For anyone using a WordPress website, whether blogger, developer, ecommerce store owner or someone in digital marketing, there is no event as important as the WordCamp, the conference that brings all WordPress professionals under one roof.
WordCamps happen at the city-level in countries across the world and dates for several of them have already been announced. They are excellent opportunities to network, learn how to optimize your online presence, learn in-depth about how WordPress functions and use these insights for your marketing, and of course, get to know the various people within the community and build your network.
Now, if you have attended one before, you can probably tell us in the comments section how your first WordCamp experience was, and what tips helped you make the best of it. If not, read on to find how we think you can overcome the initial anxiety of attending such an event.
Plan, Plan, Plan
A large part of any kind of success, whether it is to build a business or further yourself professionally, is to plan right. When attending a WordCamp the first thing you want is to get a hotel that is close to the venue. WordCamps are day-long events and you want to spend the least time travelling.
Next, look at the programme. What are the sessions that will help you? As a blogger, a tech-specific session won’t help you as much as a marketing session. That way, you can understand more about how to promote your content and your website.
Your planning should also depend on your level of comfort with WordPress. Let’s take for example the WordCamp at Ahmedabad, which was held in December 2018. Their schedule included such sessions as The Recipe of Launching a WordPress Product, Opportunities as a Plugin developer, Front-end tooling and DX for WordPress Development, Taking Freelancing to the Next Level, Starting Your Own Agency and the Modern WordPress Development Environment among others.
Now, if you are a businessman the session on Recipe of Launching a WordPress Product will be most helpful to you. As a writer, a photographer or a professional, you might have attended the Taking Freelancing to the Next Level session. If you’ve started out as a developer, then the session on Modern WordPress Development Environment might suit you. So take a couple of hours and decide for yourself.
Work to Network
Besides the workshops and talks, there are also dedicated time slots for networking. Regular attendees may not find it difficult, in fact, meeting familiar faces is part of the reason you are there in the first place. But first timers may often be stuck in one of the two scenes: quietly standing aside with your lunch, or sticking to your team, not venturing out. Both are disastrous.
All the list of the speakers and attendees are public for every WordCamp. Without stalking too much, you can look up people you would like to connect with. Visit their WordPress or LinkedIn profiles, drop them a message and reach out. This way, you will have a network before you have even entered the venue.
Keep an eye out for authors of WordPress plugins you use, and seek them out at the venue to connect with them.
And if nothing, just go to a sponsor stall and introduce yourself, what you do and why you are at the Camp. Safe and sure way of beginning the sometimes arduous journey of networking.
What To Carry
While a large part of your time is spent in learning, eating and talking to other people, there are some things you should keep handy with you.
- An Updated Resume: It’s more than common to have companies looking for new hires at the venue. While you may not need a physical copy, it’s best to have a ready PDF to forward.
- In the past, we have gone through the profile of attendees to look for potential employees, reaching out to them on public profiles. So, keep your online presence active, and make sure to use it, especially as a networking tool before, after and during the conference.
- Diary and pen, or the digital equivalent of note-taking tools so that you don’t miss out important points from the sessions. While at least one swag kit you receive will have a diary, you can also use apps such as Evernote, Bear, Quip or other note-taking apps.
Tips and Tricks
We have participated in several WordCamps over the last couple of years, as sponsors and speakers. So we have a few key takeaways for companies attending their first WordCamp.
Attending as a team is undoubtedly very different from going as an individual. Firstly, make sure that neither you nor the members of your team stick to yourselves. At previous WordCamps, I have asked my employees to consciously interact with five new people each day and grow their individual network, outside their workplace. As a leader, it is your responsibility to ensure this happens.
The second tip is slightly less obvious, and is applicable to both individuals and companies. No matter how many phone numbers, emails or visiting cards you collect over the conference, networking efforts come to zilch if you don’t follow-up. In the week following the WordCamp, go back to every person you have met and see if there is scope for professional collaborations of any sort, either for business or for promotions. Only then will you be able to go from building networks to building relationships in the industry, the long-term goal of any career-driven individual.
Breakfast, lunch and snacks are mostly available, so is water. Keep a portable charger at hand, for emergencies. Don’t forget to carry an extra cloth bag for all the swag you are going to return with! Above all, meet new people and use this as the best damn opportunity to expand your career interests, in whatever capacity they may be.