The Power of Attending Conferences, Workshops, and Retreats
Estimated Reading Time: 8 minutes
A small handful of creative entrepreneurs attend Conferences, Workshops, and Retreats every year.
And a lot of creative entrepreneurs, for whatever reasons they may be, do not. We buy online courses, classes, and attend online webinars all day long, but going to anything in-person has lot lower of a chance of it actually happening.
Why is that? The power of attending an in-person event gives you something that all of these online offerings do not, and that's something that I want talk about today. So below, I wanted to write a post sharing with you why I think that attending an in-person event is not only important, but should be a vital item you include in your business as an entrepreneur.
After reading, let us know your thoughts on if you find these same things to be true!
This past weekend, I attended the Craft + Commerce Conference that was put on by Convertkit (now Seva). It took place in Boise, Idaho, which was in a part of the US that I had never been to before. That was one of the first bonuses to attending, that I got to see a part of the country I had never seen and experienced somewhere entirely new.
Upon landing, I met up with my dear friend Kelsey Baldwin of Paper and Oats (fun fact: Kelsey and I were roommates at our Conference in 2015, and our friendship that was built that first in-person meeting is still growing, now today is stronger than ever!) where we then met up with Jamie of Spruce Road and explored the city of Boise a bit. We walked along the riverwalk, stepped to the side for cyclists to cruise by on a path, enjoyed pizza, potatoes, and cocktails that the city was known for, and then walked on over to Jump to pick up our registration bags and attend the welcome party, thus beginning our Conference experience.
Saturday and Sunday, we listened to a variety of presentations by incredible entrepreneurs including Pat Flynn, Jay Ferruggia, Oneika Raymond, Corey Willis, Crosby Nicks, Maya Elious, Casey Neistat, Charli Prangley, Bob Claggett, Mary Shenouda, and even
ConvertKit Seva CEO Nathan Barry.
So for today's post, I want to share about a few of the highlights of them with each of you. I wish that I could share bits about every single one of the presentations and breakouts that I attended, but keeping the length in mind, I want to highlight a couple of presentations alone.
Pat Flynn started out reading a children's book, Llama Llama, Red Pajama (which left us all wondering what in the world he was doing), and then shared THIS video to compliment it.
You see, Ludacris has a unique style all his own. When you listen to his music, you recognize his voice and his style instantly.
Ludacris may be thought to be weird when recording the Llama Llama video, but it resonated well with parents who were reading the book to their kids and people asked for more, and he was able to do it in such a way that was all his own. Did he do that for himself? Perhaps, but who do you think it served better? Himself? Or his audience?
There are no unique messages, only unique messengers.
Pat then continued, sharing about a man he knew in college named Dwight, who showed up every single day on his college campus to simply say "God Bless You" to each and every one of the students who passed him by. Dwight showed up every day, over and over, serving the college students with encouraging words before a big exam, or on gamedays, even adapting his words to "God Bless You, go Bears" but every single message was the same. Dwight put his own unique, creative spin on what he did, and he showed up every single day. He shared with us how to embrace our unique personalities and to stay that way, to show up, to make change in the way that only we can, to share, to embrace opportunities, and more than anything else, this:
If with what you do, every day, you kept it simple? What would that look like?
He continually encouraged us to find out who we are and build our businesses specifically on that, keeping simplicity on the forefront. And more than anything else, it's about the "person to person" relationships. Show up to embrace things that happen, share your stories, and grow your brand in it's own unique way.
Later in the day, Oneika Raymond shared her presentation on Living Life with No Regrets.
Oneika started out as an educator who found she had a love for travel. So, she started a blog all about traveling, and then learned how to turn her passion into a paycheck and now travels the world doing just that.
She reminded us to identify your gifts and strengths first, then find a way to turn them into a business
To create content for your audience, NOT for yourself. What problems can you solve, how can you help?
And the biggest takeaway, which was this quote here:
Have the audacity to dream, but also the drive to put in the work to get there.
The entire experience was filled with moments like this. Over the next few days, we heard from more than 16 speakers through both on-stage presentations and workshops designed to teach us specific skills.
Corey Willis reminded us to set realistic expectations, knowing what the best use of time was, know what's working and what's not, and being consistent, each and every day.
Tom and Dan from Studio Neat shared how they come up with ideas, how they sensed when there were little frictions, creating products that fixed a problem that they found and hoped that others would have it too. They shared that we learn by doing, and that the future is niche, serving small markets well.
Crosby Noricks walked us through why having a case for curiosity is important, the desire to take the novelty of an idea and if we turn it into an effortful item with what we can learn from it, as it prepares us for epiphanies by making us aware of our own blind spots and teaches us what we still need to learn.
Charli Prangley encouraged us to find a niche, to take the time to make human connections with the items we make. She reminded us to serve your audience first, the algorithm next, and more than anything else, that you've got to have a true passion for what you do, each and every day.
Maya Elious reminded us to take an fear that we have, and use it as an instinct to help us to make decisions, to use fear as a way to propel you forward to things that are bigger than you, to things that are leading you in to your purpose, to replace fear fully with courage.
And then Bob Claggett came on stage, sharing that there are various versions of people that are needed in this world - some are the specialists, honing in on one particular strength, while others are a swiss army knife, skill collectors who are people who learn new things and put them in your back pocket until you need them.
And the entire room was feeling like a huge conglomeration of people saying, "yes, yes, yes."
Now, as you're reading this here, there's a chance you may feel slightly connected to some of the words above. You may watch the presentations later if they are shared on YouTube from this Conference. But. You won't get to experience it if you aren't there in-person. You won't get to feel the energy in the room, meet people you otherwise wouldn't have a chance to meet, and learn things that you wouldn't have even thought of before.
I connected with an entrepreneur who teaches women how to become virtual assistants.
I connected with a writer who is based in Texas, teaching people how to become writers themselves.
I connected with a husband and wife team who design beautiful website templates for creatives.
I connected with a marketing strategist who loves to empower entrepreneurs to think differently and follow their intuitions.
I connected with a health and wellness blogger who teaches women about mind, body, and soul healing.
And so many more.
Many people may read the above connections and think "They're not like you. You don't do what they do." But I would challenge that 100% to say that I may not do what they do, but we all have tremendous heart behind what we do, and for that, we all connected easily. We are each shaping our own paths, our own journeys, our own definitions of success and we ALL can learn things from each other.
And we are all selflessly serving our audiences in the best way we know how, to make impacts for those we are blessed to get to teach, to create with every day, or even simply to be words of encouragement for.
In addition, I also connected with people who I already knew and have followed online for a few years, and that in itself was a tremendous blessing, as we now have the personal connection to build upon our friendships as they continue to grow in the years ahead. We stayed up too late, laughed too hard, even had emotional breakthroughs and just simply spent time enjoying each other's company, instead of retreating back to our individual hotel rooms and hanging out solo each night.
Simply said, attending in-person events helps you connect face to face with people you may have only thought you would get to know online through a screen, people you never would have possibly knew you wanted to come across in the first place, or people in entirely different industries who you find that you do, in fact, have quite a few things in common with.
It allows you to connect with new individuals, have conversations over breakfast, lunch, and dinner over things you've learned in sessions that took place. To talk further on topics that were highlighted, to pour into others who are learning new things and asking you questions, and have your own cup filled up with things you learn from asking them questions as well.
It also allows you to strengthen the friendships with people you've known possibly for years online already, who once you meet in person, you know your friendships will only grow stronger from there.
It allows you to dance and laugh and sing your heart out with people who you originally thought of as strangers, who you now consider friends.
You see, in this world we are in, a lot of times we work behind a screen as individuals. A lot of times we might go day after day without seeing people in person who do what we do. We don’t get to connect over the latest drama that a printer created (this scene from The Office) or go to lunch with co-workers. We write emails, write blog posts, share videos, write captions for Instagram photos, share projects, share thoughts, share dreams. But we are missing out on one important thing with all of that.
Face to face interactions that are so present in the corporate and office-space world, where you can literally reach out and touch someone. Where you can hear their laughter, hear their struggles, and literally sense the feelings of everyone around you.
True, human connections are made at in-person events, in a way that you can't do so behind a screen as a creative entrepreneur.
To step out from behind those screens and be able to sit shoulder to shoulder with someone else who truly understands what you do on a daily basis, to chat with someone who you can connect with instantly, to learn something new from someone who wants to help you to learn too, that is why attending in-person events is so important.
The one thing that tends to hold people back from attending an in-person experience is the cost. They look at the number and automatically click away, simply saying they can't afford it. Between the travel costs, the accommodation costs, and the ticket itself, it is almost always an investment. But that's exactly what in-person events are, what they're designed to be.
They're designed to be an invaluable investment in yourself, in learning new skills for your business, in your strength and capacity and knowledge as a business owner and in choosing to do something for yourself, to help yourself to continually be inspired in your work from people you're surrounded by and learn new things along the way, while building friendships with people who will be there for you as you go through it all, both in-person and beyond the screen interactions.
If you are debating attending an in-person experience simply because you are more comfortable at home, I want to challenge that. I want you to encourage you to think beyond the screen, to think about the relationships with people that you could be missing out on if you don't just take the step, sign up, and GO.
And if you do attend, set up the mindset on your way there that you'll step out from your introvert shell, if that's something you feel held back by.
Start conversations. Ask questions. Take notes upon notes. Sit by strangers. Introduce yourself, and then listen to what they have to say when they introduce themselves back to you. And after the sessions take place, go exploring. Try new restaurants or ice cream shops. Visit the boutiques in the city you're in. Connect with locals.
And stay up way too late talking with the friends you just met even if you have a crazy early flight the next morning simply because you don't want the night to end.
(sidenote: I do not recommend to ever take a 6am flight the day after a conference ends, if only for the possibility of the reason above...not that I was reminded of that once again from experience on this trip or anything)
And then, continue to pour into each other long after you leave. Continue to strengthen those friendships. Continue to reach out to people you met, and perhaps you'll get lucky enough to get to see each other again, even if you live on opposite sides of the country.
For that, I think attending in-person events is not only important, but vital to your continued growth as a creative entrepreneur.
What are you waiting for??
Take the leap. Sign Up. Go. And enjoy every minute of it all.
The next time you have an opportunity to go to an in-person event whether it's a small intimate workshop-style Conference with 25 women (hey, maybe even like this one happening in October? ;) ) or a large, 300+ person event like the Craft + Commerce one I attended, if it's an in-person opportunity to connect with fellow entrepreneurs, I hope you will sign up to go, and experience it fully. I truly, truly, do.
Want to see another version of this post, with entirely different content and in video format? Watch our IGTV Video on this topic here!
S H A R E Y O U R T H O U G H T S
Have you attended an in-person event before, such as a conference, workshop, or retreat? If so, what were your biggest takeaways from attending? Share your thoughts with us below!