For all of you new to ProductCamp here is a ProductCamp 101 crash course to help you get familiar with the format so you can make the most of your experience.

Proficientz has sponsored several Product Camps across the country from Silicon Valley to Manhattan and points in between like Atlanta and Austin. So we thought we’d offer an insider perspective.

We just returned from ProductCamp 2009 in Austin, Texas.

For all of you new to Product Camp here is a Product Camp 101 crash course to help you get familiar with the format so you can make the most of your experience.

First, we really like the Product Camp format. It’s a free, high energy collaborative gathering of really smart, passionate product management/marketing minded folks who discuss issues they face each and every day. Most of the time there is no opening act, although NYC there was high energy keynote speaker to kick-off the day.

Anyone can propose a session for which they will present or facilitate. Sessions and discussions are selected by the attendees at the start of the event by voting for their favorites using small stickers on a sheet of paper that displays the topic and the speaker name. If presenters get enough votes, they get to present. In Austin there were 55 sessions offered and only 35 made the cut. Presenters that don’t get enough votes are free to attend sessions and network.

You get to pick your favorites and if you don’t like the session just exercise the two foot rule get up on your two feet and leave. Nothing personal, just the way it is.

The sessions are best when highly interactive. Slideware should be kept to a minimum. No one wants to be preached or sold to at a Product Camp. In fact, one tweet in Austin said, when are these speakers gonna realize everyone in the room is smarter than they are Session formats include presentations, panels, workshops and roundtable discussions. Lectures are highly discouraged. Session topics are offered based on areas of interest of the participants. Topics range from strategy sessions and tactical product release plans to career and personal development. There is something for everyone.

Caffeine and food must be ingested on the run as sessions run each hour during the action packed Saturday (these are weekend events). Box lunches, coffee in a box and backpacks abound. There is always plenty of networking time with colleagues, job seekers, industry experts and other interesting characters all over the venue. Proficientz will continue to support these events in the future and encourage you to participate in a product camp soon. It’s an awesome energizing experience!