Sometimes, when I am a few weeks away from speaking at a conference, a friend in the town where I'm going may write to me to say: What times are you speaking? Maybe we can meet up right after your session. I have to let my friend down gently and tell them: Sorry, I'm not just there to speak, but to learn as well.
There is no better place to put this into action than at the Best Practices Conference coming up this August 24-27 in Washington D.C. The number and quality of speakers is truly amazing. I always advise my clients to attend this conference. I tell them they will be surprised at how rapidly they can advance their knowledge about what is possible with SharePoint and how much they will learn from others about how to do it right. I even tell them that, if they possibly can, they should send two people as there are so many sessions that they are sure to be sorry about missing one or two in each time slot.
Now some of you may tend to knock the term "best practice"; we all know that every situation is different and that a best practice in one scenario can be a worst practice in another. So, don't take the title to mean: Everything we say is the one-and-only best practice FOR YOU. Rather, listen for speakers to talk about their experiences and their emerging best practices based on that (often painful) experience. Then, correlate their environment and experiences with your own, and choose and adapt what you have learned so that you can apply it sensibly in your own environment. By the way, most speakers are savvy to this issue and will often fill-in the blanks for you, stating the circumstances when something they recommend is not a good idea.
There is another great thing happening at this conference: The incredible growth in the number of speakers who are women. I have seen presentations by most of the women speaking at this year's conference, but I've never seen so many of them presenting at one conference. (Check out http://womeninsharepoint.org/ for more info if you are a woman looking to grow your career in the world of SharePoint.)
One last thing: SharePoint conferences are a lot of fun. Make sure you come out for "SharePint" in the evening. You'll be able to chat informally with your fellow attendees as well as the speakers. These are people you'll be able to e-mail with your toughest questions in the future.
I really hope I see you there: You will learn WAY more than you expect, you will meet a lot of great people and you'll have a lot of fun as well.