I’ve been to a few different conferences during my working life and they’ve all taught me something different. The biggest benefit is that I’ve become more discerning about the ones I attend. The drive to behave like a business owner and only invest where it’s warranted gets stronger every day. In terms of attitude I think I went from one extreme to the other – either ‘I mustn’t spend any money’ or ‘I’m going to spend everything I have spare – it’s probably worth it.’ I soon realised that ‘probably worth it’ didn’t cut it. Now I’m somewhere between the two. I have to consider whether it’s worth my time and the money I’m spending on it. So, here are a few of my conference experiences so you can think about what you get out of a conference – hopefully I’ll save you from making some of the mistakes I did.
The posh one
AKA the expensive one, especially for a brand new business owner. To be honest, the cost was worth it for the chance to stay in one of the most amazing hotels I have ever visited, to be wined and dined and meet great people. Yet when the chance came to go again, I decided against it.
Why? The speaker panel was almost too targeted for me. I knew that I would learn something great from some of the speakers, but wasn’t sure about the final two. One was an expert in something I still have no interest in pursuing. The other was talking about how to use a platform that I was a long way off exploring. It was still a great experience – it’s just taught me to trust my gut when I’m not sure how much I’m going to learn.
The massive expo
I dabbled in travel marketing for a little while and went to the world’s largest travel expo at the ExCel in London. It was massive. There were exhibitors from all over the world and I talked to loads of them. I’m an introvert which doesn’t mean I avoid talking to people, I just have to have some time off to recover afterwards.
The lesson from this one was a fairly slow burn. I knew that I didn’t want to be an ‘influencer’ but thought that I could still work with some of the smaller travel companies. After the expo, even though I changed my marketing I kept getting enquiries from other kinds of small business. I thought it would be easy to turn them down, but actually they were great projects. Crucially, they were also the kind of people that I wanted to work with. Eventually I realised that I just love travelling for fun, I don’t have to focus on it in my work.
The one where I was a speaker
This one was a real challenge for me. When my friend said she was organising a conference and asked me to be a speaker I said yes immediately. I wanted to support her and thought that I could work out how to do it afterwards. At the time I hardly did any public speaking and I’d never run a workshop before. The best advice I was given beforehand was to remember that I knew something that the audience didn’t. They wanted to learn from me. I was nervous to begin with but as soon as I saw people nodding and taking notes I knew it was going to be fine.
The best thing about that conference was that I didn’t just teach. I was surrounded by women in business just like me. I learned from the other speakers and the attendees as well. It taught me to think about who I’m going to spending my time with. (Although I must admit that the delicious food, gorgeous hotel and spa time helped to make it wonderful too.)
If all of that sounds good to you, we’re going to be doing it all again at the end of September. You can sign up to my mailing list using the form below, then you’ll be the first to receive all of the details! You’ll also get to hear all about my workshops and training options.