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Tips for attending a programmer conference if you are an introvert

Recorded – watch the full episode on YouTube.

Many folks like the idea of a conference and they're thinking of going but they are shy – maybe they don't know what they'll do, or they are not going with anybody. What advice do you have folks in that situation?

Carola Nitz: Well, go try it out at least. I know it can be hard: you have to travel, you have to take maybe some days off from work as well. But for me it's always been worth it because you meet so many people who work on the same stuff as you – you get to actually talk to people that you only know from Twitter sometimes and you get so inspired and you just build your network and you will likely meet somebody who can help you with your problems later on. So I’ve built so many great connections and I've found personally so many friends through conferences – it just widens your horizons.

"I know it can be hard: you have to travel, you have to take maybe some days off from work as well. But for me it's always been worth it because you meet so many people who work on the same stuff as you."

Paul Hudson: I also hope that folks are using this chance to go to virtual conferences, because that gives you the chance to get a feel of what they are like without that extra scare factor of leaving your home and going to Switzerland or Paris or wherever it is you want to go for your event. App Builders happened, UIKonf happened, I'm doing my own Hacking with Swift Live in a month or so and you can go there. So you can have a bit of social contact, and a bit of experience with an event, without all the scariness behind it – it’s really nice.

Carola Nitz: And you can always stay in the background as well, right? You don't need to be the one who's like going up to the speaker after a talk, you can just stand next to them and listen in, and the same with virtual conferences as well. You can just look at what other people are saying in the chats.

Paul Hudson: Manuel Carrasco Molina has an interesting point here. He's saying, “if you ask me online or remote is the future." Now obviously Apple’s WWDC was in-person every single year until last month when it went online. Did it work out better for you? Would you consider remote again next year or are you keen to move back to an in-person event?

"I wouldn’t want to have an online-only event because I really like having everybody in one space and having experiences together."

Carola Nitz: We're doing a hybrid version next year because we realized actually having it remote opened it up to more people because you need to travel otherwise and not everybody has the option to travel. So that is definitely an aspect that we really liked. I wouldn’t want to have an online-only event because I really like having everybody in one space and having experiences together. Going to a nice restaurant with people and getting to know them in person and just having a chat over coffee… I would miss those things.

Paul Hudson: I know what you mean. I get that obviously online is cheaper to organize because there are no flights to pay, no hotels to pay, no lunches to make, and similar, but the experience of being there, having random interactions with people you sort of walk by and say, “I read that blog post by you, or I heard you on a podcast and really enjoyed what you were saying." It just gives you an entry point to meet folks who otherwise you wouldn't have met. I think it's called the hallway track, right? That becomes as important as the main session tracks because those random encounters, the chance to meet someone you hadn't met before and get a fresh idea or see their code or get inspired by their work is just invaluable.

"The social events are important, but I don't think you need to necessarily spend a lot of money on something just to have a great network with people and a good time."

And one thing that I think is interesting in our industry – particularly because, let's face it, to be an iOS developer you've already bought a MacBook Pro, you've bought an iPhone, etc, so the barrier to entry is very high – what I then find interesting is that we spend quite a lot of money sometimes on social events; going out on a boat dinner party or something like that. I get it: people want to do fun things. But we're already quite privileged as a community in that we are already extraordinarily wealthy as a group compared to many other types of developers. How important are those social events and do you think really the money matters there or not?

Carola Nitz: I mean the money shouldn't matter, but I notice it's tough for people who don't have the financial means. You can get a used MacBook or used iPhone to start off, but with those conferences there are plenty of diversity tickets so make use of that. The social events are important but I don't think you need to necessarily spend a lot of money on something just to have a great network with people and a good time.

This transcript was recorded as part of Swiftly Speaking. You can watch the full original episode on YouTube, or subscribe to the audio version on Apple Podcasts.

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