Are you thinking of attending an event targeted at people in your field of business? Perhaps a conference, a camp, classes, or workshops? Waiting to see what Jessika’s brewing up so the Oh My community can meet? Besides having a fun time at business events, how do you determine which will be good investments?
image by Brooke Dennis on the Alt Summit 2012 Flickr stream
When the internet started buzzing about Altitude Summit (a conference primarily for design bloggers) last fall, I pricked my ears up and started thinking about it. Although I’d never attended an event like it before, I couldn’t get the idea out of my head, and ended up convincing three of my Aeolidia teammates to pack up and share a luxurious room at the Grand America hotel in Salt Lake City with me.
Chris, my business partner and husband, thought if I was going to invest in the conference for business purposes, I’d better make it worth my while, so he insisted I send an email to Alt offering to help out. Public speaking is not in my self-created job description, but I sent that email off, heart pounding. I ended up speaking on a panel with three very talented folks regarding Web Design: Dos and Don’ts.
I was pretty sure that attending Alt was going to be fun, but the cost of attending adds up. Would it be worth it for my business? We were going to Alt as service providers, not as their target audience. We hoped to meet, greet, and network, but were unsure what the return on our investment would be.
Less than a week after going to Alt, I’m confident that it was a good business decision, and here are some reasons why:
I finally got to meet my team!
I have nine full time designers and developers at Aeolidia, and aside from the pals in Seattle, I’ve never met them, and hadn’t even talked to them on the phone. Alt Summit gave us a time and place to meet up and get to know one another. Aside from just having a fun time chatting with Lauren, Meg, and Zoe, Shoshanna and I had some invigorating and useful business conversations with them as well. It has been great and pretty easy with us all working remotely, but I can see now that it would be nice to have everyone right there with me to bounce ideas off of. Meeting in person was valuable and I expect it to strengthen our team. If you have a chance to meet people you work with, definitely do it, do it, do it!
I am more firmly established as an expert in my field.
We have been pretty much keeping to ourselves, designing and building nice websites, nose to the grindstone. Before this, we didn’t have much to put on any kind of press or publicity page on our site, but now we have this bit of recognition to add to our testimonials and portfolio as a reason to trust us. Contributing to an event like this reflects well on your business.
I have a better understanding of what our clients are looking for.
Since this conference was geared toward an audience that we want to speak to, we could look at all of the panels, roundtables, and classes from the point of view of our potential clients, and learn more about what they’re interested in and concerned about. I took good notes on the panels and will be sharing those as blog posts, newsletters, and plans for our clients. It’s easy to think of everything from your own perspective, but extremely helpful to get into your clients or customers’ heads when making business plans.
I met colleagues.
It was so much fun talking with other web designers and people I’ve been planning and collaborating with. I also got to introduce myself to people I admire. Talking to the people I already know online helped me feel more connected with them and will likely make it easier to collaborate with them in the future. A cheery “hello” to people I don’t know makes it easier to approach them going forward. Don’t think of others in your business as competitors, but instead as colleagues who you can learn from and share connections with.
I made plans with clients.
A few of the business owners we’ve worked with over the years were at Alt, and we got to talk with them in person about how their sites are working now, how they want them to work, and what plans they have. It’s always more personable to chat with a client in the flesh than to send an email, but we don’t often get the chance to do that. Speaking personally to your clients or customers is a great opportunity to both review and plan.
I got to chat with potential clients.
I also talked to a few people who are planning to work with us in the future, and it was exciting to hear that we’re on at least one person’s 2012 goal list. Apparently, Shoshanna introduced herself in her watercolor class and found a fan! Again, back to that “nose to the grindstone” thing, I truthfully didn’t understand how far our reach is at the moment, and it feels very exciting to know we’re being noticed and to make plans for being seen even further. Having all your hard work validated can push you to do even better.
I was motivated.
This conference, in particular, was extremely motivating to me. In part because of the panels and keynotes, but it also felt great to be surrounded by creative people who were planning out their own lives and trying to make things that are the best and the most beautiful. If you’re like many creative people, you probably spend a lot of time surrounded by people grudgingly heading off to their 9 to 5 job, or family members who are worrying about your own financial security. It was inspiring and validating being around so many people who that was not the case for. The right people and atmosphere can energize you to dream big for your business!
I got out of the house!
Let me tell you, I spend a lot of time in my house. Which I love. Perhaps I love it a little too much. Knowing that there is a real world out there composed of all the people I’ve been emailing, chatting with on Twitter, and working on projects with is a breath of fresh air. Dabbling into that world for a moment makes all the tweets and blog comments and whatnot more real to me. Introverts! Fight your inclinations for a moment and stretch your wings a bit.
This all sounds pretty great, right? I would recommend finding places to meet with your community, or making places to meet. On the airplane back, I read an article in Uppercase magazine about various design camps that are worth looking into. There was talk at Alt about all kinds of group meetups, from people wanting Pinterest meetups to BurdaStyle’s global meetups, and other community projects. Of course keep an eye out for Jessika to bring the Oh My! community together. I hope to do more things like this in the future, so if you see me around, please do say hi!
Really enjoyed getting your perspective on the Alt Summit Arianne – it sounds like an amazing experience all around! And your suggestion to ‘meet up’ really resonates – community is so important. Thank you for sharing!
Oh, this is such a great article. And I can’t say enough how happy I am to see Arianne writing more and more these days! I haven’t attended alt but I can say that the events I go to – trade shows – pop ups etc. have been so beneficial. While the internet is great, there seems to be no substitute for in person human interaction. Also, I think it shows customers/potential customers and contacts that you really are committed, and willing to spend a little time (and money possibly) to learn more about the terrain of your profession.
At first, it made me nervous to spend money and effort on events. But the more I participate in, the better it feels to be a part of them, the more benefit I get from them, and the more I look forward to them!
Thank you for a great read! : )
I love this recap! Especially like the encouragement to introverts to stretch their wings! After this year’s experience, do you think you’ll be going to Alt 2013?
Thanks, Nanako! Susy, I love hearing your perspective on this. Lauren – I’m in if you’re in!
Yay for you Arianne! I love to hear how well established small business owners, actually take the time to continue learning. I hope you ladies (and Chris) had a great time!
Not to mention I’m also personally (vested) excited because I’m smack in the middle of a site redesign with both you and Meg:) I can’t wait to see what new ideas you’ve come up with.
I’m looking forward to your upcoming posts!
(and i’m SOOO excited to see how jessica’s plans unfold for a canadiancreatives gathering! we’d all be there with bells on, cutiepie!)
Stacy, the learning never ends! I make improvements to what we do at Aeolidia nearly every day. Of course, with the web, things are always changing, so it’s not a good industry to get too complacent in, either. 😀
A great post Arianne! I came back from ALT with a lot going through my head and planing on how to make it come to fruition is now underway. On a more personal note it was so great to finally meet you and your team! 🙂
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