With WordCamp Boulder coming up at the end of the week (still some tickets available), I thought it might be a good time to publish the observations and tips I’ve gleaned as a WordCamp attendee, speaker, sponsor and organizer.
If I could only share one tip, it would be this: Take responsibility for your WordCamp experience.
Everything else I’m listing below can be summed up in that one piece of advice (and is true for just about any conference or meetup). It manifests itself in a variety of ways.
- If you aren’t enjoying/learning where you are, move. We try to cater to all attendees throughout the day, but not all sessions will interest everyone. There are normally multiple sessions going on at once, people hanging out in the halls, people at the Genius Bar or developer garages – if the session you’re in isn’t to your liking, take action and see what else is going on.
- Ask questions in sessions. Speakers love the opportunity to share things they know will be of value to their audience. They know they are doing this when they are addressing questions.
- Don’t be shy about approaching and talking to speakers. Most speakers I know really enjoy feedback, related discussions, etc. Plus, it gives them a nice ego boost.
- Aggressively seek out people you want to connect with. At a conference I often get more out of conversations at random times and places than I do out of the structured sessions. If there is someone you want to talk to, go find them – don’t regret not doing so afterward. The corollary to this is to be respectful if they are busy or for some reason aren’t interested in conversing with you.
- Find your own time for networking. Don’t rely on structured time to connect with people. Join a conversation between sessions, talk with people next to you. Chat up someone that asked a good question in a session.
- Lastly, Remember that this is a community event organized by community volunteers with the help of local sponsors. We try hard to get input from the attendees and structure the event accordingly. I can’t speak for other WordCamps, but I know that last year’s WordCamp Denver and this year’s WordCamp Boulder are just about break-even propositions for us. Please temper your praise and constructive feedback accordingly.
It’s been great to see how WordCamps have grown over the years and I’m very pleased to be able to help organize the Denver/Boulder editions. Keep up the community spirit and have a great time.