WCEU Torino – a first timers experience

So it seems to be the thing to do a write up after a WordCamp experience. I hope I’m not adding noise to the already great articles I’ve read out there, I thought it would be a good idea to do a small write up from a first timers perspective.

While I’ve been “in” the WordPress community for over a decade, I’ve really not been very active, or visible (classic developer mindset?).

So this all changed when I decided to attend WCEU, as a necessary part of growth on a personal level, but also on a business level – I wanted to get my name and face out there as well as my brand and while this kind of thing has traditionally been out of my comfort zone it was time to change things up a bit. I also had a great support network from my mastermind group which made things 10x easier.

Travelling to Torino

My journey started in the north of Spain, a region called Asturias. There are not too many international flights from here so I needed to catch two flights to make it to Torino with a change over at Frankfurt.

All was going well until I was about to board the connecting flight in Frankfurt. Patrick, a friend from my mastermind group had just messaged me, telling me how lucky I was that I didn’t have any issues as a lot of flights from Frankfurt had been cancelled recently.

And guess what, within 60 seconds of his message (and 5 minutes until boarding) my flight got cancelled. I know exactly who I blame for this catastrophy… ๐Ÿคจ

Fortunately a replacement flight was arranged and I managed to make it to Torino only 2 hours late, not too bad. I took a couple of pictures as we were landing at night only to discover that the one of them captured the Lingotto center perfectly – the venue hosting WCEU.

Day one / contributor day

My first full day was Thursday, aka contributor day. I had always looked forward to joining a contributor day as I’ve seen countless people talking about the positive atmosphere of them over the years, it sure sounded like a lot of fun!

Unfortunately I didn’t realise that it was a requirement to register to participate in contributor day – I had assumed that anyone who got there a day early could join in… how wrong I was!

So instead of joining the masses for what sounded like a fantastic contributor day, me and a few friends from my mastermind group decided to do a city escape tour – we downloaded an app which took us on a kind of role playing journey around the city – while I wasn’t too into the game I did enjoy going around the city and visiting some of its landmarks – my best photos were from this part of the trip.

This was also my first taste of real Italian pizza ๐Ÿ˜‹

It was really great getting to know Maarten + Ine (from Studio Wombat) and Patrick Posner (from Simply Static and Ollie WP) in real life!

Later that evening we headed over to the Freemius Makers Meet event. This was my first experience being surrounded by so many people from the industry and so many familiar faces I’d seen on Twitter over the years – it was a bit overhelming at times and I mostly opted to stay quiet rather going around making big introductions to people I’d recognised – I think I just needed to get warmed up!

After the Freemius party we headed over to the Elementor Party and managed to snap my first #MichelleAndMe! I just know there will be many more of these to come! (Please ignore the typo, it was the beer I promise).

I also managed to meet the people behind Dynamic.ooo – Giovanni and his awesome team. I’ve collaborated with them for several years now bringing Search & Filter to some of their Elementor widgets so it was good to chat about whats coming next in Search & Filter version 3 and what they’ve got coming up (๐Ÿ”ฅ).

Piero and I at the Dynamic.ooo booth.

It really is great to get to meet the people you’ve been talking and working with virtually for years!

Day two

So this was the first proper day of the conference. I didn’t really know what to expect, for the most part my plan was to go around and check out the various sponsor booths and dip into a few talks or workshops.

With my Search & Filter plugin, we have a lot of integrations with other plugins which made it easy to go upto many booths and start chatting – it was really cool to meet the people behind the plugins and get some useful contacts in those businesses.

I’ve tried reaching out to some of our integration partners in the past, and often you might not get introduced to the right people at the right time. The sponsorship booths helped me cut the line and make direct connections with the people I need to be in contact with – this really was one of the biggest benefits of the whole experience for me.

Again I have to tip my hat to my friends from the mastermind group, whenever I got tired or a little bored, I could always return the to the Studio Wombat booth to find familiar (and friendly) faces. We spent so much time there I was made an honarary member.

Patrick and I at the Studio Wombat booth, wearing honarary Studio Wombat shirts.

Later that evening I went for a meal where I sampled some more amazing fresh pasta, followed by the WooCommerce event just around the corner. This was probably one of my favourite, larger, events – the music wasn’t too loud so you could chat and everyone was having a great time.

Pasta in Italy - Alla Norma

I also managed to finally meet one of my oldest customers – Brian and his amazing team from digicube. They’re not only one of my longest customers, I actually hired them to build the new Search & Filter website (yet to be released). It was so nice to meet them in person, all round good vibes.

The team from Digicube - Brian, Makedonka, Artan, Bone and Alessa

I finished the night over in the next building for the Yoast PRIDE party – I didn’t stay too long as I was very aware of my need wake up early the next day and be in good form.

Day three

The final day of the conference – that was quick! For the most part it was much the same as the day before, walking around meeting and greeting people, suprisingly there were still plenty of people I hadn’t yet connected with.

I also managed to catch the talk from Katie Keith + Matt Cromwell (who co-host WP Product Talk) which was great despite a fair few technical issues!

In the evening I had the privilege of being invited to a small WooCommerce dinner. This was one of the highlights of the trip for me, we got speak to some of the team directly who were very candid and open to all kinds of conversations and questions.

A large part of the userbase of Search & Filter are of course WooCommerce users, so it was super insightful to hear about what’s coming next and to be honest, to see the team so open to receiving feedback and being willing to engage with the community was a real confidence booster.

Thanks to James Kemp and Darren Ethier for inviting me and setting this up!

Following the dinner we headed straight to the official party back in the Lingotto Center. It was a nice space where people could let their hair down and unwind.

WCEU after party with Patrick, Maarten and myself

But I’m very picky about music, so I mostly enjoyed the conversations outside!

Notable introductions

There are some people in the WordPress space we all know and love, and while I may not have spent much time with them it was really great to meet them in person, finally. In no particular order:

Mastermind

As I mentioned a few times already, the experience wouldn’t have been the same without the support from my mastermind group – Maarten, Ine and Patrick! I particularly like this photo of us all (and the clear shot of the Search & Filter logo is just a bonus!):

Selfie while out on the streets of Torino - left to right is myself, Maarten, Ine and Patrick

Note: If you’re a product maker and not part of a mastermind, I encourage to start your own or find one! The advice and moral support I’ve been getting from them has been invaluable – I guess I hope I’m returning some of that back to them too.

Summary

All in all it has been an incredible experience, I loved the city of Torino and the events in and around the conference have been fantastic.

I really couldn’t have had a better experience from my first attendance at a WordCamp, I’m grateful to everyone who welcomed me and made the experience what it was.

Some tips from a first timer:

  • It really helps if you already know some people who are going, for me this was my mastermind group – its always nice to know you have somewhere to return after you run out of steam from so many conversations.
  • Be open to talking to anyone and everyone, without an agenda.
  • Extend your trip by a day or two on either side – I learnt my lesson this time, I wish I could have experienced a little more of Torino.
  • Make sure you follow the lists of events (wherever they’re posted) and sign up to them EARLY, especially contributor day (!).
  • Try not to eat more than one pizza per day ๐Ÿ˜…

If you’ve also written a summary post, I’d like to read it, so send it my way!


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