This past weekend I attended my first Podcamp Toronto. Billed as an “unconference”, Podcamps are an international phenomenon. They are centered around podcasting and other social media tools. The idea is to break the mould of formal conferences. Anyone who wants to speak at a Podcamp can. Admission is usually free, with sponsors covering the cost of the room.
Not knowing quite what to expect, I send a message via LinkedIn to Krishna De who is involved in Podcamp Ireland. She told me to go, have a good time and bring a recording device in case I wanted to interview anyone.
I arrived at Ryerson University (site of Toronto Podcamp 09) and realized I’ve been living in a small town too long. It never occurred to me to check which building was housing the event. I was standing on the street with my cell phone trying to get my sister to find out where I should be going when I saw two people approaching. One was carrying a stack of books with titles about podcasting. Hmmm, other Podcamp attendees.
Sure enough, they were going to Podcamp too so I walked along with them and we started talking. I introduced myself and talked about the Baby Boomer Entrepreneur. I asked what he did. “I’m a typist,” was the reply.
Typist, my ass! It was Chris Brogan, one of the world’s biggest bloggers. Of course, stupid me, I didn’t realize who he was until I walked into the event and people started asking “was that Chris Brogan you were with?”
After that auspicious start to my day, I ran into some people I know from local networking events. Getting even better.
I got hold a list of the speakers for the day. There were usually three to five events going simultaneously. Each seminar was about 30 minutes with 15 minutes in between to allow chatting and time to get to the next room. I had trouble narrowing it down but finally created a plan for my day.
I managed to fill a notebook with tips, strategies and tools from each of the sessions I attended, plus Twitter handles of all the speakers. I can’t wait to start using more of the strategies I picked up. I’ll be sharing them over the next few weeks as I find time to put them down on my blog.
But even better than the information I picked up was the people I met. I was a little worried that with a name like Podcamp I’d be the oldest person there. But no, the event wasn’t filled with teenagers. There was a wide range of people. At each session I met at least one very interesting person.
Over the course of the day I chatted with countless people, exchanged business cards and learned so much. By 5 pm on Saturday I’m certain you could see information leaking out of my ears I was so wiped. I was so exhausted I didn’t even go to the pub that night, although I should have in order to meet more people.
If you have any interest in using technology to connect with people online, I urge you to attend a Podcamp near you. You’ll not only learn about tools and techniques but you’ll make some lasting personal connections. I know I did.
In fact, I enjoyed this one so much, I’ve already made plans to attend Podcamp London (Ontario) on April 25th.
Andrea J. Stenberg
Have you ever attended a Podcamp? Leave a comment and tell us what you thought of the day.