WordCamp LA 2015. Such Thanks. Awesome Camp. Much Win.

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Stole that title from Josh Koenig. Thanks. WordCamp Los Angeles 2015 is over and done with, at least in one sense. There are still things to clean-up and close-out for the organizing team and get things ready for the next WordCamp. 

My hope is that all of you who attended, attendees, speakers, sponsors, and volunteers—got something out of this and that you enjoyed your experience. For those of you attending the first time, welcome! I hope you received a glimpse into what we feel makes this community special. We love it and so do a great many others. I think that shows with so many people giving their time so generously.

WordCamps take many months of planning to pull off, regardless of their size. Our WordCamps wouldn’t be possible without generous donations from our amazing sponsors. So, if you would, go on and thank them on Twitter, Facebook or where ever it is they have a presence. To our sponsors, THANK YOU! We know that sponsoring isn’t an opportunity to advertise and may not seem like the most savvy business decision. However, it is an investment in the community and that is what matters most. Being present and connecting within the community. I’m glad to see so many sponsors who understand this and really take time to participate and engage. I know our attendees appreciate it.

To our awesome speakers. THANK YOU. Thanks for traveling from far and wide, on your own dime, to share your knowledge. I hope you came away feeling your time was worth it. We were thrilled to have each and every one of you as speakers. We had a lot of new voices to go along with some old favorites. We got to experience new ways of looking at old problems, from making a making a more accessible web to how we look at the concept of a digital-afterlife and so much more. It’s you lot that our attendees pay to see, so thanks for making us look amazing. =)

To our WCLAX volunteer militia, THANK YOU. It’s not easy sitting down in 95+ degree weather, putting a smile on your face, getting up super-duper early and doing a lot of hard work. It’s a thankless job, at times, but it’s appreciated. This has been the smoothest camp we’ve been a part of and that’s in large part to your dedication and love to and for the community. We’re not worth! We’re not worthy!

Our volunteer organizers also get a huge THANKS and our gratitude. These are folks who took up a particular task and saw it through, start to finish so we didn’t have to worry about it. A huge shout out to Se Reed for making the after party happen. We never have to worry about a thing; she just does it and more important hits under the budget ensuring the WordPress foundation doesn’t strangle us. I want to personally thank Beebe Lee for scouting out and selecting a most excellent spot for our speaker/sponsor dinner. I said, “I want to feed a lot of people and not have to stay until 3am to clean-up.” She delivered. ++++++A would buy from again. Thank you, Beebe, for making my life so much easier. Next, I want to thank Ryan Cowles, for constructing and putting up the  WordCamp LA website. You’re a good kid, but shave your beard, hippy! Also, I would like to thank Kari Leigh Marucchi, of Found Art Photography. She flew clear across the country just to snap photos of our event. How awesome is that? Kari Leigh, you’re a star. Thank YOU! Lastly, Bridget Willard; undoubtedly you saw our social engagement was “on fleek.” Rather, it was on-point. We asked Bridget to help the day before tickets went on sale. She hit a home run for us and required little to no direction from us. She loves what she does and it shows, doesn’t it? THANK YOU!

I would like to give a big shout out to our super heroes at the WordPress Foundation, Michael Wiggington, Andrea Middleton, Brandon Dove, Cami (Cam Bam) Kaos, and Josepha Haden. Your guidance and help makes running these things so easy. Seriously. We couldn’t do this without your support! You all rock!

Finally, I want to thank my fellow organizers. Everyone has lives to juggle and thank you for adding WordCamp planning to the mix. I’ve said it multiple times: This has been the easiest camp to organize. Natalie MacLees (Awesome brand design and a lot of other heavy lifting), Adam Silver (Volunteer Wrangler), Greg Douglas (Speaker Wrangler), and Nathan Tyler (Sponsor Wrangler, Rental Truck Driver). Please help me in thanking them. If you see them online, please thank them. If you see them in person, buy them a beer, or a snow cone. They deserve it.

You all made it so easy because you all just handled what needed to be done. My sanity thanks you!

Next time, let’s try not to spill curry on the shirts or let Natalie’s cats sit in the shirt boxes. Oh and if any of your are allergic to cats, you can blame this guy:

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What I’d like to leave you with are these thoughts… Community. It doesn’t just happen. It happens when people make a decision to get involved. I those of you who are just getting a taste of the community to keep coming back and to get involved. For those of you who do participate, ask yourself: “What else can I do to participate?” The answer is that there are lots of ways to give back to the community.

A great community really is a gift and it is only as good as what we, within the community, put back into it. Not everything within the community is sunshine and rainbows, of course, but it is what we make it and that’s something that we have the ability to affect positively. That only happens when we’re present and participate. Fortunately we’re pretty good about making sure our community rocks!

What you learned, who you met, how you were inspired will go on with you where ever you go. One thing that is a unifying theme at Camps is that it’s important to take all that knowledge and all those good vibes and put them back out into the world around you, however it is you do that just find the way that works for you. For some, they write books, or inspire women to write code. For others, they inspire people to design the type of businesses they can be proud of using their larger-than-life-persona, some create nifty podcasts that “pull back the curtain” behind what goes on behind the scenes of the world of WordPress, while others code up a storm and create products and deliver projects with amazing skill and dedication… I could go on and on, but we’re not writing a book here. (actually, I did, didn’t I?)

My point is that there are many ways to take what you’ve learned and absorbed and put that back into the world. How will you do it? What will be your story? For me, that’s probably the best part of a WordCamp; and that’s to see who the next awesome person is to share what they know and wow audiences. Any of us can do that. How will YOU accomplish that?

Thank you all! Let’s do it again soon!

Getting the Most Out of Your WordCamp

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We like to post articles on how to get the most out of a WordCamp before the event actually happens. I’ve written these up the past couple of years. However, for the sake of time, I found a post by Anil GuptaFrankly, his article is a lot better than what I would have come up with myself. =)

Originally posted here: https://pune.wordcamp.org/2015/2015/07/24/20-things-you-should-do-to-get-the-most-out-of-wordcamp-pune/


WordCamps are all about meeting interesting people, listening to enlightening talks from WordPress Gurus and of course, countless cups of coffee! ☺

If you are a WordPress Developer or have something to do with WordPress, I reckon, it’s absolutely worth attending one. I happened to attend one of these camps in San Francisco last year and thoroughly relished the event. (BTW, there were 81 WordCamps held alone in 2014.)

I was able to get a whole new perspective on WordPress Development, see how WordPress is saving lives and moving Governments (an interesting session by Paul Clark) and develop long-term partnerships.

Before you attend any WordCamp, I suggest, you do some pre-planning to get more bang for your buck.

I have compiled a list of such things which you can do before, during and after the camp.

PRE-CAMP

1. Set your goals

Before you buy a ticket, think why you are attending a WordCamp. Is it to network, make a sale, learn new stuff, have fun or build partnerships? This will help you decide the course of action to take while attending the event. Have a clear goal in your mind before heading to the event.

2. Review the website – https://2015.la.wordcamp.org

Check the previously held Camp’s website and the current one too. See what topics have been covered in the past. Also, don’t forget to look at the agenda. This will help you decide (depending on your goals) what sessions you must attend. See who the speaker’s are, what’s their background etc.

3. Be Proactive 

Now that you have the agenda and list of speakers, connect with them via Twitter. Twitter is an awesome platform for connecting with fellow attendees and speakers. Conference hashtags often seem to be trending before the actual day arrives. Make sure you follow the speakers and other influential people attending the camp.

 Here’s an example what you can do:

“So excited to attend #wclax in September! Tweet at me if you’ll be there too.”

4. Videos are cool

Plan to shoot a short 1-2 minutes video featuring you attending the event. You can even use professional help. Here are links to the videos I and my partner Aslam got created. Make sure you speak relevant stuff in your video.

5. Stash up your cards 

Make sure you stock plenty of business cards. If you don’t have one, you would want to order a pack to make your brand look professional at the event. You never know how many people you will meet at the camp. Furthermore, you can install apps like CardMunch (free) on your iPhone to convert business cards (you will collect at the conference) into contacts.

6. Be an early bird

Register early for the camp. WordCamp tickets are known to sell out quickly. However, don’t lose your heart if you don’t get one. WordCamps are known for creating a sense of urgency in the beginning to sell more tickets. They do offer tickets later too. But, it’s advisable to get your hands on a ticket early.Few camps offer the live streaming so for those, who can’t travel can pay few bucks to watch the live streaming. 

 7. Consider sponsoring

If you are a WordPress Development Agency, consider sponsoring the event. It helps events like WordCamp run smoothly, plus, it gives your company sufficient exposure. There are several types of sponsorships. You can choose the one that fits in your budget and purpose.

8. Keep your questions ready

After reviewing the agenda and speakers, you might also want to prepare a list of relevant questions pertaining to the sessions you are attending. This will help you noticed too ☺. Here’s a good article on how to ask questions that make a difference.

DURING THE CAMP

9. Sit strategically

The location of your seat has a big impact. Think about it! Most WordCamps that you will attend have a classroom setup. However, depending on the size of the audience, the room can become extremely crowded, so sitting towards the front makes complete sense.

If the camps are bigger in size, they follow the assembly set up like this. The ideal position to sit in such case is highlighted in blue color.

Try avoiding sitting at last because it sends a signal that you are not so serious about the session. Plus, sitting strategically also gets you noticed and is extremely helpful in QA round. However, once a session gets over, you should rotate your seating to get to know other people.

 10. Ask Questions

Studies suggest, we tend to ask fewer questions as we get older. However, posing relevant, thoughtful questions at WordCamp can lead to engaging discussions which make you appear well-informed. A More Beautiful Question by Warren Berger is an interesting read on how asking questions has the power to spark game-changing ideas.

You can learn the art of proper questioning before you attend the event. For instance, there are four types of questions you can ask. Each of these has a different goal.

 11. Interact & Network

Starting off conversations at events can be intimidating, especially for introverts. However, with the right technique and approach, you can easily start interacting and networking with people around. Remember, it’s the individual conversations that you will have with people are more enlightening than sessions.

Start by introducing yourself to an individual who’s also attending solo. Gradually start mingling with people in groups. You should ideally also plan to introduce yourself to some big people who are attending the conference (in this case people from the core WordPress team).

You can approach them with confidence and introduce yourself by saying something that’s thought-provoking. Check out Conference Crushing by Tyler Wagner for more pro tips.

Use apps like Evernote Hello to keep a track of your connections. It’s an awesome networking app. Its Hello Connect feature allows you to get in touch with a group of people.

12. Be Social

Use the social media cleverly while attending a WordCamp. Keep monitoring which hashtags are trending and keep posting relevant tweets. Comment, share, retweet and engage in live social media conversations to connect with your fellow attendees and WordPress enthusiasts across the globe. Tweeting back and forth useful information can, sometimes, lead you to meeting people and establishing long term relationships.

What should you tweet and share?

  • Tweet your key takeaways from sessions
  • You can also keep posting information while a session is going on
  • You can even post funny (but relevant) posts
  • Take pictures and tag people (in a decent way)
  • Comment on other people’s post

Use tools like Twitter for networking in real-time, connecting with friends via Facebook  Messenger and Tweetwally to create your own tweet wall. Also, tools like TweetDeck and HootSuite allow you to streamline your social media accounts, you can schedule posts and concentrate on the conference.

 13. Don’t miss Keynote Sessions

Make sure to attend the keynote session when the camp begins. Usually these sessions are taken by people from the core WordPress team. You can familiarize yourself with upcoming trends, new features to be rolled out and similar other insights about WordPress platform.

 14. Take Notes

Before you take notes, understand the purpose behind it. Is it to make a presentation or a blog post or just sharing insights with the team? This will help you decide on the approach and tools to use. However, taking notes might be cumbersome. Sometimes in the midst of taking notes, we forget to listen what speakers are talking about.

The average note-taking speed for most of us is 0.3 to 0.4 words per second, whereas, speakers tend to speak around 2 to 3 words per second. This incongruity often leads to many attendees missing out on key points.

Here are tips/tools you can use to take plenty of notes

  • Use Evernote, Springpad or Folderboy
  • Word completion apps are handy
  • Use SMS abbreviations and macros
  • Process notes with annotation tools like A.nnotate and Apollo
  • Camera apps are great for taking snapshots of PPT slides

 15. Divide into groups

If you are going in groups, spread out! Attend different sessions to gain maximum knowledge and insights. Later, you can share the wisdom amongst yourselves. While spreading out, make sure people with specific interests & expertise attend specific sessions. This will help you derive maximum advantage.

 16. Looks Matter

Wear your best outfit for this event. Ideally you should wear networking style clothing to tech conferences as it makes you appear serious. The pattern, color and fabric of your attire matter a lot. Don’t go for fancy suits. Remember, you must feel comfortable with the outfit because you need to spend almost 8 hours or probably more at the conference.

AFTER THE CAMP

17. Write a Blog Post

Prepare an engaging piece that lists down your key takeaways from the event. Don’t just blurt boring text. Instead coming up interesting titles like “20 things I learnt at WordCamp 2014” or “10 things I would have never known had I not attended the WordCamp 2014”. Have plenty of accompanying images (that match the context) to make your post compelling. You can even prepare a slideshare presentation with rich design.

This blog post must be written immediately after the event is over. Ideally it should be live after the day the event is over. This will help drive considerable traffic to your website. Here’s an example of such a post.

18. Share your Learnings

Arrange a 1-2 hour session with your team members to discuss what you learnt at the conference, people you met and the overall experience. Based on this, you can identify what your next goals should be (in case you are a developer or an agency). You can even consider preparing a PPT and email it to your team.

You can also create a design centric email in the form of a newsletter and send an email to all employees. This email can contain images from the conference, what were your key takeaways etc. This will be sort of more interactive in nature.

 19. Say Thank You

Once you are back, send a Thank You Email to all those you connected with at WordCamp. Ideally the thank you note should be personalized depending on the conversations you had with each individual.

 Here’s an example.

Hello [INSERT NAME]

It was a pleasure meeting you at WordCamp 2015. Your ideas on WordPress were quite insightful and a great help to me. Thank you for making time to meet with me and for sharing your thoughts.

 Sincerely,

 [YOUR NAME]

 20. Follow up & connect

If you are a WordPress Agency and have generated contacts and leads at WordCamp, you must follow up with them. Tools like relate.ly can be extremely handy.

A Harvard Business Review Study states that 71% of qualified leads are never followed up. This can be disastrous for your business.

Connect over LinkedIn if you haven’t before the event. Send personalized invitations for getting in touch.

Here’s an example you can follow-up email.

Hi [INSERT NAME]

I enjoyed meeting you at WordCamp 2015. I was really inspired by your approach towards engineering WordPress Websites and Applications.

You said you were looking to partner with a WordPress Development Agency to grow your business. I would like to take this conversation further with you again soon. How does your calendar look like in the coming week?

Cheers,

[YOUR NAME]

Furthermore, you can even connect with people, you met at the camp, over LinkedIn. Make sure you send personalized invitations rather than generic ones.           

Conclusion

WordCamps are really exciting events to attend. With little preparation and right approach & techniques by your side, you can completely nail it. Above all, don’t forget to relax, enjoy the event and make friends ☺ 

Did I miss out on any points? Have you ever attended a WordCamp? What was your experience like? Please share your comments below. 

Would be great to connect with you!

We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Badges, But You Do!

Hey look what fearless co-organizer and resident Unicorn, Natalie Maclees, put together! Badges for WordCamp LA! Just about all the badges you could want…

Pick these bad-ass badges up and use them on your website and help us promote WordCamp LA! =)

sponsor (1)
wclax-speaker-badge

Get to Know Your Local Community: Route 66 WordPress Meetup Group in Glendora

By now you should know that in SoCal there are no shortage of local WordPress meetups. On the outskirts of LA County, on the cusp of the Inland Empire, in the town of Glendora, is a brand-spankin’ new WordPress Meetup: The Route66 WordPress meetup group! This new and awesome group will be meeting at the Kicks on 66  co-working space in Glendora. It’s a wonderful space as well, run by Zach Swire, founder of the startup e-Good.

The meetup is co-run by two awesome local community members, Peter S. Parker and Christopher Frazier (Frazier Media), both of whom are great people that I have had the chance to get to know. I can’t think of two more passionate individuals to head this group up.

If you’re in the general vicinity of Glendora, you NEED to hit up their meetup. In fact their first meetup is August 11th! Which happens to be the day after speaker submissions are due people! Be sure to checkout and RSVP for their meetup!

Get to Know Your Local Community: Hollywood WordPress

Continuing our blog posts about the LA area WordPress community, I bring you the Hollywood WordPress meetup group, headed up by the incomparable Greg Douglas! His hair is almost as cool as my own, but he’s got a soothing voice, and business acumen for days! Yes, days!!

Mr. Douglas is the agency principal of Premium Interactive and co-found of Arc-Ctrl as well as one of the guys behind Code Cavalry, a service that connects web professionals to people who need a little bit of help.

The Hollywood WordPress discusses a lot about building your own consultancy or pushing your business forward using WordPress. That’s one of the things I love about these meetups, they’re all a little bit different and have their own voice and personality.

Greg’s a wonderful moderator who gets the most out of his guests for his attendees. Be sure to check out the meetup details here: http://www.meetup.com/hollywood-wordpress/

Get Those Speaker Submissions In

Hey folks, with things in full-swing planning wise, we have announcements forthcoming for the tracks we’re planning. We’ll begin pairing down our speaker selections soon, in preparation for announcing speakers after the August 10th deadline.

What does that all mean? It means you all need to up your game and submit a talk, if you haven’t already. Get down on it, people. You have until Aug 10th to make your voice heard and sharing your awesomeness with the LA WP community.

Get to Know Your Community: South Bay WordPress Meetup

highres_330920362If you’re in the greater LA area and live in and around the South Bay then you should probably know about the South Bay meetup, if you don’t already!

The South Bay meetup is led by one of our very own organizers, Adam Silver, who runs the Kitchen Sink WP Podcast and also the ConciergeWP maintenance service.

Adam is a swell guy, with a keen eye for photography and funny quips for days. He’s an avid WordPressor and active community participant. If you’ve been a part of the SoCal WP community for any length of time then no doubt you’ve crossed paths and conversations with Mr. Silver.

Be sure to checkout the details for upcoming South Bay WordPress meetups here: http://www.meetup.com/South-Bay-WordPress-Meetup-Group/

Get to Know Your Local Community: Karen McCamy

2a05ff5A lot of people that attend a WordCamp do so for the first time, in the case of LA, we find more folks attending for the first time than those who are returning attendees. Cool stuff, right? I think so, too! So I’d like to tell you all about Karen McCamy, she’s a swell person who educates a swath of people at her WordPress 101 group. Any skill level is welcome, but she really shines in helping people just finding their way in using WordPress.

I haven’t known Karen all that long, but I usually hear her name mentioned at some point, or see her at a local WP event. She’s a wonderful resource that people rave about on and on!

So if you happen to be one of those people looking for a light along the way as you learn WordPress, definitely reach out to Karen and attend her meetup group. You’ll be glad you did!