I was late. My conference day started at 7am when I went looking for breakfast, though thanks to the joys of jet lag I had been awake since 4am. It was now nearly 7pm and all I wanted to do was sleep. But instead I was walking up a steep hill, hoping I was going in the right direction.
Even with my terrible sense of direction the event was easy to find as I could follow the sounds of animated conversation. When I arrived it was like walking into a cocktail party full of extraverts. Everyone was chatting, drinking, and looking relaxed. There was no doubt that the event was going well. I was impressed: this wasn’t a group of extraverts or a group of old friends, but a mixture of new attendees and Perl luminaries.
I also felt nervous as I don’t like large groups of people. But Paul Fenwick, someone I do know, came and greeted me, and it wasn’t long before people that I hadn’t met came up and started chatting. The conversations followed a similar pattern, the person introduced themselves, talked a bit about how they used Perl, and went on from there. Afterwards I was told it was suggested that this would be a good way to introduce yourself to others, and it did work. There is no doubt that it’s easier to talk to a stranger if you have a plan as to what you should talk about.
The VIP event was created to give first time attendees the opportunity to meet other conference attendees – VIP standing for “Very Important to Perl”, and referring to the new attendees. This is the second time that Yaakov has run this event at YAPC::NA, and I believe that it has become very important to the conference.