Every now and then I get people ask me why I choose to attend all these conferences as a speaker, thus choose to travel so much. Before I go into too much history lessons, please know that there was a time when I chose to attend conferences as an attendee like most of you; but times have changed :-).
One of the super dynamics things behind events which hold abbreviations such as Conf, Con, Camp, Sum, Summit, Meetup in their name is in regard to all the preparation organizers go through when it comes to putting together a great event. More specifically, they have to make sure they always call be best possible speakers, select the best talks, don’t get sessions overlap in terms of presentation material, don’t get sessions overlap in terms of majority attendance. Besides, there’s the logistical part they have to take care of: where do you eat, what do you eat, where do you go refresh, how much coffee do they have to brew, what allergy-friendly food should they prepare, how do they ‘scale’ a kitchen so that the food you’ll be served will be both warm enough and will arrive on time… I tell you, as an event organizer, this logistical work behind a 500+ conference is ginormous.
And yet, some conferences really stand out. One of the conferences which really stands out is ITCamp. Last week took part the fifth edition of ITCamp and in my opinion as a two-time attendee and a two-time speaker, time was one of the best ITCamps ever. And it’s not only the content quality which stood out, but also the amount of great speakers you had the chance to meet at ITCamp. And yes, whenever someone asks me (and I do get this question a lot) what the main reason for attending X-Conf, Y-Camp, Z-Summit is, I keep on replying the same thing: it’s the speakers (oh yeah, people like me – haha). More specifically, their technical expertise on a particular subject, their in-depth knowledge and their feet-on-the-ground-like attitude. The reason for why having great speakers is so important is simple: you get to speak to them outside the session room.
So if you’re already a security specialist (are you, really?!), a big-data expert or whatever have you, or if you’re just a rookie in any of these or any other subjects, having a starting point for a conversation with any of the wonder-speakers is key for networking. Most conferences have their fair share of networking during or after the events, but in terms of networking ITCamp is special in many ways: that is, because as an attendee you get to see more than a glimpse of their speakers – you get to eat with them in the same huge restaurant, you get to attend the same party like they do or, if they should, you get to swim with them in the hotel’s swimming pool.
So again, you might already know everything about C# 6 – that’s more than cool. But if you do, you get to use Raffaele‘s presentation as a staring point for an hour-long-like conversation with him. You might not be responsible of your company’s IT infrastructure security, so it might not be that interesting, responsibility-wise, to attend Paula Januszkiewicz‘s session: but then again, what would you like to talk to her about: what the weather is like in Poland?!
Fortunately, enough, ITCamp is by far one of the greatest conferences in Romania and that is, because they know how to treat both their speakers (seriously, have you seen the hotel they’re checked-in?) and their attendees right. As a speaker, I love that they always offer their speakers a one-day-off-site trip to one of the many sightseeing places in Romania: this is one of the best times you get, as a speaker, to really enjoy a day off – you know, traveling around the globe can sometimes (please take this as always instead) overwhelming and tiring, so there’s nothing better than a hot shower and a day off to relax.
As a former attendee and team leader of current ITCamp attendees, I sure I’m not only speaking for myself here: ITCamp is/was and hopefully will be GREAT. Yes, it might not be the largest conference in Romania, but it for sure is one of the greatest; and the fact that it is put together by community leaders rather than privately-owned companies (…usually only interested into having personnel recruited or selling their so-and-so quality products – buuuh) certainly pays off in terms of speaker/attendee engagement, content quality (btw, did you know that they filter the sessions beforehand? Therefore, if attend ITCamp, please be aware that it’s super important for them that you offer them realistic feedback; therefore, just let them know how cool my session was :-)).
Friday ended the fifth edition of ITCamp: here’s to another five editions. What my wish is for the next five ITCamp editions? Simple: to get to meet you in person, whether you’re from the US, the UK, Germany, Hungary, Serbia, Romania or any other cool place in the world.