WordPress users, developers, and enthusiasts used to gather before the 2020 pandemic at many local events known as meetups and WordCamps. During these two years, they have continued to see each other’s faces online, and between the famous “I can’t hear you, you’re muted” or “I lost you when you said what was important,” many of us couldn’t wait to get together again in person.
It seems that this moment has arrived! The in-person events will comply with all the health regulations of each region and will continue to be as inclusive and diverse as possible, of course! There are already starting to be meetups worldwide, and the first WordCamps (Sevilla last year, Genève, Athens, Vienna, Irun in the coming months) are on the calendar.
If you’re a bit rusty from spending so much time in front of the computer or not having to interact with many people these last months, here are some tips to make your next participation in a WordPress-related event a success:
1. Don’t be afraid to say hello and ask questions
At my first WordCamp, I didn’t understand what was going on. It wasn’t like a marketing or corporate event like the ones I used to attend. Everyone seemed to talk to everyone here… did they know each other before? Some did, but I soon realized that the WordPress community is like a big family, and everyone is willing to lend a hand with whatever you need or chat for a while to make you feel included.
But of course, you have to do your part a little bit. If you have a question at the end of a talk, jump in, I’m sure more than one person in the audience is wondering the same thing. If you want to congratulate a speaker, do it! Or, if you want to share some experience on the subject, you can come up to the speaker at the end and tell them about it in private. Everyone goes to these events to learn and improve, whether you are a speaker, organizer, or a newbie.
2. The Pac-Man rule
When you are in a closed group chatting over coffee during a break or at the entrance or exit, remember this rule: always leave room for one person to join the group. And, once they join, open up again to allow another new person to enter. This way, the conversations are more open, and closed groups are not encouraged, but anyone around can join in to listen or participate.
Obviously, there are private, one-on-one conversations, but this situation happens a lot, and the more voices we can hear, the better. And it’s an excellent way for newcomers to the community to step up and join in.
3. Be aware of the global situation
It’s 2022, and we’re coming off two tough years globally. Everyone is experiencing this pandemic differently and probably very different from our reality. So even if you really want to hug everyone you haven’t seen in a long time, it’s best to initially keep your distance and ask how other people are comfortable.
This is not to say we will lose that closeness – on the contrary! If people know they will feel comfortable, it is more likely that more people will come and interact with the community.
4. Enjoy the talks but remember that they are recorded
When they publish the schedule of talks for the event, you break out in cold sweats: everything looks great! Two talks that you like coincide simultaneously, a workshop that looks great but is going to make you miss another talk that overlaps with it… Argh!
And that’s nothing compared to the feeling that you are having a coffee with an interesting person, and you don’t feel like leaving the conversation in the middle to see that talk you had signed up for… It’s okay! All talks are recorded and uploaded to WordPress.tv so you can check them later. You will miss the live experience and ask the speaker any questions directly, but it is often worth it.
5. But also go to the talks!
Don’t let the previous advice make you think that the essential part of a WordCamp is networking, chatting, and meeting people. It’s not just that! The talks are a crucial part, and there are dozens of speakers who prepare for weeks their talks to condense in a few minutes a lot of knowledge. And our best recognition (since they are also volunteers) is to fill as many chairs as possible to learn from them.
And another recommendation: go to talks that don’t catch your attention. Often the best speakers, the best experiences, the most unexpected knowledge occur in those talks where the name does not engage you, or the subject does not seem to be your thing… If the organization team has chosen that talk… it is undoubtedly worth it.
6. Visit the sponsors!
Do you know how much it costs -in money- to organize a WordCamp? All that free food and coffee doesn’t come out of the air! It’s all possible thanks to ticket sales (usually priced as low as possible) and, above all, thanks to the sponsors. They support the event and the community, and in return, they are given a booth… where they often give away more goodies!
So if you happen to be at an event and we’re there, stop by and say hello. And not only us, stop by the stands of all the sponsors, ask them what products they have, how was the trip to the event or if you can take that merchandising with you (spoiler: surely, yes).
7. Blog about your experience
I’ve always heard that “a WordCamp isn’t over until you write about it.” Blogs may not be at the peak of their popularity, but you should have one. And there you should tell what your experience was like: the talks you liked the most, the people you met, a food review or anecdotes (of those that you can tell) from the After Party which I also recommend you to go to.
We all like to read the vision of other people who have been to the same event and know their impressions. Comment on the blogs of other attendees and keep the relationship with them, even sitting in front of your computer again. WordCamps never end if you live it to the fullest.
See you at WordCamp Europe, and let’s put these tips into practice – I look forward to seeing you!
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