Carrie Dils, a WordPress developer from Fort Worth, Texas, recently published a wonderful post about surviving a WordCamp for noobs. I really enjoyed her post and it sparked some more thoughts from my first WordCamp experience in Spring 2014 at WCATX. This post is in response to her post as well as in addition to.
What Not To Wear…
Carrie makes great points about dressing casually, being okay with skipping sessions, and not stressing out. But, by far, I believe the most important one was to not be shy. I sit somewhere between shy and outgoing. At times I want nothing more than to sit alone in my room and read a good book. But other times, I want to dive into a group of people and talk with each and every one of them. But most of the time, I simply fall somewhere in the middle. Unfortunately, I chose to fall towards the shy side at WCATX. I spoke with a few new people, but mostly sat at the tables in the common room by myself. I did introduce myself to @nacin, which was a cool experience, but I didn’t interact with most of the people that I was intent on meeting.
How To Thrive
So my advice would be this. If you listen to nothing else I or Carrie say, GO OUT AND MEET PEOPLE. Introduce yourself to everyone you sit by in sessions, at lunch, and in the keynotes. Go by the sponsor tables and meet their teams. Find out if you can help them or they can help you. Sit with different people every time you get a chance. Introduce yourself to those people you know on Twitter. If you need help finding people on Twitter, check out the WordCamp’s attendee list (like the DFW one, here). Honestly, finding a group that is going out after the sessions are done each night was a huge leap for me, but I made it and came away with more knowledge and some good conversations (and beer).
The key is to put yourself out there, even if that makes you a bit uncomfortable. At WCATX, I took baby steps. For one, it was my first WordCamp. Second, I did introduce myself to a few people. Third, I tried to focus on others stories and making sure I wasn’t doing all the talking. But at WordCamp DFW, I plan on introducing myself to everyone (if I can) and having as many great conversations as I can fit into the one day event. Heck, I’m gonna try to stay awake for some sort of late night Waffle House run or something. 🙂
Put It Into Practice
So what now? How about coming to WordCamp DFW on October 4, 2014? I’ve been helping organize the event and can say with all honesty that it is going to be a wildly awesome ride. We’ve got smart people speaking, great sessions, great fun, and lots of great people already signed up to be there. So why not you? I’ve already got my ticket and can’t wait for it to get here. In fact, let me know if you’re coming and I’d love to meet you and hear your WordPress story.