Camping for Contacts

"Unconference" Brings More Than 100 People To Downtown Dallas

The word spread like wildfire on Facebook and Twitter, bringing together more than 100 job seekers Friday afternoon in Downtown Dallas for an "unconference", hosted by Opening Bell Coffee at the corner of Akard and Pacific.

"LaidOffCamp" organizer Neils Brooks says "we just basically figured that if you get all these folks together, they'll be able to offer each other something".

Greg Pinns of Dallas was laid off from his job as a R&D engineers in mid-December. "The people who are getting jobs these days are more often than not are people that are going through people who are networking."

Participants shared their expertise, from online networking to PowerPoint presentations. Others talked about ways to use Twitter. LinkedIn and Facebook to hunt for jobs.

Friday's "LaidOffCamp" also attracted some people who still have jobs, and are looking for new business through their online connections. Shelly Ellis runs her own consulting company. "Social marketing is all about conversations and meeting people and networking and its just a great way to do that", says Ellis.

But with the latest unemployment numbers for January 2009 at 7.1% in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the Texas Workforce Commission expects things will be worse before they get better. "I'm afraid that we're looking for a difficult year going forward" says Commission Chairman Tom Pauken.

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