WordCamps. If you have any ounce of geek in you, it’s hard not to become excited at the word – at the event – at the atmosphere. It was only a couple years ago that I was able to attend my first WordCamp. Since then I’ve become hooked and want to visit more all around the world. The talks are great, the attendees are great and everyone is there for the same reason.
How do we all get better at what we are doing? How do we push ourselves and help others to push themselves to that next level?
That’s a great part of WordCamps. It’s not about who’s website is better or who sells more product or who has the best new plugin. It’s about lifting each other up, giving hope when one is starting out, because – let’s face it, we’ve all been there. We all remember that first time we installed WordPress and thought, woah – now what do I do? Clicking on buttons, publishing ‘hello world’ posts to see where they went. Installing the theme that would solve all of our problems only to open up new ones we then had to figure out. I won’t even get into the world of plugins and the headaches & joy that they can cause.
While attending WordCamp US last December, I was sitting with a friend, Gary Thayer who was an organizer for WordCamp Maine. Maybe it was the free beer that was talking, but I told him that I had the WordCamp bug – that I wanted to be involved. Anything I could do to help, I was in for. He took my request seriously and brought me into the group of people who make things happen. Now I have to tell you how lucky we are in Maine. There is an Automattic office close by and a lot of great talent that works there. They are also organizers and look to help put on a great event for the community. Hiccups happened when trying to find an event location, but we were able to overcome it. After that, it seemed like everything was smooth sailing. Everyone had their tasks and everyone took them seriously. It really was a group effort where people could reach out for help and others were eager to pitch in.
Over the last two days, we had WordCamp Maine and it went off without a hitch. Everyone had their roles, everyone was in place. The volunteers showed up and helped out with everything. The speakers had their talks ready to go and did such a great job presenting them. The attendees came, asked questions and learned. It was awesome.
When I head to a WordCamp, there is really just one goal in mind for me. It’s about making 2 new friends that I did not know before. I want to walk away with new connections that I can reach out to next time I’m in town – or maybe even before then. In Orlando I met Chris & Sandy Edwards, Tom Giella and Mike Hansen. They are awesome & talented people who I’ve been able to meet up with again at the Jacksonville WordCamp & WordCamp US. At WordCamp US I met more people than I could name. Some people who have changed the way we do business and have helped us become much more successful. In Albuquerque I got to meet Nick Ortiz & Dominic Pruitt. The list goes on and on – and I hope it never stops. To me, the talks are great, but the community and relationships built are the crucial part of it.
I guess what it boils down to is that I strongly suggest you check out a WordCamp or even a WordPress Meetup near you! There are people out there going through the same struggles, having similar victories and looking to push the boundaries – just like you are. It doesn’t matter if you are just looking into WordPress for the first time, or if you are an incredibly talented coder for a Fortune 500 company. Don’t be shy – which I understand is easy to do in this industry. Overcome that fear, reach out and say hello. If you happen to see me at a WordCamp, make sure to stop me and tell me your story. It’s what I live for.