Meet Jessica, the writer and creator behind The Organized Mama. Jessica is a wife, mother to two kids and a fur baby, an organizing coach/professional organizer, exclamation-mark enthusiast, and a lover of creativity. Jessica writes at The Organized Mama which inspires "order through creativity," a blog and organizational company. Currently living in Illinois, Jessica began crafting and organizing during her kids' nap time. The blog was soon born and became an organizing business.
We're excited to have Jessica as our guest writer today!
As an introvert, I sometimes find that putting myself out there for industry conferences or retreats can seem almost paralyzing. Why would I want to put myself through so much stress and anxiety just to attend a conference? Am I actually going to gain anything from this experience?
Well, friend, I believe that an industry conference or retreat can actually benefit your business and yourself greatly!
As an introvert, there are some very important steps that you should take to get yourself prepared, which will help reduce anxiety and any additional stress you might put on yourself. I have had the wonderful experience to attend many different types of conferences and retreats in my three years of business. Some were much more beneficial than others.
For myself, I needed a small, intimate setting where I was able to truly connect with many individuals over the course of the conference. This type of setting allowed me to open up and get comfortable in my surrounds, which helped me gain the confidence to talk with people.
From these experiences, I have learned how to navigate an industry conference or retreat so that I can get the most out of my experience and use the information I gained to help grow and learn for my business.
Here are my top tips!
Get Organized /
So you are ready to attend a conference, but how do you choose with so many amazing options out there? Research! I found that for myself, I need to attend smaller conferences. As an introvert, this is a great choice for your first time at a conference. Get your feet wet by being surrounded by a small group of professionals.
I found recommendations for conferences from Facebook groups, and some of my favorite Instagrammers. Then, I would look into the conference or retreat. First thing I did was look at the number of attendees. If that was smaller, I would continue to look at speakers. If I liked what the speakers were presenting on, I look at location. Then I look at cost.
If this conference or retreat is something that has sparked my curiosity, then I start to follow all the presenters on either Facebook, Instagram, Periscope, or get on their email lists. You know, secretly stalking them via social media.
If I am still liking what the presenters are saying, I would consider investing in the conference. It’s a big jump, but knowing what and who will be presenting makes me more confident in attending.
Setting Goals For Yourself /
Now that you are signed up for the conference, I strongly suggest that you write down all the goals and wishes you hope to gain from attending the conference or retreat. Why are you attending this conference? What do you hope to learn? What do you hope to gain? Do you want to learn more on a particular topic? Do you want to network?
Once you have figured out your goals and wishes for the conference or retreat, make some actionable steps so you can actually meet those goals and wishes.
When I attended a retreat this past fall, I made a goal that I would talk with Heather Crabtree and get her opinions on a business idea I had. It was incredibly helpful for myself to have a game plan and really push myself to talk to people, rather than hide in the sidelines.
Selecting Useful Presentations /
In your goals you made for when you attend your conference or retreat, make sure you sign up for presentations that will help you meet your goals.
This is super important for you to gain as much as you can. Yes, it might be comforting to know that someone you started talking to is attending a different session, but you made goals, so make sure you stick to them!
Talking With People /
I am not one to just go and start up a conversation with random people. So, to help ease this for myself, I make sure to get an idea of who some of the people will be before I attend a conference or retreat.
Most conferences have Facebook groups. I would strongly suggest looking around the group to see who will be in attendance. Anyone with similar backgrounds as you? Anyone look like they might be good to network with? This will help eliminate some anxiety around starting up conversations with the attendees.
At every conference or retreat I have attended, I try to find an accountability partner. At a retreat I went to in the fall, my roommate became that person. We would set goals for each other to accomplish before we would come back to our room. We would problem-solve some things that we were stuck on. We would bounce ideas off of each other.
My very first conference I attended, I didn’t know anyone. So, my husband was my accountability partner. After each session, I would text him what happened and set another goal for myself. He would check in with me to see if I was able to meet that goal during the session.
It was very helpful having someone to hold me accountable, even when I didn’t know anyone who was in attendance.
Beneficial Conference Take Aways /
Keep your goals written down. I attached my goals for the conference on the inside cover of my notebook I use for conference notes. This way I can always go back and look at what I wanted to accomplish.
As you accomplish those goals, cross them off. It can be empowering while you are sitting in a session to cross off a goal you set. It might even give you some courage to do something new!
By getting yourself organized ahead of time, and setting goals for yourself, you will be able to go into the conference or retreat knowing what you hoped to accomplish.
Select presentations that align with your goals.
Talk with people whom you admire.
Find an accountability partner or buddy to keep you on track with meeting your goals.
And, finally, keep you goals handy so you can make sure you take-away as much as you possibly need to from the conference or retreat you are attending.
So get out there and make some meaningful connections while learning something new!