Ive really enjoyed these days. The best part of them is that you know everyone there is as excited as you are about development, they are hungry to learn and want to talk about it. Youll find its very easy to make good friends. I go to as many as I can and if you see me at one please come say hi, Ill talk your ear off.
Bar camps are fun as they are known as the unconference. The talks arent planned, they are impromptu and random. They are about anything from DOM manipulation to drink recipes. They are a lot of fun; you meet interesting people, and learn fun things. Usually they are 1-2 days long.
The thing to know when you are going to these events is that some people will be there with people, while many (like you) will be alone. The trick is finding those people, building up some courage, and going up and saying hello.
Seriously, it sounds terrifying, and believe me it is. However, youll find it goes easier as it goes on and you meet some amazing, unique, and interesting people. I wouldnt trade those experiences for the world.
And I mean RANDOM. There are all kinds of things out there. There are wine tasters, there are horse lovers, there are even little bands of knitters. These groups meet online at places like MeetUp or Caigslist.
I have gone and done some very cool things, everything from hack at a laptops and six-packs party to sing karaoke on the street and usually with total strangers! Once you realize that there's no reason why people who enjoy the same things shouldnt enjoy doing them together it seems completely normal.
The most terrifying part is always when you are by yourself and you first approach an existing group. I have a few secrets. The first is, scout your territory. Go check it out before you actually attend, see what its like so that when you actually do show up youre 100% prepared. Second, BRING FOOD. Seriously, a normal person is 500% more interesting when they have goodies. If you are nervous a plate of cookies, or some beer, or even some store bought dessert is a great way to distract folks from seeing how you feel.
Here are some socializeing tips every geek should know from the beginning:
Remember names. I'm very bad at this; it has bit me in the past. Maybe a Mnemonic device?
Understand that everyone there has felt as weird as you do right now at some point. They will empathize.
Exchange contact information! At all times! Let people get in touch with you, they will want to!
Never take anything personally. It takes all kinds of people at these events; some of them will be kind, some rude, some friendly, and some standoffish. If you go in with an open mind that anything can happen, you wont be disappointed.