Sarah Morgan from XOSarah is gracing our blog today. Sarah was a speaker and attendee last year at VenturePOP and she was kind enough to share her experience with us along with some unexpected things that she learned:
I’m definitely the opposite of a digital nomad. I love to be at home, on my couch, working away, with my dog snoozing by my side. So until last year I’ve made zero effort to attend a conference even though there have been plenty that looked interesting and valuable.
I’ve been on lots of coffee dates with business buddies and a small mastermind retreat, but VenturePOP was my very first full-on conference experience EVER. Because I was speaking I went to VenturePOP focused more on teaching than learning, but hanging out and soaking up the hustle vibes from everyone around me has made me excited for what conferences I can attend next year. #conferenceconvert
And so I wanted to share a few things I learned to help convince you that you need to add a conference to your to-do list for 2017 too!
IT ISN’T AS SCARY AS YOU THINK
If going to a conference alone sounds even worse than when I try and convince you to do webinars I promise, it’s not. You can totally do it. Take baby steps. Book your tickets + hotel. Pack your bag. Get on the plane. Walk into the conference. Say hi to whoever you make eye contact with first.
Don’t stop yourself from going by worrying about everything all at once. Focus on the ONE thing you need to accomplish next. Remember: People that organize conferences know most of the attendees will be showing up alone. VenturePOP was SO GOOD at making sure people felt included and created ways to get everyone talking (and dancing!).
It’s perfectly OK to walk up to a group of people and jump into the conversation. Or ask a random stranger to lunch. Or invite yourself to join a group going to dinner. Everyone is there to learn from each other and they want to find out what you’re doing too.
YOU’LL MEET TONS OF PEOPLE YOU WOULDN’T HAVE COME ACROSS OTHERWISE
One of the things I LOVED about VenturePOP was that it attracted people building all kinds of businesses. Coaches, videographers, writers, dancers, non-profits, artists making tangible and digital products. Because of my work I am almost always in a bubble of bloggers and biz coaches. That’s all I see on Instagram, all I consume on Pinterest, all I talk about with collaborators. So it was a tremendous breath of fresh air to talk to a bunch of people building businesses so different from mine and thinking about it in a completely different way.
YOU’LL LEARN STUFF YOU DIDN’T EVEN REALIZE YOU NEEDED TO KNOW
You can only learn so much from reading 12 blog posts on the same topic that you dug up on Pinterest. (Yeah…I do that too.) Conference organizers are pros at gathering a well-rounded group of speakers and panelists to help get you out of your self-imposed box. During my talk at VenturePOP I asked the audience how many of them didn’t have a blog and SO MANY hands shot into the air. If those people hadn’t shown up they’d still be wandering around blog-less never reaching their full web traffic potential because Google thinks their site hasn’t been updated in 6 months and they have nothing of their own to share on Pinterest.
Being that it was my first conference I wasn’t really sure what I’d get out of the experience but even I had my own ‘holy shit’ moment which may solve a big business dilemma I’ve been challenged with for the past couple of years.
I realize attending a conference is an investment and it may take you REALLY far outside your comfort zone, but if you’re dedicated to growing something brilliant online it will be well worth your time and money to seek inspiration and information OFFLINE. You’ll walk away motivated, excited, with lots of new ideas and a bunch of friends you wouldn’t have met otherwise. (Plus it’s a fantastic excuse to visit somewhere awesome!)
Make a plan TODAY and start saving your pennies so you can get out from behind your computer and expand your horizons in 2017. If you’re working on building any sort of business I absolutely recommend investing in VenturePOP. Plus who doesn’t want to spend the weekend in New Orleans??
You can do it!