Attending the top-shelf tutorials, absorbing the keynotes, or participating in Open Season during the track sessions are all great ways to enjoy CAST, and are highly recommended. That still leaves one of the compelling reasons to travel to CAST to attend in person – the hallway conversation. I’m also talking about the lunch conversation, the dinner conversation, and everywhere else you’ll find yourself near other CAST 2016 attendees before, during, and after CAST.

A session ignites something in you – you want to keep talking about what you’ve heard, there is energy with a couple of other attendees, but the facilitator is shooing you out of the room. What’s next? You go out in the hall and keep talking. The spirit of conferring continues into the hallways of the venue. There are numerous places at CAST 2016 to sit and chat with your new friends.

Maybe you’ll miss some of the next session, or not. There are sizable breaks between sessions for a reason, and if you are learning something – trust your instincts.

Maybe you will meet one of the many lions and lionesses of the Context-Driven Testing community who show up to CAST. You could meet James Bach, Fiona Charles, Michael Bolton, Anne-Marie Charrett, Robert Sabourin, or lots of other people I may be in trouble for not naming. Any of them would be pleased to make your acquaintance, answer your question, or just meet you.

You should feel welcome to participate in the reindeer games. Everyone is invited! Feel free to sidle up to a group to hear what they’re saying – they’ll make room for you in the circle. You don’t have to talk much if you don’t want to, but someone will likely ask your name and if you’ve been to CAST before.

Name badges help break the ice, but people are genuinely interested in meeting you and learning more about you. Give that gift that to them: the awkwardness you banish may be your own. Remember, we all have much more in common due to our profession, and our membership in the CDT Community. We’re a welcoming tribe – and by we, I’m pointing out that it includes you.