The following post is contributed by Chris Rhodes; MCT, MVP in Windows Expert - IT Pro and co-founder of the Windows User Group.

TechEd. That one word always summons up great feelings in my mind. The minute it’s announced, the countdown begins! It’s *the* event for IT Pros and developers in the calendar - it’s one not to miss.

My name is Chris Rhodes and I’m an MVP in Windows Expert – IT Pro. I’ve been attending TechEd events now since 2009. I never really got it until I went to my first one, now I absolutely wouldn’t miss it. Every year I’ve attended it’s always blown me away.

So what is it and why go? TechEd itself is a week of technical sessions that delve deep into current and new technologies that really give you an insight into some of the inner workings that you would never normally get to hear about. And the best part is being able to ask questions and meet the speakers afterwards.

For me, the content is the main reason people go. That in itself is enough! This year in Houston, there are 675 sessions! A close second to that is the community and networking that goes on at TechEd. Whether you are meeting vendors at the TechExpo – many deals are done here – or your peers in sessions or at social events, this is really crucial for finding new opportunities and putting faces to names. There really is no other event quite like it for me.

I will be there this year for the 5th year as a MCT (Microsoft Certified Trainer) Ambassador. Training is my day job, and you would be amazed at how many people want learn and get certified in the technologies talked about at TechEd. I will be there to support Microsoft Learning on the show floor, at the certification desk, and in the study hall helping people to reach their potential in getting certified. Exams are discounted for attendees with 50% off, so it’s another compelling reason to go along and make the most of the week.

Not everyone can attend TechEd, and I know many IT teams take turns at sending people each year. This year you can attend virtually by registering to view the live stream. It’s not quite the same as being there, but you should definitely check out the keynote which is well attended, and then pick from some of the other tracks through the week.

I’ll be tweeting throughout the event, so look out for me at Twitter.com/ChrisReboot  and also watch for the hashtag #MSTechEd.  There’ll be plenty of chatter and announcements. Right, where’s my suitcase?

If you’re going, pop along to the Microsoft Learning areas and say howdy!

Are you en route or ready and waiting for TechEd North America? Are you busy planning your trip to Barcelona for the European leg in October? Tweet us @TechNetUK and let us know what you're most looking forward to. If you haven't been able to get out to the events this year, never fear. Be sure to keep an eye on Chris's Twitter feed, the TechNetUK Twitter feed and the TechNet UK blog as we bring you live reports and summarise the big announcements from the week.

Don't forget, you have until the 7th July to register for TechEd Europe Early Bird tickets, saving €300! So if you can't make it to Houston but still want to benefit from all the training and networking opportunities that Chris mentions, be sure to grab them while you can.