A little backstory
It was in 2013 when I first attended a Meet Magento event. It was the Meet Magento DE in Leipzig.
There were many people, many of them engaged in conversations. I knew some of these people: their names, their Twitter avatars, and the companies they worked for. But I didn't dare to talk to anyone. I didn't want to interrupt them.
As a result, I spent many sessions sitting in the emptiest row in a room filled with strangers and not talking to anyone. During the breaks, I'd roam the location, keeping myself busy with food, until I met one of my colleagues. Then I could breathe a sigh of relief.
Admittedly, it got a lot better at the after show party and on the second day. However, this first day was dreadful. It was stressful and 8 hours can be a very long time.
I would like to prevent anyone from going through this scenario. I want every attendee to enjoy the whole event - from Monday morning until Tuesday evening.
The solution: A Welcome Wagon
We (that's Andreas von Studnitz* and me, Sonja*) create a space in the morning of the first conference day where anyone who is new to Meet Magento DE can meet. The English native speakers would call this a welcome wagon.
Plus, we bring some well-known faces of the community that would love to meet new people and who enjoy helping others, for example Fabian Blechschmidt*.
The aim is to set you up with a conference buddy or two. Someone you can talk to during the day, attend sessions together. We also plan to make sure that you meet enough people early that first day, so when you walk around the hallway you can nod to people and join their conversations.
Where is this coming from?
A while ago, I saw a tweet that mentioned a Welcome Wagon at a tech conference. Welcome Wagon is an American company, founded in 1928, whose employees would visit people who recently moved into the neighbourhood. They would greet them and bring samples and flyers from local businesses. A practical help to settling into your new home.
Nowadays, they no longer make house calls but contact new residents via mail, phone, or e-mail. Welcome Wagon is now a synonym for greeting a new resident or attendee.
In my opinion, this is the missing puzzle piece in the events surrounding the Meet Magento DE.
Contacts, conference buddies and insider tips
I know it's tough to get people to interact with each other. It was a lot easier when we were all kids in kindergarten. So we will prepare a few ice breakers that will pave the way to engaging with others. Don't worry, these ice breakers will be nothing awkward - we want everyone to feel relaxed and happy. We simply provide conversation starters.
As it might be your first time in Leipzig, we are happy to help you with any questions you might have - how to get to the after show party, where to go to eat or drink, where the closest pharmacy is, and more. Our Welcome Wagon will be staffed with locals like Claudia Teubner* of Leipzig and senior Meet Magento DE attendees who are looking forward to meeting you.
You want to come to our meeting point?
We meet on the first conference day, that's the 18th of June. On this Monday morning from 9:30 to 10:00 am - during registration, before the opening session of the conference - we meet in the event location Kongresshalle. To be more precise, we meet in the lounge of the Großer Saal. The Meet Magento Association who organises Meet Magento DE thankfully supports our little gathering and they will do their share to make attendees aware of it, so you might read about it in their newsletter, too.
You want to help?
That's great! It would be a big help if you make your colleagues or connections that attend Meet Magento DE for the first time aware of the opportunity. First-timers are often not that well connected with the "usual crowd" on Twitter, Xing, etc., so it's harder for us to get the message to them in time before event.
* If you don't know any of these names, please don't worry. We will make sure to introduce us properly to you. See you in Leipzig!