I’m attending my third WordCamp today (WordCamp Buffalo) and thought I’d share my tips on how to get the most out of it as a first time attendee. You already know I love this WordPress community and I love learning, so combining the two at WordCamps creates a happy place for me!
I hope these help you get the most out of any learning experience you have so you can move your business forward (especially if it’s learning more about making your website work for you and your business!)
What to Expect at WordCamp
A WordCamp, according to WordCamp Central, is “a conference that focuses on everything WordPress. WordCamps are informal, community-organized events that are put together by WordPress users like you. Everyone from casual users to core developers participate, share ideas, and get to know each other.”
My first WordCamp was two years ago here in Rochester, NY and I had no idea what to expect. Now I’m a little more prepared, so I’ll share a list of items to bring with you when you go, a game plan for how to keep track of what you’ve learned and to take action on it.
First and foremost, be prepared to learn, to be a little overwhelmed, and to meet other people who use WordPress. Come with your questions…any questions you may have because there are people there who can help answer them! All of the WordCamps I’ve been to have what’s called a Happiness Bar.
The Happiness Bar is really a place you can to both ask for and offer help to others. You don’t need to be an expert, just willing to help others. You don’t have to be afraid of asking your questions…any questions, because that’s what the people wanting to help are hoping for! At the Happiness Bar, all questions are welcome!
What Sessions to Attend
Take a look at all of the sessions offered. Some may be right where you are learning wise and will reinforce what you already know, but also don’t be afraid to sit in on a session that you think might be a little more advanced for your knowledge. It’ll give you something to work towards and make you aware of new possibilities.
If there is a time slot where no sessions interest you, sit in a public area or at the Happiness Bar. At each WordCamp so far I’ve met some very interesting people this way, even someone I now consider a close biz-bestie! I wouldn’t have met them had I not taken the chance to be open to meeting others.
At the end of each session think about what you learned and think about if it’s something you can and should take action on. If so, make note of it so you remember when you review your notes later.
What to Bring
I brought my laptop to the first WordCamp I attended, but I didn’t really use it. I had it open and sitting on the desk in front of me, but found I listened more and could take more notes on paper (which is just my style). So bring whatever you’d like to take notes on. I haven’t been to a session where I needed my computer to actively participate and learn.
I personally love my new Rocketbook notebook. (Totally not an affiliate…) I love that I can take all the notes I want and then store them in the cloud to pull out later. Its erasable and once I’ve sent the page to the cloud using the app, I can simply wipe it down with water, let dry and then reuse!
Also, bring business cards. I know some people think they are old school, but they make it so easy to just hand to someone after you struck up a conversation with them. You never know when you’ll have slipped one to a possible future client or the person who can introduce you to that future client.
My NoteTaking Tip
There are several sessions throughout the day, and believe me, if you are anything like me you’ll walk away with a lot of ideas and a ton of notes from each session. Some of these you’ll be able to take action on right away. Some you’ll need to learn more about. Still other notes you’ll find you’ll never look at or think about again.
if you take notes by hand like me, having a system in place to find what you’re looking for after WordCamp will help you take action a little easier. I tend to use stars and diamonds, placing them next to notes for things I want to either take action on right away or learn more about. You can probably do this on your computer, too, maybe using italics, bold or different colors to help you see quickly when you review your notes.
Don’t wait too long after Camp to look over all of the notes you’d taken. Review your notes for each session for the things you can take action on right away. Then break that down into manageable steps. Then break those steps down into smaller steps that will help you achieve quick wins.
Look over all of your goals/action steps and figure out what order you want to work on them.
Then actually take the time to schedule these steps on your calendar. You may find yourself needing to set aside time to learn new things, and that is pretty awesome!
Whether you’re not at Buffalo WordCamp right now or not, take these preparation, note-taking and action-taking steps after your next learning adventure and move ahead in achieving your dream business!