… plus, how to survive your next conference, wherever that may be.
Alt Summit felt very different for me this year, possibly because it’s grown leaps and bounds since I first attended (with my sweet roomies Vic and Jaime) in 2010. The sheer number of inspiring creatives was nothing short of overwhelming, and I found that I participated in more 10 second, frenetic conversations this year – and much less 10 hour, life-changing conversations. And as you can probably tell, I’d pick the 10 hour convos any day.
BUT – it was still a treat to attend, to present an alarmingly brilliant sponsorship panel (pictured above) with Sarah, Danielle and Meg, throw another kickin’ resource party and teach a videoblogging class (with my sweet husband!) for HGTV. And because I’ve been pretty exhausted lately (when does that amazing second trimester energy kick in, friends?!), I slipped away for the bulk of the conference to nap, have quiet lunches and many, many meetings. And I left feeling like yes, I missed out on keynotes, panels and parties, but I took care of myself and furthered my business on the spot, rather than talking about furthering my business. You know?
In short, I feel like this was the first conference where I strategized instead of socialized. I stood up, rather than sat down. And I forged, rather than followed.
Sure, I felt really, really left out when I look back and see the photo booths, streamers and confetti, but I think that next week, when the sparkles fade, I’ll be proud of the relationships I formed and business smarts I gained. I hired an agent, negotiated a contract and committed to a new sponsorship deal – all in the span of three days. And here’s where I state my new conference rules:
1. Come with a plan. Peruse the speaker list and follow the Twitter buzz. Pick out a few choice attendees or business contacts that you’d love to connect with on a deeper level, and invite them to breakfast ahead of time. Conference schedules can be packed, so don’t rely on impromptu meetings; they rarely happen.
2. Save room for others. While I would have loved to plan every second of every day, it’s important to support others and give back to your community. This is why I love throwing impromptu resource parties (pictured below) – you get to hear about some really inspiring goals for the year, help further those goals, and make real connections that will (hopefully!) last beyond the Grand America hotel.
3. Be present. I have a hard time with this one, because I get super overwhelmed when I’m around a bajillion people that I love and want to connect with. But when having a conversation, it’s important to be present in that conversation. If you’re not good at this, arrange a conversation in a quiet place where you’re less likely to be interrupted – or less likely to people watch around the room. My best convos this year took place over a secluded breakfast spot, on a brisk walk around the block, a secluded sofa corner of the hotel and yes, the restroom.
4. Follow up. This is what’s happening now. I have a list of a few friends and colleagues that I didn’t get near enough time to chat with, so this week? This week I’m going to email them and see how they enjoyed the conference and what’s to come in their lives for 2012. Maybe even throw in a phone chat or debriefing session along the way. Because even if we didn’t get to toast champagne or break dance in a ballroom, I love them dearly.
In other words, if I missed you at the conference, let’s get in touch this week. I’d love to hear how you plan to take over the world in 2012 and beyond. Plus, chances are, I loved your shoes.
p.s. I didn’t take any photos at the conference (See! I was being present! #3!), so thanks to the AltSummit2012 Flickr group and the amazing photogs for the above shots.
p.p.s. An incredible thank you to Gabby and her Stanley family clanley. They make things happen for the benefit of all.