In this episode, Michelle Frechette, Director of Community Relations at Post Status, talks with Patrick Posner, Founder and Developer at Simply Static, about the importance of being open and approachable, creating opportunities for others to join conversations, and making space for new connections. They discuss various strategies for networking, such as using tools like Calendly to schedule meetings, attending parties and social events, and stepping out of comfort zones to engage with new people.
Mentioned in the show:
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- Patrick Posner (Founder and Developer, Simply Static)
- Michelle Frechette ( Director of Community Relations, Post Status)
- Olivia Bisset (Intern, Post Status)
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Michelle Frechette (00:00:03) – I’m Michelle Frechette here with post status. And today it’s my pleasure to interview Patrick Posner, who is a WordPress developer with simply static. In in regards to his experiences with WordCamp Europe as a first time speaker. As somebody who’s networking and somebody who was integral into how things were going with his company and everything over at WordCamp Europe. So WordCamp Europe this year was in Athens, 2023 was in Athens, Greece. Beautiful location. Did you enjoy it, Patrick? Did you enjoy the experience overall?
Patrick Posner (00:00:40) – Yeah. So first of all, thanks for having me, Michelle. I’m glad to be here. And yeah, I mean, Athens was great. It was like my second WordCamp Europe. The last one was in Berlin, I think it was 2 or 3 years ago. We had this little Covid thingy, so it might be a little bit longer. And yeah, it was absolutely awesome. So from the location to the people around around the area and even the locals, everyone was just way too friendly.
Patrick Posner (00:01:14) – And it was we had good weather, we had a nice chat, we had everything that I had hoped for.
Michelle Frechette (00:01:22) – We do have to acknowledge, though, that the drivers in Athens, Greece are absolutely crazy and how they drive on the roads. Yeah, yeah.
Patrick Posner (00:01:32) – It’s like I mean, I was already familiar with that because of my vacation last year in Italy. So Greece and Italy have a pretty similar way to drive their cars and it almost feels like limit speed limits aren’t existing in Greece at all. So.
Michelle Frechette (00:01:55) – Exactly. And also stop signs and traffic lights and everything in between.
Patrick Posner (00:02:00) – It’s also like there’s no volume limit. Germany, we have like a volume limit, so a maximum amount of volume your car or your motorcycle is allowed to produce when driving. And so that doesn’t seem to be the case in Greece. So at least there is like a little Motorola that sounds like a Harley and it’s perfectly fine for everyone there.
Michelle Frechette (00:02:23) – Yeah, it was it was a little daunting. And we had rented a car.
Michelle Frechette (00:02:28) – My daughter was driving us and there was more than one time where we finally got to our destination and she was crying because she was so stressed. Yeah. And the anxiety was crazy. So my suggestion is Uber as often as possible because in a car with somebody who drives there regularly, you have a much better chance of not having that anxiety. But yeah, so that was, that was for me the, you know, if you, if you could say there was a worst part, the worst part was the fear of driving on the road, but everything else was just wonderful. So how were your experiences at WordCamp itself?
Patrick Posner (00:03:02) – So I arrived a little bit late. I wanted to take time to get to the contributor day, but our flight was rescheduled, so we just arrived in the pretty late evening on Thursday. So sadly I missed that and I also missed the speaker dinner on Thursday. So my first official day was Friday and, sure. I mean, it was great, but it was also like.
Patrick Posner (00:03:29) – A little bit exhausting. So, I mean, I think it depends a lot on what you usually do for business. But as a developer, we are not like hyper social. And I got in contact with like 20 different people within my first hour arriving, which was like it was fun and the people are all great, but it’s like it’s kind of exhausting.
Michelle Frechette (00:03:54) – Absolutely. And and you spoke at you were one of the speakers this year at work as well.
Patrick Posner (00:03:59) – Yeah. So I submitted my talk and I honestly, I hadn’t really thought about it. Um, I’d never expected to be like, Yeah, you’re allowed to speak at WordCamp this year. So it was more like, Yeah. So I submit my talk and we see what happens and I got the confirmation and it was like, okay, for real. So I will be speaking at WordComp Europe and yeah, had my talk on Friday and my session on Friday and it was like. I mean, the talk went great.
Patrick Posner (00:04:33) – It was a wonderful experience and I highly recommend it to everyone who’s like 1 to 1 to share their knowledge with other people from the WordPress community. But I was also scared like hell. So it was like an hour before the before the presentation, I was like, okay, where’s the emergency exit? And will people notice that I’m running away? I’m doing it right now. That was kind of scary. So but then you get like a speaker assistant and that was actually the best experience for me at what computer because my, my speaker assistant was such a nice guy. He was so calm and he was so you get this, it’s not that hard. A lot of people doing it and you can do it as well. And that’s what like was everything I needed to, like, calm down and get a little bit more confident about the things I like to share with the people at the world camp. And yeah, it was like a wonderful experience for me once it was done, but before it was like, okay, calm down, calm down.
Patrick Posner (00:05:45) – You got this.
Michelle Frechette (00:05:47) – What you don’t know is those speaker assistants are actually there to make sure that you don’t run out the exit. Yeah.
Patrick Posner (00:05:53) – That was. Well, that was what I was thinking at first.
Michelle Frechette (00:05:58) – Tell us a little bit about your topic that you presented.
Patrick Posner (00:06:02) – Um, my session was about static WordPress. And the basic idea behind my session was to clarify that this whole topic of static WordPress isn’t something only developers can do or nerds can do, and it’s basically a thing that is a pretty good approach to handle WordPress without the maintenance aspect attached to it. So you don’t have to like update regulars. You can freeze your website in time and just host it on a static hosting provider. Um, and made sure that it’s not like. Um, that it’s like for the average WordPress user so you don’t have to know WordPress Pretty. Pretty good. You don’t need any technical knowledge. You just have to like get familiar with the idea of that. You have like a separated backend and front end.
Patrick Posner (00:06:58) – So what your actual website is. And yeah, I’ll share a couple of little quick ones, like how you can make search work or how forms can work on a static website combined with the topic about like how, how do you get even your WordPress website into a static one.
Michelle Frechette (00:07:17) – So sure. And and just for anybody who does it now, if you’re working on a if you’re using a static website, what is like what are two primary reasons why you would want to. What are the benefits of working with that?
Patrick Posner (00:07:33) – Yeah. So one, for me, it’s not the most important one, but I know people care a lot about performance, so performance is the most obvious point of running a static website. They are usually pretty fast, even faster than like combined with a caching setup. Um. Yeah. So you get a lot of performance out of the box without too much thought into like your site structure and things like that. Um, another important point, and it’s for me, it’s the most important one is security.
Patrick Posner (00:08:06) – So by separating your front end and your back end, so your back end is like protected or it’s even only running on your local machine. You get a lot of security benefits. So there’s no real attack vector to exploit for hackers, even if you’re not updating your WordPress website every week, every month whatsoever. Um, and another point, it’s kind of going hand in hand with security is maintenance. So yes, due to the fact that you separate your, your static websites or your front end website and the back end, you don’t have to keep up with all the updates and you don’t have to double check each time there’s an update that everything is still working.
Michelle Frechette (00:08:47) – Sure. So it does make it a lot easier for maintenance then I can I can absolutely see how that would be true. Yeah, that’s great. So and hopefully very soon all of these talks will be available on WordPress TV. So if anybody’s interested in learning more, they can absolutely look at your your talk there. But are you also on social media anywhere? So if anybody has any questions, could they reach out to you on Twitter or Mastodon or something?
Patrick Posner (00:09:12) – Sure.
Patrick Posner (00:09:12) – So there is actually there is a recap post on my website where I also embedded the live stream at the exact same point. My, um, my talk started so you can click on the button and you can follow along everything I’ve shared with the community at WordCamp. And if you want to follow me, I’m pretty active on Twitter. It’s Patrick Posner now underscore because Patrick Posner was I don’t know took the handle but there isn’t even a profile attached. But we all know how Twitter works these days. So. Absolutely. So Twitter’s pretty much the best point to reach out. If you have like more of a technical question, you can always reach out at hello at simplystatic.com. Um, I try to I try to follow up to everyone and share all my knowledge and I also produce like tons of tutorials and videos and all of that all things about static WordPress. So if you have any questions, feel free to reach out.
Michelle Frechette (00:10:12) – And that blog post you mentioned is also at simplystatic.com. Yeah.
Michelle Frechette (00:10:17) – Awesome. We’ll get the links up.
Patrick Posner (00:10:18) – Presentation and also a little write up how it was for me to be on a on a such a big WordCamp. And so people I’ve met and the parties I’ve attended and things I um, I checked an offering regarding sightseeing so there wasn’t that much time for me, but at least I had some time to explore the city and get a little bit of sightseeing done.
Michelle Frechette (00:10:45) – And speaking of the parties and the people you met, how do you find WordCamps as far as you mentioned, that sometimes developers are more introverted and less likely to you know, get out of their developer shell kind of thing. So how do you find WordPress events like WordCamps, especially big events like WordCamp Europe? How do you find that for networking and connecting with others? What is the secret for being a developer and networking at events like that?
Patrick Posner (00:11:15) – That’s a pretty good question. So I would say attendance are completely different if we weren’t going to talk about a WordCamp. So I think the experience would differ a lot if we would talk about a general big tech conference.
Patrick Posner (00:11:30) – That was for me, that would be like the worst nightmare ever happen. But on a WordCamp it’s more like hanging around with a lot of friends. Even if you don’t know them. People are so open and so, um, it’s so easy to get in contact and have a chat with everyone you run into. And it’s not like this usual business networking thing where you’re like. I don’t know. I do. No, no, no. For company A and I do. No, no, no. For company B, it’s more like, hey, what you’re up to are you’re building plugins or you’re building a theme or you’re having an agency or you do like, I don’t know, educating people about accessibility. There are so many different and awesome people in this community that you will automatically learn like tons of things in a pretty short amount of time. So I think networking is pretty easy. Um, if I so if we talk about like the secrets, I would say be open, smile, smile, smiling helps a lot, right? So if you look like a grumpy cat, you’re probably having a hard time getting in contact with a lot of people.
Patrick Posner (00:12:47) – But if you are open and smiling and you’re open to conversations that are maybe not even centered around what you do, so then you will have a great time at WordCamp.
Michelle Frechette (00:13:01) – Absolutely. On the wall behind you. For anybody who’s listening and not watching, you have Pacman. And we often talk about that Pacman concept of if you’re in a circle of people keeping it open so that other people can join you and make it easier for people to meet and network that way as well. So I love that you have that example right there on the wall behind you. I attended WordCamp Montclair in Montclair, New Jersey this past weekend, much smaller WordCamp than WordCamp Europe. About 100 people, I think were there. But I, I never feel like I can’t just come up to people and start talking to them because like you said, it’s very open. Um, people are leaving space for others to join the conversation. If people need to have a one on one, they tend to go someplace else quiet to do that so that you always know that you can kind of join the conversation in process.
Michelle Frechette (00:13:55) – If there’s groups of people, which I think is great at this, at WordCamp Europe, I did something for the first time that I haven’t done before, which is open up my calendar to actually have scheduled to give the opportunity for people to schedule appointments to talk to me. And it felt a little strange to do that. So like in Europe, I mean, in Asia, I didn’t do that. I just kind of like go with the flow and talk to people as they come. But this, this time I was able to open up my calendar. And you took advantage of that to schedule some time and we got to know each other. We tried to record this podcast there, but the noise level was too, too high. And this is actually probably a little bit easier for people to listen to us today anyway. But it gave me the opportunity to meet you one on one, and I’d only known you through Twitter before. So if you are somebody who might want to meet people and give that opportunity, you could even open up a Calendly.
Michelle Frechette (00:14:48) – I used my calendly to schedule half hour appointments and I think I met with 14 different people over two days of WordCamp, which gave me an opportunity to kind of stay put in one spot, meet people that wanted to pick my brain or talk to me or, you know, whatever it was that like lots of people wanted to talk to me about how to get more involved in the community with their companies and things like that. And some people wanted to talk about StellarWP and how could they work with some of our products and things. So it was really useful to me to be able to do that. It might feel a little daunting for some people to do that, but I think it’s also another opportunity to do some one on one or or small group networking also. So there’s lots of ways.
Patrick Posner (00:15:28) – I think it makes it a lot easier, if you like, have, um, let’s say you have like a specific list of people you want to talk with and there are like celebrities in some kind, so it’s way harder to just walk by and ask them, Hey, do we have like 20 minutes for a little coffee chat? And I think these Calendly links are like scheduling before the actual event.
Patrick Posner (00:15:56) – Um, can help a lot with that so that you have the time to meet the people you absolutely want to meet at a WordCamp. Um, knowing that you have already set like a specific time slot, a specific place like our little coffee bar, it’s a WordCamp Europe venue. Um, so I think that’s also a pretty valid approach to, to network without the stress of actually reaching out to people in person and try to fit in in some way.
Michelle Frechette (00:16:30) – Yeah, I agree. And it made it much more organized for me, although it did keep me from doing other things that, that I might want to do. Like I didn’t get to see as many of the talks. I didn’t get as much swag this year because I wasn’t, you know, going from booth to booth and that kind of thing. But it was a much richer experience for me to be able to meet people like you and others, you know, from Asia and Europe that I don’t have an opportunity to cross paths with as often being over here in the US.
Michelle Frechette (00:16:57) – So yeah, so I think. Whatever works for you, it’s great. I often talk about sitting down to lunch by myself with it at a table and letting other people just kind of filter in and say, Oh, is this is this seat taken? As opposed to seeking out people that I get to talk to all the time or walking up to a table that has only a few seats open and saying, may I join you so that I can learn and meet, learn about more people, meet more people, and make more friends in WordPress. Because my friends that I see all the time or that I talk to all the time, I don’t need to interact with them At WordCamp. It’s more it’s a better opportunity for me to meet new people or people like yourself who I only know through Twitter to be able to sit down and have those opportunities. So lots of different ways that you can network at WordCamp. And and the one thing I do tell people all the time is if you are truly introverted and any of this is still overwhelming to you, find an extroverted friend that will let you tag along with them throughout the day and they will introduce you to everybody that they talk to and will help you have a more a better experience so that you’re not feeling like you have to intrude on a conversations.
Michelle Frechette (00:18:05) – You let your extroverted friend do that for you and kind of tag along with them. And I’ve done that with people as well as had people like just come with me to a WordCamp, hang out with me and suddenly they’re making new friends as well. So there’s lots of ways to interact and network at WordCamps that I just love that.
Patrick Posner (00:18:22) – Now think it’s a pretty good advice. Um, but always remember folks from the WordPress community, you are like in a pretty big group, but there are the chances are pretty high that the other persons around are also introverts. So. That might make it a little bit easier. If you think about like the person next to you might be an introvert as well. So yeah, starting a little chat is as hard for him or her as it is for you. So don’t be shy, try it out. It’s really a rewarding, rewarding experience getting in touch with people from the community.
Michelle Frechette (00:18:59) – And go to the parties. Right.
Patrick Posner (00:19:00) – And go, Yeah, I mean, the party was a little bit the the official after party was a little bit problematic.
Patrick Posner (00:19:09) – Yeah, it was pretty loud and it was like a pretty small space for like a lot of people from the community. Yeah, but usually that’s also a good place to like get in contact with folks and have a nice chat. And yeah, I mean, there are so many ways to get in contact with people around to welcome. I mean, there were like, I don’t even know how many like Afterparties took took place before the actual WordCamp status or it was like an Elementor party on Wednesday also. So there’s. A lot of places where you can get in contact with people and catch up with people you already know. But just make sure to to not like. What you’ve said with like building an open circle so people can join your discussion and not like being. Hanging out with all the people you already know. There are a lot of awesome people you might not know and you want to want to get know, get to know them. And so the chances are bigger if you are open to to meet up with new people.
Michelle Frechette (00:20:21) – That’s right. Expand your circle of friends and and your networking and acquaintances. Absolutely. Any final thoughts that you’d like to share about what you’re doing with WordPress, about events, about networking, anything? All of the above. What else would you like to share with us before we sign off?
Patrick Posner (00:20:40) – I would say I’m already a little bit, I mean. Yeah. I’m looking forward to WordCamp next year. So we. I’m sure we have we will have a lot we have learned a lot from WordCamp Athens now that we might make better in the next version of WordCamp Europe. Um there are a lot of other pretty big I mean WordCamp US is just around the corner. So yeah. Um, so there are a lot of ways. And one thing, um, especially due to the fact that there was a WordCamp, this was it this week or last week.
Michelle Frechette (00:21:19) – Montclair It was this past Saturday, yeah.
Patrick Posner (00:21:22) – Yeah, yeah. So if it’s too scary to like attend a big WordCamp at your, it’s your first experience in all things.
Patrick Posner (00:21:31) – What can, what can communities or WordPress community. I’d suggest just participating in a smaller one and getting a little bit into how it feels to be at a WordCamp and how to connect with people and maybe even volunteering. So that’s also, I mean, a better way to get in contact with other folks. Uh, I don’t know if there’s a better way to connect with folks from the community. Um.
Michelle Frechette (00:21:59) – Yeah, just I mean, there’s, there’s all the ways, right. And yeah, definitely. And, and just as an added note, the call for organizers is already open for WordCamp Europe 2024. So if that’s something that you’d like to get involved in, um, if you’re listening to this and that’s something that interests you, the call for organizers is open. Call for volunteers usually comes much later as well as the call for speakers. But they are absolutely starting to organize. It’s a big, big process that it takes a full year. So if you have any interest in doing that, check out the WordCamp Europe website.
Michelle Frechette (00:22:31) – Patrick, thank you so much for sharing. Thank you for sharing.
Patrick Posner (00:22:34) – Yeah, thanks for having me.
Michelle Frechette (00:22:35) – Absolutely. We’ll put your contact information in the show notes. So if people want to read that blog or contact you on Twitter, they can do that. But it’s been a pleasure to have you and I appreciate you taking the time a second time to come and talk with me. Thank you so much for being here.
Patrick Posner (00:22:48) – Thank you very much. Thank you very much. Have a great day.
Michelle Frechette (00:22:51) – You, too. Thank you.
Patrick Posner (00:22:53) – Bye bye.