How to Connect at a Conference
As a career coach and writer, I love attending conferences. I just returned from a fabulous retreat where 19 women convened to practice the craft of writing. The most wonderful thing about this retreat was that the women who attended didn’t just practice writing, they practiced sharing their heart and soul. They connected with each other and when that happens, the energy experienced both individually and collectively is powerful.
Writing was the medium through which this all happened but it could have been a retreat on coaching or hiking or computer repair. The topic isn’t the most important part, although as a writer, I’m prejudiced enough to believe that writing has a unique ability to join people together through the heart.
How to Create Connection
There are retreats and conferences where people connect and share and there are retreats and conferences where there is a lack of connection. What is it that creates this energy, this transformation, this connection? I believe it is several things:
- Mindset Begin with a positive mindset. Come into the experience with the intention of learning, growing and sharing. Think it doesn’t make a different? Think about the last time you were required to go to an in-service and the mindset you had going in. Were you negative, resentful and determined that it would be a waste of time? If so, I bet it was just that. A positive mindset has the opposite effect.
- Participate As much as you may want to gain from a conference, there is no question that if you simply sit back and wait to be involved, you will get less from the experience. Try the activities, volunteer, share your thoughts and questions. Do whatever it takes to be engaged with the process.
- Expect success When you attend a conference and expect that it will be worthwhile–it usually is. Our expectations are a huge part of our experience, so do your research and know what the goals are and what you can expect to gain from attending. Then look for ways to maximize your time.
- Be willing to be uncomfortable Take a leap of faith and exit your comfort zone. If you are attending with a friend, don’t just stay together. Sit with other people, engage in conversation with other participants. You might even set a goal of how many other people you will meet.
- Be present Don’t attend the conference and spend your time catching up on work or checking your emails. Be wholly present and attentive to the experience.
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