If you follow any of my social media streams you will see an almost constant flow of information about the organization of a variety of unconferences such as CareerCampLA, CareerCampSCV and now, MediaCampLA. I have come to see the unconference as a great way of tapping undiscovered, local, real-world, knowledge on almost any topic. Whether the topic at hand is free-ranging like those of the typical BarCamp or specific and narrow like CareerCamp, unconferences allow attendees to glean great information from the under-seen and under-heard right in their own community.
Over the years, I have come to see that everyone is an expert in something. Perhaps they know the secrets of running a profitable retail store or how to brew a great cup of coffee or know how many/what types of lizards live in the San Fernando Valley and where they might be found. My definition of an expert is “someone who knows one more fact, or has one more experience, than someone else.” We are all experts in something and unconferences are a great way to tease out that information and make it available to others.
Buried deep within every company, every organization, every community, are people who have great ideas, great insights and great knowledge, but often these people have no way to share their knowledge with those who need it most. Instead of sharing that knowledge and helping those around them, their knowledge sits idle and unused. If we want to innovate and grow, we need to hear and see this knowledge. Knowledge needs to be acted upon, otherwise it is worthless. The fact is, sometimes we need to go digging if we want to discover this information gold.
“I see now that facilitating this information exchange, through unconferences and in other ways, is one of my most important skills.”
I see now that facilitating this information exchange, through unconferences and in other ways, is one of my most important skills. I often say that “I am at my best when I am helping others” and organizing unconferences is one tremendous way to help others. All of my work — whether writing, computer consulting, podcasting, new media, unconferences – are all based around this premise. Sure, I don’t usually get paid directly for my organizing (although I am available to do that for your company or organization) , but I feel that I get some tremendous benefits from being in front of people and helping them with their hobbies, careers and lives.
In fact, that is yet another great advantage of unconferences. When organized properly, everyone wins! Organizers win expanded exposure of their knowledge and skills to a new group of people, readers, clients. Attendees win by gaining new knowledge and cultivating new relationship. Sponsors win by exposing their product, service or organization to a host of new, potential customers.
This is why I organize unconferences whenever I can, on whatever topics interests me most. Everybody wins in some way and buried knowledge is brought to the surface, where it can do the most good.
Want to learn more about unconferences? Want to help organize and unconference? Want to partner with CareerCamp or MediaCamp or act as a sponsor? Would you like me to give a presentation on unconferences to your organization or company? Ask your questions in the comments or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear your thoughts!