After a long hiatus, the Microsoft Exchange Conference returned about a year and a half ago. Now it seems that Microsoft intends to make MEC (as well and the Lync and SharePoint conferences) a regular thing. I will be heading to Austin TX in a couple of weeks to participate.

There are a number of reasons why I think it’s important to attend conference like this, but for me it is first and foremost about connecting with the community. Not only will a couple of other Exchange engineers that I work with, whom I rarely get to see in person, be in attendance but also many customers, former co-workers, and fellow Exchange Rangers will also be there. As an Exchange consultant, it is important that I know a lot about Exchange however it is impossible for me to know all the answers. When I come across a problem that I don’t immediately know how to solve it is immensely helpful to have friends who I can reach out to for assistance. Taking a little time to build personal relationships with Masters, MVPs, Microsoft employees, partners, and other consultants will pay off later.

Of course the other big reason to attend MEC is the content. There are several different types of session that will be taking place. If you’re registered, you can go to mymec.iammec.com and select the sessions that you want to attend. I’ll be attending some sessions on topics that I am already fairly well versed, some sessions on topics I could use a bit more information on, and a number of interactive “panel discussion” type sessions. Many of the sessions will be recorded and available for attendees after the conference. I understand the plan is to make the recorded sessions available to the general public some weeks after the conference. There are currently some sessions from this year’s Lync conference available on uTube.

The third thing I am looking to get out of MEC is a week in a great city. Austin is really a great place, and there will be tons of fun to be had. I live in Portland, the other American city that proudly proclaims its desire to keep itself weird, but if I were going to relocate Austin would be at the top of my list. BBQ, beer, and hipsters are three of my favorite pass times and there are loads of all 3 in Austin.

I hope to see you there.