Considering the fact that I’ve published a grand total of 7 blog posts for 2015, you might be surprised to find out that I recently attended Haven Conference. I mean, no writer in their right mind who is posting on average of one time a month would think it’s a smart idea to attend one of the biggest conferences in their industry. Truth be told, I had no business being there other than the fact that it was something I’ve always wanted to do and I knew not going would mean BIG life regret. Plus when you need an education, you want to learn from the best, right?!
So I decided to kick my fear and excuses to the curb and book the trip. I packed up my laptop and some quickly made business cards and headed to Atlanta to rub shoulders with the queens of DIY blogging.
Here’s what I learned:
1. Bring business cards… And lots of them.
You will hear a lot about making these and what you MUST include. There are tons of great suggestions, but if the perfectionist in you leaves you feeling paralyzed to create THE perfect card, stop worrying about it. Get something simple that you like and then be unapologetic about them when you hand them out. Yes, this is a great way to make an amazing first impression, but ultimately your card is a tool for others to follow up with you later. Make an authentic connection with people when you meet them and you will leave a bigger impact than the type font you choose.
2. Dress to impress… Yourself.
This may sound silly, but you’ll be meeting a ton of new people and you want to wear something that makes you feel your best. The first mixer feels like the first day of high school and yes… you will be surrounded by the usual suspects. And if you’re like me and throw-up in the middle of the community carnival right before your freshman year of school starts which leaves you to shamefully admit for the first two weeks of school that yes, indeed you ARE the girl that threw-up at the Corn Festival to every “Hey aren’t you…?” you’ll realize that you will live through even your worst case scenario for Haven. But dressing in your favorites helps too.
Bottomline… You want to wear something that makes you feel amazing and then enter that event and SHINE. Things will get easier from there, I promise.
3. Talk to everyone.
You will feel the need to “pitch” the companies that are there and make the most of this opportunity. Because I knew I had so much to learn, pitching and networking were low on my priority list. This took a ton of pressure off me to try to get “in” with the sponsors and instead I was able to meet a lot of great people that work for some of my favorite companies.
And when you start the conversation with Home Depot by saying “What are you doing here?” instead of asking what is happening at their booth, everyone laughs at how ridiculous it sounds and the tension is immediately broken. Sliding into becoming a blog ambassador becomes easy and a lot less intimidating after that.
4. Take time to prioritize.
My best tip to avoid feeling overwhelmed is to prioritize what you need to do first when you get home. I did this after the first sessions and it was a HUGE help. Just list out all the great information that you’ve heard and what needs to be tackled first. You are going to want to do it all and do it NOW. But let’s face it, that’s impossible. List out what needs to happen first and fill in with anything that you learn in day two. Then you have an action plan and will feel empowered instead of overwhelmed.
The take away:
If there’s something you want to pursue… Find a way and do it! If there is a prize for biggest poser at this conference, I would’ve received it. I say that not in an apologetic way, but to be clear that not being at the top of your game should not be a reason to NOT do something. Would it have been awesome if I was where I want to be with my writing instead of the place I’m currently stalled at? Absolutely! But I’ve spent the last three years yearning to go and coming up with every excuse not to. And if I would’ve passed on the event again, I would’ve missed out on so much.
Haven is a crash course on blogging and getting where you want to go with it. Not only did I learn a ton about what I’m doing right and oh so much more about what I’m doing wrong, I learned what I need to do to get where I want to go with my dream. It’s time to stop floundering and to begin flourishing.
What have you been dreaming of doing, but have been putting off for “someday”? What do you wish you were doing that you don’t feel qualified for? What are you waiting for? Find a way and go do it!