Fifty? One hundred? I’ve lost count of the conferences that I’ve attended over the years. Some have been professional conferences focused on re-honing skills and attaining continuing education credits. At others I’ve been a keynote speaker (yeah, really) or have presented in breakout sessions. But those conferences never hold a candle to the ones that I choose to attend just for fun.
Conferences that center around books have always been my favorite. Not only because I’m book-obsessed but because the main theme of the program centers around fun. Yes, it’s work. Especially if you’re hosting, volunteering, presenting, facilitating, etc. I don’t want to diminish the work that goes into allowing me to have “fun” at each and every one. A big “thank you” to all who make these conferences long-lasting, positive experiences.
While we are all enjoying our conferences, it’s smart to get the most out of them personally and professionally. Let’s talk about the professional side for a moment. Here’s a golden opportunity to get involved either by speaking, facilitating or helping out. In doing so, you are opening the door to career opportunities and powerful connections. The opportunity to meet others and contribute to the success of a major event can do wonders for your career.
Personally, this is the time to dream and explore what inspires you and how you’ll continue to fuel that inspiration when you return. I’ve not only used conferences to “refill my creative bucket” so to speak. I have made a few friendships that have lasted well over ten years. Hey, you’re also sitting alongside hundreds if not thousands of people who share the same interest. Talk about an opportunity to make lifelong friends, build a support group or create a community that shares a passion. These are your peeps, so please say “hello!”
Conferences are rare opportunities to escape, dream and be inspired.
But much like our heroic astronauts, we experience re-entry syndrome when we get back and may find it difficult to hold on to the “conference high.” Don’t let this happen to you. Instead, network, volunteer, interact, dream and yes, create a plan for how you can build on these connections and experiences long after the conference is over.