It’s almost here. BarCamp, 2011. Maybe you’ve attended either PodCamp or BarCamp before. If so, you sort of know what to expect. But even the seasoned attendee can miss a few things. That’s why I’m providing this handy-dandy day-of survival guide. I’ve been on every end of this event. Planner. Attendee. Speaker. Drinker. I learned a lot from my previous experiences and I’d like to share them with you.
1. Prep the night before –This is an all day event and it starts early. So the best way to prep is to take some time out the night before and ensure you’ve got everything you need for the day. Moleskines, laptops, cameras and camcorders are welcome. TIP: Be mindful that plugs are a hot commodity, so be sure to charge everything up ahead of time. Also, bring something to carry everything in...the rooms are on different levels and switching rooms happens fairly quickly so being light and mobile is your best bet.
2. Find Parking – Street parking isn’t free on Saturdays. So, be sure to either bring some change or plan ahead where you’re going to park. There are a number of nearby paid parking lots and garages, including one on 3rd Avenue North at Commerce Street, one under the park behind the Hilton off 4th Avenue South & the garage at the Pinnacle Building on 3rd Avenue South. Parking is also available in the side lot of Cadillac Ranch. Make sure to PAY for parking there (unless you’re into tickets and towing charges). For locations and pricing, check the interactive parking map at Park It! Downtown.
3. Get there early – Doors open at 8:00 a.m. for registration, check-in, breakfast and early networking. Walk in, grab your name badge and shirt (if you pre-registered) and then head over to the side bar for free coffee and breakfast bites. While you wipe away the crumbs, open up your schedule and map out your day of learning.
4. Be prepared to talk about yourself – A big part of BarCamp Nashville is networking, so bring business cards and make sure you’ve got your 2 minute elevator pitch down. The attendees are very diverse coming from all sortsa different backgrounds and careers. Be sure to intro folks that don’t know each other. It’s all about connections so prepare to make some!
5. Eats & Drinks – The organizational crew and volunteers work hard to keep this event free and fun. Part of the revenue that keeps this event afloat comes from the food and drinks. The crew works diligently to make sure everything goes smoothly, but participation and patience on your part goes a LONG way. So please be sure to stay for lunch. Worried about the line? Don’t…Check out Express Lunch Details and network while you munch!
6. Absorb – The sessions are amazing but they go pretty quickly. Make sure you get the map/program and learn the lay of the Cadillac land. The rooms are named and the sessions are scheduled so make sure you know where to go and get there quick so you don’t miss any techy goodness.If you decide a session isn't what you thought it was, or its not helpful to you, leave and find another. There are no rules, this is all about your learning experience, no feelings will be hurt!
7. Share – Each session has a twitter hash tag (it’s listed in the schedule) and we highly encourage you to live tweet your(constructive) thoughts. Some presenters actually use their hash tags to facilitate audience participation…so know what to tweet and how to tweet it for each session!
8. Give thanks –If you see a volunteer or crew member, give them a pat on the back…or better yet a beer…for all their hard work. These are folks that have full time jobs but took on the responsibility and time consuming tasks for the greater good.
9. Be a trooper and party – Ok sessions are over. Time to go home. Umm…NO! This is one of the best parts! The after party! Time to unwind and talk about the day with your best new pals.