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 Gupta. Frankly, his article is a lot better than what I would have come up with myself. =)
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.
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.
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?
Furthermore, you can even connect with people, you met at the camp, over LinkedIn. Make sure you send personalized invitations rather than generic ones.
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!