A Survival Guide To WordCamps For First Time Attendees

Survival Guide Featured Image
photo credit: Steve Rhodescc

WordCamps are excellent opportunities to learn WordPress and have of face-to-face interaction with a lot of different people. They can also be exhausting and possibly stressful for first timers. Carrie Dils has an awesome WordCamp Survival Guide filled with tips and information on how to get the most out of these events.

Tip number five (don’t sit by yourself at lunch) routinely happens to me at WordCamps.

When the last morning session breaks, there will be a mad dash to the lunch line (did someone say “food?!”). You’ll grab a sack lunch lovingly provided by some volunteer and then you’ll stand there, possibly awkward and not sure where to go. It’s lunch on the first day at a new school all over again.

Try this: Head over to any table with open spots and simply ask to sit down. Unless you just really need that lunch break for personal time, don’t miss an opportunity to meet folks over lunch!

I struggle with introducing myself to people I’ve never met before. At WordCamps, I’m generally extroverted but I’ve noticed at larger camps, I become introverted. It’s a personality thing I’ve been fighting with for the past few years with mild success. I keep telling myself that I’m going to introduce myself to everyone I see at a WordCamp but it never works out that way. I end up finding a group of people I’m familiar with and stick with them. Does anyone else struggle with introversion at WordCamps?

The survival guide is filled with great information but I think the most important point is the last and that’s to have fun.


17 responses to “A Survival Guide To WordCamps For First Time Attendees”

  1. I hear you Jeff. I struggle with introversion and shyness, including at WordCamps. I love meeting those kind extroverts who are willing to introduce people to each other and make everyone around them feel comfortable, they are the best!

    • A lot of people are surprised when I tell them I get introverted at WordCamps, with the nature of my job and all. Sometimes, I’ll go to these events and have a great time meeting all sorts of new people. At others, I walk around aimlessly, not meeting new people and just wanting to go home lol. This is one of the reasons why I’ve been aiming towards going to smaller WordCamps. Less people to meet, more of a small-town atmosphere and even higher chances for introductions to occur. You’re right, the kind extroverts that introduce the introverts are the best!

  2. I hadn’t been to a huge camp in a while but went to WCNYC a few weeks ago. The event was awesome but it is overwhelming for me, even as an extrovert, when there were that many people at the camp. With a camp of that size, everyone seems to know someone and you end up more fractured in groups than I have experienced at camps with just a few hundred people. I believe they sold almost 700 tickets for NYC. I think I prefer a little smaller WordCamp. Not sure the right number but it seems around 300-350 usually feels best to me.

    • I think it’s fascinating if you put a group of 30-40 people in a room where some know each other and others don’t, these clicks form or small groups. Isolated silos which in many cases, don’t have an interest in being introduced to a different silo. Ahhh, the social intricacies of being a human!

  3. I spent a decent chunk of WordCamp Europe scampering around trying to find shy people and then introducing them to others. So you should come to a WordCamp that I’m at and I’ll make sure you meet lots and lots of people :)

  4. I’ll be attending my first WordCamp in San Francisco. I never had a conversation with anyone before, so I am not sure where will I end up :)

  5. I’m an introvert. In some situations I’m so introvert that I’m close to the border of light autism. I hate smalltalk, or better put, I feel uncomfortable having to smalltalk. I also hate to “stalk” people I would have liked to talk to, to interrupt other people when they are talking together, and so on. I like to observe and think. So why to I go to WordCamps?

    For me, attending a WordCamp, is mostly about the feeling of being part of something huge, widespread and international, the greatest and most important web application ever created.

    My first WordCamp was WordCamp San Francisco in 2011. No less. In my career I have been to some conferences and a few conventions. I have also been to big festivals and mega concerts, with thousands of people. But that WordCamp was the most inspiring event I had ever attended. A thousand people from all over the globe, coming together for sharing something about a common interest and passion! What a wonderful world we live in!

    I talked to Microsoft about running WordPress on Windows servers, I met I guy out smoking a cigarette illegally, talking about the terror and massacre that happened in Norway just a few weeks before, I actually talked to Nacin, the guru, after he spoke, and had some conversations with other attendees on MUNI/BART back to hotel, and over a beer after hours. None of them will remember me.

    Most of all, it was the atmosphere, the sessions, the community feeling, sitting in the audience while listening and watching. Experiencing the sharing of knowledge and inspiration.

    But what happened afterwards, back home, is that I “quit” my job (I wasn’t really employed, working self employed) making Windows Order systems and such, and very proprietary web applications for very special purposes. I decided to try make a living out of knowing WordPress and develop around it. And I did. It hadn’t happened if not for my unplanned, or very shortly planned, trip to SF/US. I didn’t even have a ticket. I just showed up early.

    I have no desire to make friends, getting introduced, show off my skills or wisdom, getting a name out there. But I like to share knowledge about any subject. I like it when people dedicate their time to hear my out a bit, because, just may be, I can inspire them, just like I get inspired by others who share their knowledge and inspirations.

    So I won’t skip a session just to “hang out” or try to get in contact with people. I even wouldn’t interrupt the applause after a session. I don’t care about “you”, who I don’t know. I care about the “us”.

    I’m usually just annoyed by extroverts, those always being the vocal minority. Please don’t find me and making me get introduced to someone. But if you want my views, wanting me to share experiences on any matter or subject, feel free to talk to me and don’t go away at the first excuse, just to “circle” around and meet as many as possible. I’m usually a bit boring and shy the first 5 minutes, but never longer, and I’ll buy the first beer.

    Happy Wordcamp. Happy WordCamp Europe in September!

    • Great story and thanks for sharing. What a delicate balance that is to be an extrovert but no so much so that it’s annoying to people lol. You picked a hell of event to be your first WordCamp. Glad to hear how inspiring it was to you. I don’t like small talk either but sometimes it helps to break the ice a bit.

    • If you happen to be in Oslo this week, feel free to stop by Mesh cafe to meet another WordPress peep. I’m working from there for the week :)

  6. Unfortunately my finances don’t allow me to fly to the US or Europe to attend to a Wordcamp but I’d love to.
    I’m an introverted by nature by I have a two sided personality. I’ve been a public speaker for different companies during my past career in a different field. My speeches could range from very technical courses to promotional meetings with 300+ attendees in the room. When I am the speaker I become extroverted and talk to anyone. It’s as if the fact that I speak already introduces me to anyone so I don’t have to.
    If I am just an attendee I tend to stay more by myself but I always love to talk to other people if I have the chance to, even if I’m not a good ‘small talker’

  7. I’m in the same boat Jeff. I’m generally a very shy person around new people, so It’s hard to open up and be myself around others I’m just meeting. Time helps me come out of my shell, I have yet to find anything else that does the same.

    Hopefully I’ll open up a bit and meet some new people in San Francisco!

    • Yes, time helps, but you only have one or two days at a WordCamp which isn’t much time :) Come find me or I’ll come find you in San Francisco. I’ll be there.


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