 tips that you might find useful for the conference next year and please leave yours in the Comments Section.

Tip #1: Arrive early

Usually I arrive the night before and sometimes even miss Opening Session - I arrived early this year.  This was definitely a good idea, I meet some awesome folks at the Tweet-up and even won a keychain with an LED.  The next day I was able to catch up with some old friends, meet some new ones, and the Opening Session was great.  I'm a sucker for fancy multi-media presentations and SAS never fails to deliver. They had hologram images this year, which was cool.  I had never seen such large and realistic looking ones.

Tip #2: You don't get to see all papers you plan

 I did a better job creating my schedule this year: however, there were still papers that I missed. Steve Overton pointed me to this paper, Beyond Star Schema: Exploring the Next Query Generation with the SAS Enterprise BI Server that had some great information about the new intelligence query generator. I was able to attend Top Ten SAS Performance Tuning Techniques when some free time opened up.  I always enjoy hearing some tips from Kirk Paul Lafler, and he labeled me as SAS Nerd this year, which I wear with honor. (Gordon Cox had this picture in his post.)

I say this every year, "Next year I will read all the papers before the conference."  I guess I can add that to my list of New Year's Resolutions.

Tip #3: Find a way to organize business cards

You will meet a lot of people. Make sure you have your business cards handy and a way to store the business cards given to you.  Here is a list of the strategies I have tried that worked for me.

  • Bring a plastic baggie to store the cards until you get home.
  • Between sessions or while waiting, use your smart phone to send an email to the person.
  • Use LinkedIn to find and connect with the person.
  • Take a picture of the business card and place in EverNote. 

Everyone is really friendly, so do not be afraid to say Hello or ask others how they use SAS.  

Tip #4: Make sure you have your survival kit

It is a hectic conference - there is a lot to do and see. One day I did not get lunch, so next year I need to make sure I have some snacks in my Survival Kit.  Other things I will include in the kit are aspirin, water and caffeine pills. Of course you never get enough sleep - so rest up prior to the conference. I doubt if I got to bed before 1 a.m. any night.

I was standing a lot this conference chatting with others, watching demos and sometimes just waiting for an event to start.  Quickly I determined I was wearing the wrong shoes.  Besides finding cute and comfy shoes this year, I think I'll carry some flip-flops next year so I can change out. 

Did You Learn Any Tips?

Next year the conference is in San Francisco, so a short trip to Napa Valley afterwards might be in order! However that is another series of tips!  Share your tips in the Comments Section.

Please share your tips in the Comments section.


About Author

Tricia Aanderud

Principle, And Data Inc.

Tricia Aanderud is SAS BI evangelist, who is often found pursuing design tips, programming tricks & other experiences to share on her Business Intelligence Notes for SAS Users blog. She has co-authored two books with Angela Hall about the SAS BI toolset (Building Business Intelligence with SAS and The 50 Keys to Learning SAS Stored Processes). Her company, And Data, Inc, is headquartered in Raleigh, NC, where she lives with her husband and two bratty cats. She invites you to share your opinions about this topic.


  1. Pingback: User conferences = Busy summer - SAS Users Groups

  2. Chris Battiston on

    This being my first SGF (and second major conference), I find the biggest benefit is from the simplest thing - talking to people. I am an introvert, but the reason I am at the conference is to network and communicate with others. Everyone at the conference is so passionate about SAS, sitting down at a table and (politely) introducing yourself will, in my experience, get a conversation going that will inevitably result in at least a friendly face at the conference, at most a new friend. I have met some of the biggest names in the SAS Community simply by walking up to them and saying "Hi".

    The second recommendation I have for anyone new to the conference circuit is to submit a poster. Although you have to write a paper, and have to stand with your poster for an hour and a half, it is not nearly so as intimidating as doing an actual presentation. It gets you exposure, it gets you experience, and allows you to dig into an aspect of SAS that many people may not know about (I talked about 50 people about my poster over the course of the conference, only 4 of whom heard about Graph'n'Go - SGF paper 217-2012). I had a great time, met people from all over the world, and was able to have people using SAS for 20+ years going "Hunh, I'm going to have to try that!".

    Well enough rambling from me - have a good night!

  3. Kerri Rivers on

    Great tips, Tricia! Developing a system for business cards is definitely key. I do the same thing as @AndreaZimmerman - keeping my business cards in my badge holder. I keep the cards I receive from others in a pocket - separate from my own business cards. I also tend to write on the back a note about the person so I have something to jog my memory later.

    Another tip - make sure you go to at least one of the social events. They're a great way to network - everyone there has something automatically in common! If you're extremely introverted and would feel outside your comfort zone, think up a few introductory questions prior to going. Simply asking someone how they're using SAS can lead to a very informative discussion. You never know who you might meet. The people you meet could transform the path of your career, so make the most of the opportunity.

  4. Andrea Zimmerman on

    For business cards I tuck some in the extra pockets of the badge pouch then restock each night in my room. They are great to give to people and for entering drawings. I store the ones I get in the same pouch, but key is to write on them the significance. Are they an expert at a topic you need to know more about or did they author a paper you expect to have questions on?

    Don't try to do it all, you will make yourself sick and miss more papers than if you leave the parties a little early and don't kill yourself trying to get to 8am talks every day.

    • Waynette Tubbs
      Waynette Tubbs on

      That's where I keep my business cards!! In fact, I keep hanging onto my 2009 SAS Global Forum badge holder because it is so much roomier than the ones in years since.

      I also carry my room key there.

      • I have my business card in my pockets, in my badge holder, and I carry a few taped to my ankle. You know - in case your badge holder is stolen and you have to attend a networking event. 😉

  5. Awesome post Tricia, as always!
    My tips include:
    1. Bloggers - pre-write some of the content before attending the presentation, that way adding a couple of presentation specific sentences is all that is needed to push out a 'check out this paper' post.
    2. Demo Hall - map out what areas of the demo hall are 'must dos', whether for that cute koala or to see new SAS features/products, such as SAS Visual Analytics.
    3. Free SAS Training Sessions - get there at least 30 min early & stand in line. These are very very popular & I heard that they turned away over 75 people for the SAS Stored Process training.
    4. Write up a Trip Report! This is probably the most valuable thing anyone can do. After everything is done take some time to write up a report containing things like the people you met, items learned, ideas created, money saved from attending the conference rather than 5 classes, etc. Anything that would be important for your boss to know & email them. This helps seal the deal for a return visit next year!

    • Kerri Rivers on

      I concur completely with your tips. When it comes to the free training and hands-on workshops, they can be invaluable! Definitely show up at least 30 minutes early to get in line. Angela's not kidding about that.

      And writing up a trip report is a great suggestion. Find some way that works for you and your coworkers to communicate and transfer the knowledge you gained while at the conference to your colleagues who didn't go. You'll pick up tips and tricks throughout the conference that may transform the way you use SAS - spread that around.

  6. Waynette Tubbs
    Waynette Tubbs on

    These are great tips, Tricia. Here's another quick way to organize those business cards (super fast and on-the-go!): Download the Card Munch app from the app store. It syncs with LinkedIn. You just take a picture of the business card and it downloads the information right to your smartphone. Within seconds, you can connect with that person on LinkedIn and take notes about whatever you talked about or need to do when you connect again.

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