Tips from WordCamp Birmingham
by Kathryn C Lang
Building a solid foundation of success requires more than the right place or the right people, but it demands the right investment of engagement from you.
I attended WordCamp Birmingham in 2013. It was not my first conference, although it was my first WordCamp experience. I took notes – LOTS of notes. I don’t remember much other than that.
I went back to WordCamp Birmingham in 2014, this time as a speaker. Again, I came away with a lot of challenges and a lot of actionable ideas.
I returned as a speaker to WordCamp Birmingham in 2016, this time a little more determined and a little more invested. I made a point to talk with others. I missed out on a few sessions so that I could sit with other attendees and speakers and share experiences and ideas. I invested in engagement. I still came away with a lot of tips and ideas, but I also set some foundations for future relationships.
This year, I stepped up to help organize WordCamp Birmingham 2017. Although I often felt like a pretender, I did what I could do. I was willing and willingness goes a long ways with WordCamp folks! I came away this year with many stories of fun, laughter, and relationships.
WordCamp Birmingham did not change – although it did move to a different location this year. Instead, my attitude and focus changed.
What I Thought
I used to attend conferences with the expectation that someone at the event would have my “easy button.” Someone would have that bit of information that would drive me on to the next level. Someone would have that one opportunity that would propel me to my desired success. Someone would have just what I needed to complete my puzzle.
I stayed focused on getting all I could get or learning all I could learn.
It was definitely an “I” focused experience.
What I Changed
Despite knowing, writing about, and even teaching (at WordCamp Birmingham one year no less), it is ALL about relationships, I still fell into the trap of wanting what I wanted. I wanted someone to give me a great writing gig. I wanted someone to offer me the perfect job that would let me stay at home with the kids and still make enough money to cover all the bills and then some. I wanted!
Posted on top of my computer are these two keys to marketing:
- Create lasting connections with people.
- Focus on being relentlessly helpful.
I determined that if nothing else occurred, I would come away with lasting connections with people – not with companies, organizations, or opportunities.
By turning my focus to the people and to engaging with those people, my whole WordCamp experience changed.
What I Learned at WordCamp Birmingham
One of the best reminders I got the whole weekend came from Phylecia Jones. She shared tips on budgeting – which every person, business, freelancer, or entrepreneur needs to know. It was during an “after session” discussion that her point hit home. She was talking with Gordon Seirup and myself about submitting talks for an upcoming romance writers conference. “What will you be pitching?” I wanted to get some ideas from her. Her response was simple and on point. “I’ll pitch budgeting.”
Phylecia reminded me to hone in on my message with precision!
I laughed a lot during WordCamp Birmingham 2017. B.J. Keeton – another one of the organizers for this year’s WC – was definitely part of the reason I laughed so much. He engaged so easily and didn’t try to be “professional.” His enthusiasm for the moment caught on to anyone that came near him.
B.J. Keeton reminded me to enjoy the moment!
I have a confession to make. Even though I have spoken at WordCamp Birmingham in the past, and even though I have spoken at other conferences, and even though I was on the organizational team for this years WordCamp Birmingham, I still find myself looking at other speakers and organizers in AWE. He must really be something or she must really be amazing – that’s why they are where they are.
Every time the organizational team gathered, I felt like the only one that didn’t deserve to be in that position. Not a single one of the others made me feel that way. Instead, it was an impression that I took into the meeting with me – or at least it was how I started attending the meetings. By the end, I felt like I was part of their family and they were part of mine.
Which leads me to the other things that I learned from WordCamp Birmingham 2017.
- I met Kathy Drewien briefly at the 2016 conference. She was a delight and full of energy. This year I had several opportunities to chat with her. The one thing that stood out to me was her desire to help others. You could see it when she was talking in a group or when she was meeting with folks in the Happiness Bar. Her passion for helping poured out around her – and it poured over me.
Kathy Drewien reinforced the understanding that I need to put you first . . . and the rest will work itself out.
I joined the organizational team with a bit of hesitation. I knew that I couldn’t make a weekly trip to Birmingham for in-person meetings and I didn’t feel like I had the “expertise” to contribute very much. Brian DiChiara, Nathan Ingram, B.J. Keeton, Ryan Marks, and Weezie Boils all made me welcomed. I not only felt like part of the team I felt like an active contributor.
The Organizers for WordCamp Birmingham 2017 showed me that we all have something worth contributing and we all have more that we can learn.
No matter where you are in your journey, you have something to offer an something to learn. No matter where your path may be leading you, you need to find a way to enjoy the journey. No matter what you are doing, you need to be doing for others. And no matter what your industry, you need to hone your focus.
Keep learning. Keep growing. Keep investing. If you will, then you can!
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About the Author
Hopesmith. Dream inspirer. Master of “it’s all about relationships.” Aficionado of inappropriate laughter, Kathryn Lang has been helping others find the time to make their dreams come true. As wordsmith, master multi-tasker, and encourager extraordinaire, Kathryn knows you have a unique purpose and a designed path and she believes that if you discover that unique purpose you will find the way to walk the path with boldness.
Connect with Kathryn by visiting her website where you can sign up for her email, invite her to speak at your next event, or join the conversation on social media.