Podcamp Toronto is less than a week away and I have to say I’m pretty excited about it. I’m excited about the trip there with this guy and this gal. I’m super excited about finally meeting good friends like Kathyrn and Danny and Keith and (I just found out!!!) Amber face to face. I’m excited about the wonderful sessions that are planned and about how much I’m going to learn and contribute.
I had so much fun at this event 2 years ago. It was a really special weekend for me. It was my first real foray into social media and I was a complete newbie, but thanks to the kindness and openness of extraordinary people like Mark, Chris, Bob, Chris, and Jay, I came away from the weekend with a whole new outlook on the Web, and some really amazing friends to boot.
Now here I am, two years later, and I am highly active in the new media world. (Heck, I’m even teaching the stuff now!) I have made lifelong friends with people that I may never have gotten a chance to know otherwise. I’ve had amazing opportunities to collaborate and do business with a bunch of remarkable people. Simply put, it’s been life-altering. I mean that. And I owe it all to you, the people who have been with me on this journey as I learn and experiment and expand and explore.
This year’s event is likely to have a much different dynamic than a couple of years ago. Instead of a hundred or so people, it’s now going to be at least 500. This changes the interaction some, and it’s something that I’ve been very conscious of as I’ve prepared for the event. Some people look at the larger numbers as a bad thing – it might be too crowded, I might not be able to talk to all the people I want to talk to, I might not have a chance to ask my questions…those are just a few of the rumblings I’ve heard. I have a different perspective on this. I actually think it’s a good thing that so many people are going. And I think there are some great opportunities to really make the most of it. Here’s how:
One thing about social media people…they are very social. In other words, you will be hard pressed to have a moment when you are standing in a room by yourself with nobody to talk to. If you are a shy sort, rest assured that it won’t be long before you are scooped up into a conversation with plenty of interesting people. The whole idea of this event is to get in there and get your hands dirty. And that means seeking out people to talk to, and making connections. So whatever you do, don’t stand in the corner. If you are stuck for someone to talk to, just come find me. Can’t find me? Send me a message on Twitter and I’ll find you.
The Energy of the Crowd
There’s something about a crowd of happy, engaged, excited people that is irresistible. It is nearly impossible to be in a bad mood at a Podcamp. Why? Because people are so excited to be there. And that excitement wears off on you. The energy surrounds everyone, and whether you are immersed in a session or conversing in the halls, the momentum of so many people sharing so many ideas truly energizing. Don’t plan on getting a lot of sleep – and not just because of the parties – but because your head will be spinning with all of the positive energy this event creates. It can be a little overwhelming, to be sure. But just remember to roll with it, have fun, and see where the energy takes you.
Seek Out Your Own Opportunities
Jay just posted a great article talking about food at Podcamp. This feeding ourselves thing can be tricky. Lunch and dinner are undoubtedly two of the most social times at Podcamp. This year, due to the sheer volume of people, things have to be done a bit differently. It’s just not feasible to think that we’ll be able to go out in groups of 40 or 50 to eat (nor would I want to do that). Jay’s suggestion of breaking into smaller groups of 6 or 8 seems ideal. The challenge is to still be inclusive in this scenario. Inevitably someone might get left out. That person might even be you. But if everyone takes it upon themselves to create their own opportunities to socialize in smaller groups, then that is less likely to occur. My suggestion is to use your tools, like Twitter, and your blog, to communicate your mealtime plans to people. Point them to those sources for updates and changes to the plans. But most importantly, don’t feel left out or disappointed if you don’t get to connect with the people you want to over dinner. Just find yourself another group. Who knows, maybe you’ll have even more fun! And, we’ll all see each other at the party later, anyway!
The most important thing to remember about next weekend’s event is we are all there for the same reasons – to have fun, to engage, connect, and contribute. You are going to have some amazing experiences, meet a whole whack of new people, and come away with lots of great memories and new ideas. So relax, breathe, and dive in to the experience. Enjoy each moment as it comes and we will all have a good time.
See you next weekend!