1 You meet nice, new people
If you’re shy don’t worry, many attendees are also the same, and someone will come over and introduce himself/herself. Whether you share the same interest or not, what’s important is that we get to interact with folks who belong to different segments of the society. Exchange cards, shake hands, add their accounts to your Facebook friend list and so on. While it says you must share something, nobody will force you to come up with topics.
2 You learn new things
I was at a session about mobile web and Eclipse Rich Client Application, two topics I have zero knowledge about but came out of the room with newly-acquired thoughts on how things work. Though chances of exploring them at the moment may not be very rosy, the fact that I attended those sessions enables me to help refer people to the speakers when someone asks me about those topics.
3 It enhances your existing knowledge
BarCamp may be where you find someone as passionate about something as you do. You can collaborate your ideas and who knows, you’ll be making a startup that’s going to make it big at NASDAQ one day!
4 You can make people aware of what you do
SEO in Hong Kong is still in its infancy I guess, but with BarCamp, I reached a new set of listeners, some of whom were quite interested about the topic I presented.
5 You get into interesting discussions
As you meet new people, you get into new interesting conversations which could lead into something interesting (read: speaking engagement offers, indirect job interviews, freelance work opportunities and maybe finding your ideal mate).
6 It drives your interest about a certain topic
One of the topics I attended discussed about user rights and how startups should act on government repressions (push for reforms or host website elsewhere?). Although I was aware of what happened to Shi Tao, I did not digest the whole story after following up on his story and its implications towards privacy laws (or the lack of it) in China.
7 You get to rub shoulders with VIPs if ever they drop by
This is also one chance to meet and greet down-to-earth executives of successful companies, share your stories with them, ask questions or get someone take your photos together. You could pick a valuable lesson or two. Interviewing them would be a very good topic to talk about in a blog. The least you can do is to pose before the purple Yahoo! logo and prove that Yahoo! exists and is visible to you even if you go offline.
8 You save a few bucks for your meal allowance
That’s because BarCamp serves free breakfast and lunch. Not to mention that cool BarCamp Hong Kong shirt given away free to all attendees! The unconference is absolutely free and does not require commitment to stay long in the sessions; I left the venue at 3pm.
9 Your face could show up in a local magazine or a popular online site
If BarCamp gets featured at Marketing Interactive or CNEt Hong Kong, with photos of participants at the front page, wouldn’t it be good if you pore over the glossy pages and find out you’re in the photo and the article correctly spelled your name?
10 You have another reason to be out of the house/skip a date/cancel watching a boring movie with your girl/boyfriend
There are no dull moments at BarCamp. My experience is that with name tags stuck on our shirts you can initiate a friendly chat with a stranger without forgetting his/her name. Although I still feel awkward trying to talk to someone without really knowing where to start, I guess this is just in the beginning. Hopefully later, we get to know more about each other and feel more comfortable talking about different things under the sun.