I am thrilled to be going to next month’s BConnected Conference. I cannot say I felt the same for last year as nerves got the best of me as I attended it more with a nervous determination than joyful anticipation. Last year at this time I was still researching all the ins and outs of starting my blog. I was determined to make a go of my dream to live life creatively through designing, patternmaking, and sewing on my blog. I showed up the first day of the blogging conference knowing no one and so green I still had an egg for my Twitter profile image, and I did not have business cards yet. Everyone looked seasoned, organized, and like networking geniuses. I walked in watching the attendees passing business cards around like candy and wondered to myself if anyone could tell I wanted to go right back out the way I came in? As luck would have it, I sat at a table with some very knowledgeable and entirely friendly people. And to my surprise, I found out later on that day that it was the first conference for a few of the others at the table too.
I have been to two conferences since and have met some very amazing people there while learning about things I didn’t even now would be helpful to me in my quest to be a blogger. I have noticed it is getting slightly easier but that I need to jump out of my introvert shell even more in the future. So I am starting now to mentally prepare myself for the BConnected Conference.
Four Ways This Introvert Can Make Sure I get the Most out of Future Conferences
- Push myself out of my comfort zone before the conference even starts
- Pre-Conference communication
- See things from a different perspective. So many things are mental.
- Be Prepared
Push myself out of my comfort zone before the conference even starts.
A lot has changed since that first conference. I have launched my blog and relish the challenge each month’s design challenge brings and am meeting new people on-line every day. One of the things that pushed me out of my comfort zone was when I discovered live-streaming. I started Periscoping hoping to find and connect with more people in my niche. I did not take to it like a duck to water, that is a story for another blog post, but I am now comfortable broadcasting live. I find myself recently looking for opportunities that would have terrified me in the past. When faced with these situations, I remind myself that this new challenge is so much easier than my first live stream on Periscope and know I can not only handle it but that I will thrive.
The confidence has carried over to starting my own Blab.im show That Sewing Blab. I do not imagine that I would have had the courage to ask my co-host Alethia @sewmuchtalent to start the show with me a year ago.
I have found that each of these experiences has enabled this introvert to be able to try the next challenge. So go on, challenge yourself by trying something new. You never know where it will lead you or how it will change you.
Since the conference, I have thrown myself into supportive on-line communities, both those including other attendees of the BConnected Conference and those not. Gone is the egghead profile picture in Twitter and fear of social media. The trick is to join communities that educate and support each other: like the BConnected Conference Attendees Facebook group, and some of the many Facebook groups and forums that cater to people who like to sew. This year before I even pass through the conference doors I will know people there and what they do or write about on their blogs. And I cannot lie it is pretty cool that a couple of them will know me too.
See things from a different perspective. So many things are mental.
I think the first point about jumping out of your comfort zone flows perfectly into this one. I need to take this new found confidence and stop being my own toughest critic. When I think of all the things that still need to be tweaked on my blog, all the plans I have yet to put in place, and all the things I still need to learn more about I can start to feel overwhelmed. Next, I think of all the super talented people going to the conference this year I start to think of numbers, analytics and how I am so not where everyone else is. Then I give myself a mental kick and remind myself it is not about numbers but the community you build and how engaged they are with your content. I might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but I am pretty freaking awesome.
I have done things in one year that I never thought I would. I have learned a lot about blogging, social media, and live streaming (thanks to friends, podcasts, Periscopes, YouTube videos, and of course, Blab). Sure I have an even more staggering amount to learn, but I need to remember to appreciate my achievements and enjoy the ride.
Really what is the worst that could happen if you attend a conference full of strangers? Maybe you would feel like a bit of a wall hugger and feel out of place. But if I, nervous as I was that first conference, went, and I still learned a lot and managed to meet many fabulous people at the conference, you will too!
There are many things you can do to feel prepared for a conference. I always feel better when I go into a situation that I find nerve wrecking if I have planned ahead. One thing I do is pack well. Make sure you have all the gear you will need: water, snacks, electronic devices with supporting gear (tripods, lenses, extra batteries). Read up about the conference speakers so you know more about them and can formulate questions that you would like answered. Think of what your goals are for the conference, do you want to learn about a particular topic, make connections with specific people, have certain questions answered?
In situations when I want to inspire confidence in myself I usually make sure I feel like I am presenting my best self. I often use clothes like a suit of armor. If I look put together, it gives me more confidence. I wore a few of my designs while attending Periscope Summit Live in San Fransisco earlier this year. And it did make me feel more confident and had the added bonus of being a good conversation starter when people complimented me on one of my outfits. Clothing for some might not seem terribly important but for me, it is that extra shot of mojo I need which is why for this month’s design challenge I am going to be making an outfit to wear to the BConnected Conference.
Brief for the Conference Outfit Design Challenge
The Brief for this design challenge is simple.
- Make and wear one outfit I design myself to the conference. I can make more than two pieces but no less than two. The type of garment is up to my discretion, i.e., trousers, dress, jacket, tops
- Size: Mine! The garments for the blog are one-offs, and the best perk is getting to wear the clothing myself.
- They need to include at least two of the fabrics seen in the photo above. I can include more fabrics and more pieces depending on the designs I create. As I often do on my blog I picked two fabrics that I like but have no idea how I can use them. I am not even sure I like orange. What better way to get my creative juices flowing than to stretch myself. This is one of the scariest yet best parts of each challenge.
- Appropriate to wear to the conference. Seems an obvious requirement but sewing something that you sit down in for hours at a time, that is still comfortable and doesn’t look too wrinkly by the end of the day, is one of the goals. The sleeves of the shirt I wore last year (see the first photo in this post) wrinkled up so much that I looked like I had slept in the top for days. I do not want this year’s outfit to do the same. The outfit also has to transition from early morning starts to the scheduled evening functions.
I will start designing and put the selections for you to vote on this week on my blog. One of my favourite parts of the design challenges is getting feedback on my blog, social media channels, and live streaming platforms like Periscope, Snap Chat and MeVee from viewers. Thanks to all those who vote in the challenges and for your input. It makes the challenges so much more fun for me and helps improve my designs.
So if you are going to the conference, please say hi. I will be the slightly nervous but entirely excited woman wearing orange.
A Special Note of Thanks
One of the ladies I met at that table last year has kept me sane this last year. Cathy or @cantoncathy as most of the world knows her has inadvertently become a sort of mentor, but more importantly, a fantastic friend. On her blog Cathy Thinking Out Loud, she discusses everything from raising teenagers, to great tips on Tech, finances, blogging, movies, and travel. I learned from her that there is enough room for all of us on-line so we should boost each other up and that not everything has to be perfect.
Thank you also to Sandi of @CanadianBlogHouse, Lyne of @OttawaMommyClub, Emily of @Bestofthislife for your support this year. See you at the BConnected Conference.
Thanks to Nadine of Barnyard Studios du Coin, the official photographer of the BConnected Conference, for allowing me to use the photos she took at last year’s conference. I cannot wait to see the photos she takes this year at the event.