WordCamp Sacramento 2015 is happening in only five days!
We, your organizing team, can hardly believe it. We’re proofing the name badges, printing event signage, running last minute errands, and taking care of the final details to ensure the event is a great experience for everyone who attends.
With that said, I’m a HUGE believer that you get what you want to get out of live events. I should know as I attend and/or speak at several live events year, with at least 4-6 of them being WordCamps. Over the years, I’ve noticed that those who come with an open mind, ready to hear fresh perspectives, enjoy the events the most.
That’s why I’ve put together a list of nine tips to help you get the most out of your time at WordCamp Sacramento. But first, I’ve noticed that there are three types of people that attend live events:
The first group of people are at the event, but they aren’t really present.
They are in the audience or the hallways, and instead of listening to the talks, they’re on their phones, on their computers, checking email, browsing Slack, or working. Believe me, it’s hard to really benefit from the wisdom at the event if your mind isn’t really present.
The second group of people are those who “know it already” so they tune out.
I have sat down in plenty of WordCamp sessions on a topic many would consider me an expert in. But I go anyway, with an open, curious mind for three important reasons:
- First, you simply never know where you’re going to learn something new, pick up a quick tip, or see a way to tweak what you’re doing a tiny bit to be more profitable.
- Second, listening to someone else talk about, describe, and teach a topic I am familiar with, helps me get better at talking about, describing, and teaching it too.
- Third, you may already know everything they are saying, but chances are you’re not actually DOING everything, and this may be the kick in the pants you need.
Bottom line, there are hidden gems and gold nuggets in EVERY presentation, you just have to be willing to discover them — instead of tuning it out because you’re already an expert.
The third group of people listen, take notes, and are excited, but they don’t talk to anyone at WordCamp!
The key to having a really great day, and getting the most out of your time at WordCamp is to meet other WordPressers! You just never know where you will meet your next client, partner, subcontractor, referral source, employee, employer, or friend. So stand up, walk around, and introduce yourself to people. Trust me, they’re probably as nervous as you are, and would welcome a hello.
Tips To Have a Great Event
I want to you have the best day possible, so I have put together some tips to help you get the most from your WordCamp experience:
TIP #1: WATCH THOSE BUSINESS CARDS
What’s better than going home with big stack of business cards? A handful of awesome new relationships!
WordCamp isn’t like a traditional networking event, so don’t plan of handing out a hundred business cards. Instead, focus on talking to and meeting new people. Get to know them better, start a new relationship or strengthen an existing one, and connect with them through Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn — which is much better than a business card.
TIP #2: EVERYONE IS NERVOUS
If you’re feeling nervous, uncomfortable, or slightly out of your element, don’t worry about it! Most other people are too. Networking and chatting it up with strangers is right up there on the “hate to do” charts with public speaking.
Don’t be afraid to walk up to someone and say hi, or to walk up to a group of people and introduce yourself. The WordPress community is full of the nicest and most friendly people. They’ll welcome you and probably thank you later!
TIP #3: CHOOSE A SEAT WISELY
When it comes to choosing a seat, there are a two different approaches that work well — which you go with depends on who you already know.
- Get there early and get a seat in the front. If you want to meet the speaker, or you want to meet others who typically sit in the first few rows, get there early and sit there too!
- Get to the room just before the presentation starts, scan the room for empty seats, sit down next to a friendly face you don’t know, and introduce yourself. This is a great way to meet someone you want to meet but are nervous to approach.
Just remember, that if you get there early and snag your seat, leave your stuff and get up and mingle. If you’re nervous or more of an introvert, head to the restroom for a quiet moment, then come back when the room is more full, and chat with people you know on your way back to your seat.
TIP #4: MEET PEOPLE EARLY
Get to the event early before it gets crowded and be sure to say hi and introduce yourself to others. Get to know them and have a real conversation before it gets super busy. Later in the day, on breaks, at lunch, or in the hallway, you’ll be glad to have these new friends.
Why? Introducing yourself to new people is sometimes scary. But saying hello to a new friend you met earlier and asking them what they think of the event so far is easy!
Here’s the trick: Go over and say hello when they’re in a group of other people. Usually they’ll introduce you to them, or they’ll be the welcoming friendly face that makes it easy to join a group and meet new WordPressers.
TIP #5: NETWORK BEFORE WORDCAMP
We’ve already done all the work for you providing an attendees page on this website AND putting together Twitter lists of other WordPressers who will be at WordCamp. Follow the lists, follow the people, and start networking. Reach out to the people you want to connect with at WordCamp in advance. Say hello on Twitter. Let them know you’re looking forward to hearing their talk or meeting them.
Heck, sometimes I even let someone know that I’m totally uncomfortable networking or that I’m an awkward networker, so please if you see me, come say hi! The key is to start building connections and planting seeds before the event that you can follow up on at the event.
For years, my friends were always amazed that at every event we went to, what seemed to them like everyone, knew me already and came up to speak with me. Now this isn’t because I’m that popular or famous or important. It’s because for the weeks leading up to the events, I made connections through Twitter and built relationships. That way at the event it was like seeing old friends.
TIP #6: TWEET THE GOOD STUFF
One of the things I love most about WordCamps are the supportive audiences. They tweet the good stuff like crazy to support the speakers — many of whom are speaking for the first time, or are fairly new to speaking. Show your love for the speakers, the event, and WordPress. It helps everyone, and it gets your face in front of everyone else watching the event Hashtag (#wcsac).
TIP #7: USE SOCIAL MEDIA & WORDPRESS
Post about WordCamp on Facebook or Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and even Google+ (even though it’s dying a slow death). Show others you’re investing in your skills, business, blog, or yourself. Show them you’re out getting it done, doing the work, and investing in your success. This is often a great way to connect with others going to the event, to get in front of others who may not know you yet, and to boost your brand visibility.
It’s also a great idea to blog about your experience. Get some SEO traction for the name of the event, and event the speakers names. It’s a great way to create new content for your blog, to talk about investing in your success, to connect with others, and to get some shares of your content across other networks. When I write recaps of events, or specific talks, those people I write about, or the event organizers, usually always share the article across their networks too! Again, great brand exposure for all parties.
TIP #8: WALK AROUND
While you’ll need to be in your seat to hear the lineup of great presentations we have ready for you, don’t sit there all day! Get up and walk around to meet more people. Hang out in the sponsor/snack room, mingle in the hallways, and when you’re done with your yummy catered Chipotle lunch, get up and walk around to meet more people.
TIP: #9: ATTEND THE AFTER PARTY
It always amazes me how many people skip out on the after party. It’s not people drinking and boozing it up … it’s often more WordPress talk. It’s a chance to speak with the speakers in a more casual setting, to connect with those you may not have had a chance to during the day, remind others of your plans to connect after the event, and to relax. It’s casual. It’s fun. It’s one of my favorite parts of the event!
We can’t wait to meet you
I hope you’ve found these tips helpful! I am so excited about WordCamp and I look forward to meeting you.
And by the way, I am an awkward networker, so if you do see me, please say hello!