Making the Most of WordCamp Sydney

Sure there are some seasoned WordCamp veterans out there but maybe this is the first WordCamp or even first big conference you’re going to.  You may be coming as a speaker, sponsor, volunteer or atendee and we’re sure you’ve got some questions.

Perhaps you’re not sure if a session matches your current skill level or you’re on your own and feel a bit overwhelmed.

We want you to make the most out of WordCamp Sydney so here are some tips and information to help you do just that.  Remember you can always ask us questions in person at the conference or via the comment box below.

What is WordCamp and What Should I Expect from WordCamp Sydney?

WordCamps are local, volunteer-run technical conferences designed to embrance open source software and foster WordPress community in an educational setting for all levels of WordPress users.

These “camps” are created so you can dive into the world of WordPress, discussing and learning in a friendly community of like-minded individuals.

WordPress Sydney brings together local and national developers, designers, SEO gurus, marketing people, artists, writers, business owners, IT consultants, enthusiasts and of course newcomers to network, brainstorm and share their knowlege.

Your job is to have fun, perhaps learn some new things and make some new friends and/or business contacts.


How Can I Prepare? What Should I Bring?

  • Dress for comfort.
    The venue is enclosed and air conditioned so perhaps a warm top would be usefull if the aircon is a bit too chilly. You will be sitting down for 30-40 mins at a time and our coffee cart is outside.
    If your primary goal is to create some business contacts perhaps dress smart casual.  It’s unlikely you’ll see anyone in a business suit or shirt and tie.  WordCamps are a bit laid back so you’ll see plenty of t-shirts, shorts and jeans.  Perhaps even the odd onesie.
  • Meet up with somebody.
    This may be your first time at a big conference and you may be a bit nervous. Why not sign up with a friend and come along together?
    Or you can watch the #WCSyd hashtag and reach out to some of the people in the conversation.  Ask to meet them at the conference registration on day 1.
    Make it fun by challenging yourself to make 10 new contacts over the weekend!
  • Bring a small bag or backpack.
    There’s usually some good swag (freebies) to be had a WordCamps. It goes pretty quickly but you may run out of pockets to store them if you’re not prepared.
    Plus you’ll need somewhere to store your water bottle, t-shirt, all the business cards (yours and theirs) as well as your fav tech devices or even a pen and writing pad!!
  • Keep personal items closeby at all times.
    WordCamp Sydney is held in the University of Technology Sydney and part of the venue is public/student access.  We don’t want anything getting stolen or broken and making your weekend unforgettable for all the wrong reasons so please don’t leave your bags, wallet or tech unattended.  If you need to nip out to the loo or elsewhere, ask a friend or colleage to keep an eye on your stuff while you are gone or pop out to the registation desk and find a volunteer or oganiser to watch over it for a few mins.
  • Bring battery backups for tech devices.
    There are a few power sockets dotted around the venue but chances are they will be heavily used so don’t rely on being able to recharge your tech devices at the conference.
  • Read the attendee list.
    Have a look over the attendeee list to see who else is coming to WordCamp Sydney.  Chances are you may use their product, read their blog, listen to their podcast or have a common interest in craft beers or onesies.
  • Review the schedule before the conference.
    Have a good look through the conference schedule and mark down your “must” or “maybe” sessions.  Build in time for your “hallway track”, this is an unofficial opportunity to collaborate on ideas with other attendees while sessions you may not be interested in are in full swing.
  • Use Twitter.
    During the conference the #WCSyd hashtag will get very busy.  Keep an eye on it for updates, announcements and commentry from other attendees.
    Read about speakers and retweet what others post. Follow speakers so you can tag them as you mention their talks and share gratitude for their willingness to speak along with funny and helpful quotes.
  • Go to the After Party.
    It’s a great chance to unwind and chillax after a long day of listening and talking.  Talk is usually less “businessy” and more social and fun.
    You’ll find new friends and go deep in conversation (and possibly song) in a way that can’t happen between traditional sessions. It’s a time to let your hair down and enjoy being part of the WordPress community.
  • Come with Issues and Questions.
    Every WordCamp has a group of dedicated “expert” volunteers slated to help answer your needs. At WCSYD we call it the Happiness Bar and we guarantee to make you smile, even if we can’t find you a quick fix.


How Can I Make the Most Of WordCamp?

  • Arrive early to sessions.
    Plan to arrive a few minutes before a session starts and sit close to the front.  As well as making the speaker feel at ease you’ll have an easier time seeing what’s on the screen especially if the speaker is diving into code!
  • Challenge yourself.
    Go to at least one talk that is out of your comfort zone.  You may feel that your skill level is too low for a session but you may be surprised at some of the things you learn and take away to investigate later.
    Embrace track cross-over; being a dev doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy and learn from a session on business management or copywriting. The reverse is true, as well.
  • Take sparse notes.
    Remember that you’re here to have fun and enjoy the conference.  Don’t scratch down everything the speaker is saying or you’ll miss the whole essence of the talk.
    Jot down “Aha” moments and things you want to look up later.  Slides and session videos will be available later on so you can always go back and watch or review the talk.
    Write down speaker details, name, company, twitter handle etc so you can connect/follow them and ask them questions after the conference.
  • Introduce yourself.
    Turn round and say “hi” to your conference chair buddies – those people sitting next and around you. Indtroduce yourself and ask them what brought them to WordCamp.  You may end up creating a new friendship or business colleage.
  • Connect with people.
    If you’re a business card person, bring plenty along to offer others. Take plenty too.
    If you’re more an social media animal, offer to connect with people on LinkedIn and follow them on Twitter.
  • Listen out for new tools.
    Some of the speakers we have at WCSyd are seasoned WordPressers.  They’ve been doing it for a long time.  Have a listen to the types of tools, processes, software, services, pluings and other stuff they use.
    Even if one of their recommendations saves you time or money or hassle it will have been worth the investment.
  • Talk to speakers, organisers and sponors.
    Feel free to approach the speakers, organisers, and sponsors. Everyone is at the event because they love WordPress and want to share.
    They all want to help you with WordPress.
  • Don’t eat alone.
    Lunch can be an excellent opportunity to meet someone new and compare notes about what you’ve both seen and learned so far at the event. More from Chris Lema.


Share Your Experience

  • Take lots of photos & vids.
    One of the fun aspects about WordCamps is looking through all the photos and video snippets that get posted on social media.
    Share photos of you and your day, from selfies to swag! Be sure to tag the people and companies represented and share how you feel. Follow up with a blog post or capture moments of your day with a live or follow up video.
  • Express gratitude!
    People love to be thanked in social media and through the mail. Do what works for you, but remember that WordCamp Sydney has many sponsors, contributors, organizers and volunteers dedicated efforts on your behalf. Make their day by showing your appreciation.
  • Reconnect with people.
    Keep track of who you met and solidify the interaction in social media or with a phone call or email referencing how you met in the weeks to follow WordCamp.
    Things and people transition pretty fast in Australia and if too much time passes, you may be forgotten.
  • Say “Hi” to the organisers.
    It takes a lot of time and energy to pull off a successfull WordCamp.  Remember that organisers are not getting paid for doing this so tell them about your WordCamp experience; sessions you liked and new stuff you learned.
    Maybe you would like to help out at the next WordCamp Sydney or are thinking it would be neat to run one where you live.  Share your thoughts with the organisers.


Have more suggestions on making the most of your WordCamp Sydney experience? Comment below with tips and tricks you recommend.