This past weekend I attended Word Camp Fayetteville. A quick glance at the top of your screen will quickly make you question my motives. "Why Paige," you're probably thinking, "You don't have a WordPress site. Why would you go and do a silly thing like attend a conference based around software that you don't have?"
One word my friends: Networking.
And yes, I actually learned a lot about the business, techincal, and content-related aspects of blogging while I was there. But the sense of community that I gained was invaluable and, from past experience, the opportunity to network and put faces with names is almost always the greatest benefit of any conference regardless of what industry you're in.
Here's how to do it:
Be yourself.This is Stephanie. Stephanie blogs at Evolved Mommy and is a social media tour de force. Stephanie was just about to dole out her social media knowledge via (super fun) presentation when I caught a glimpse of her on her phone. Instead of hyperventilating into a paper bag (like what I would be doing pre-presentation), she was tweeting. Because that's what she does. That's who she is. (Also- the first point of her social media presentation, "Be yourself." You can't make this stuff up!!)
All conference attendees could benefit from knowing that it's much easier to have a successful conference when you're being yourself. You're an introvert? Figure out the conference hashtag and let that be your microphone. You're an extrovert? Hit up the refreshment table and see how many new friends you can make.
Find awesome people.These cool kids are Brian, Annette, and Heidi. Though I didn't spend a lot of time with any of them (boo), when we were together we talked and laughed and tweeted one another mid presentation. (Manners alert: Apparently that's the polite thing to do during a tech conference!!)
Everything is more fun when you're with awesome people; at your conference, make it a point to find some.
Don't be scared of what you don't know.As I mentioned the other day, I am not a numbers girl. So when the "How to Learn Google Analytics in 40 Minutes" session came up (by the insanely engergetic Algela Belford of The Belford Group) I was very much intimidated. Intimidated but present. "How does this fit into the 'networking' theme?" you ask. Talk about it!! Unless you're at a MENSA conference (and maybe even then too) send out a tweet that says something the effect of "Eek! This is scary, I don't get it!" or "Help! What is she talking about?!" You'd be suprised at the number of people that either
A- feels the same way you do or
B- actually knows the answer and want to show off their knowledge (i.e. assist you).
Either way, you have another opportunity to befriend more people at your conference.
Go together!That quote that Cory Miller from IThemes used kind of rocked my world and it totally applies to conferences!!
Does it take time, energy and effort to successfully attend a conference? Yes, it does. Is it worth it in the end when you realize all the potential networking benefits that have come from attending? Yes, most definitely.
What are your "rules" when attending a conference??
Share so that we can all get better!!