Should you attend an industry conference?

Part of my job as the Creative Director at StationeryHQ.com is to find ways to support our customers while they build their dreams. We do that by offering products at wholesale prices, with quick delivery and stellar quality. But we also support our favs by shopping at their stores when we need a gift or card and supporting the organizations that support our customers.

I’ve been following the Dream Team at [email protected] for awhile and love the work they do and the helpful resources they provide for creative entrepreneurs. When I saw the notice that they were hosting their annual conference both live and virtually, I hoped we’d be able to help out. And I hoped I’d be able to attend because, YES YOU SHOULD ATTEND INDUSTRY CONFERENCES.

Obviously this depends upon health risks and COVID numbers, that goes without saying. But someday we’ll be on the other side of the pandemic and it will be our opportunity to soak up all the good things that come from being in a room full of your peers.

It’s been a few weeks since the conference and I continue to be affected by what I learned and the people I met while I was there.

One of my big takeaways from the beautiful event set in Bermuda Run, North Carolina, is that your peers understand your challenges better than anybody. The things that you think are unique to you are also “unique” to so many others who have similar goals and aspirations. There’s nothing quite like that feeling you get when a speaker seems to be talking directly to you. Where you’re like, “GET OUTTA MY HEAD HOW DO YOU KNOW THIS ABOUT ME???” And then you look around the room and see a bunch of other astounded faces thinking the exact same thing. These are your people. They show you that you’re not alone and together you can create solutions to overcome just about anything.

What it looks like when the speaker is sharing the thing you needed to hear.

Every time I attend a workshop or conference in the creative space I am reminded that is that there is ALWAYS something to learn and I can learn from everybody in the room. Speakers at events are experts in their fields and have that thing a person needs to possess in order to think it’s “fun to stand up and talk to a room full of people.” They share their experience, research and wisdom. Soaking up this information in person is different than listening to a podcast or reading a book (which are great ways to learn, I do both constantly). There’s something about the energy in a room full of people who want to learn that adds gravity to the information and helps it stick long after you’re home. Not to mention a ready-made group who is enthusiastic about dissecting the topic immediately afterward.

But speakers aren’t the only people with experiences and knowledge to share. I’ve created lifelong friendships with people I met at the HOW Mind Your Own Business conference a hundred years ago. They’ve helped me solved problems, listened to me bitch and moan and celebrated the wins with me. And I’ve done the same for them, they are my people.

The [email protected] conference is focused on Creative Entrepreneurs so the content ranged from topics about the mechanics of running a business – from social media tips to the importance of customer service and everything in between. There was also a lot of attention given to mindfulness, self-care and asking for help when you need it. While running your own business has lots of perks, it can also be exhausting.

What still resonates with me now that I’m back home in California is that having a support system is crucial, both for your business and for your mental health and well being. That support system can be friends and family, peers you met at a conference or partners who do the work they’re good at so you can do the work that you’re good at. The sooner you unload whatever is dragging you down, the sooner you spread your wings and fly.

I’m inspired by the new friends I made and motivated by the information I gathered at this well organized and beautifully designed event– can’t wait for the next one!

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