Attending Conferences 101: You Don't Have To Try Everything

By Sara Urquhart  Photo by: Justin Hackworth

This series focuses on lessons I’ve learned about attending conferences over the years of organizing Alt. Read about how more isn’t always better here, and how relaxing will make for a better conference experience here,  and the importance of taking action here .

In a previous post in this series, I suggested that you must take action after a conference. Acting on new ideas and new information is essential to changing your business and making the most of your conference experience. Do take action, but don’t feel like you have to try every new idea you hear. Realize that presenters will be speaking to bloggers of every level. If you’re a beginner, don’t allow yourself to be overwhelmed by advice that was meant for someone well on her way in her blogging career.

Wisely choose action items that feel like your next steps. Businesses are built brick by brick, so do things in the proper order, and remember the adage that milk comes before meat. Don’t race ahead to milestones you aren’t ready to reach; instead, focus on what’s next for you and your business.

If you leave an event with a to-do list so daunting it’s left you feeling paralyzed, you won’t progress. I’ve found that paralysis often accompanies too many ideas or ideas we’re not yet ready for, so trim your to-do list and choose action items that will stretch you, but that feel manageable for the size of your business. A great idea that you’re not ready to tackle will not do you as much good as a great idea that you can execute. Start there. 

Attending Conferences 101: The Benefits Of Reception

By: Sara Urquhart  Photo by: Justin Hackworth

This series focuses on lessons I’ve learned about attending conferences over the years of organizing Alt. Read about how more isn’t always better here and how relaxing will make for a better conference experience here.

Whether you’re hearing presentations online or attending in person, don’t be afraid to repeat classes. For one thing, I’ve never seen a class that’s been taught exactly the same way twice, even if it’s the same teacher. Teachers are always updating their content, or sharing new stories that are relevant to the class. The same teacher can still have great information to share.

If you listened to a class at one point in your career, I am certain you’ll get something different out of it after you’ve made some progress. Practices that felt like a big deal to you six months ago are now old hat, and you’re ready to hear the next step. It’s amazing how a familiar topic can continue to yield new ideas and inspiration as our level of experience grows.

If it’s a similar subject, but a different teacher than you’ve seen in the past, definitely don’t hesitate to attend again. Every teacher has a different take on a subject, different information, and different experiences to reference. If the topic is especially interesting or relevant to your business, learn about it from as many people as you can. Gleaning ideas and perspectives from a number of experts will help you forge your own best practices.

Take advantage of every opportunity to learn about growing your business, and it may not be long before you’re the expert. 

Attending Conferences 101: There Isn't A Checklist

By Sara Urquhart  Photo by: Justin Hackworth

This series focuses on lessons I’ve learned about attending conferences over the years of organizing Alt. Read about how more isn’t always better here and how relaxing will make for a better conference experience here.

When you hear a blogger share her stories of success, great projects, and interesting collaborations, it’s tempting to think that there might be a checklist that will lead you to the same outcome. If she did X and it led her to Y, doesn’t it follow that if you also do X it will lead to you to Y? Well…in theory. Follow her lead in terms of hard work, drive, and especially innovation, but use your own judgment and especially your own creativity to create projects and ideas that will lead to your own success.

Speakers have valuable experience that can make your path easier. They can help you avoid mistakes they might have made, and give you great ideas about navigating this world of social media. But the people we admire shine because they’ve been innovative and taken risks; they’ve done something new, clever, creative, and original. By definition, it’s impossible to do exactly what someone else has done and still maintain a claim on innovation and originality. So find your path, and inspire the Alt community with your great ideas. Come up with your own new project, your own new concepts.

One of my favorite things about this community is that we’re seeing year after year how completely possible it is for hardworking risk takers to inspire us. You can do it. And we can’t wait to see what you come up with next!

Best Time To Prepare For Alt? Now!

By Sara Urquhart  Image by: Justin Hackworth

We’re all balancing our typical roles of work, blog, online shop, and/or projects at this time of year plus the emotion and extra work of the holidays. If you have children, they’ll be out of school before you know it, then it’s a brand new year, and suddenly you find yourself on your way to Alt.

Now is the time to think about those things that need to be done to prepare for Alt. Avoid handing out business cards you’re not so proud of or that constant apology for the state of your site by putting those things on your schedule now. Account for design and printing turnaround time for business cards or promotional pieces; think of design and coding time for site updates. If what you’ll wear is important to you, plan to think about outfits with enough time to shop for or order extra pieces you might want.

Now is the time to update your bio, begin thinking about goals for next year, and do a little research about people you might like to connect with at Alt. Think about how you’ll introduce yourself and what you’ll want to be talking about—and listening for. Give yourself a little time to prepare for Alt by thinking now about what needs to happen in order for you to feel calm and prepared about attending. Then put those items on your calendar, and enjoy the preparations!

Networking At The Summit

By: Tracy Jackson  Image by: Bent Tuba Studio

Oh be joyful, January is almost here?  That may scare some because there’s a lot to do between now and the first of the year, but it also means the Alt Summit is near.  So, in preparation for the Conference, let’s talk about networking.  Just because you blog behind a screen doesn’t mean you can remain invisible.  To grow your business, you will need to network like a ninja.  Here are some ideas that should help:

Consider what you want to Achieve

If you are serious about networking, it’s wise to ask yourself prior to an event who do I want to meet and why?  Pre-planning may seem contrived, but you will accomplish more if you set networking goals.  Goal setting may be as basic as establishing the number of contacts you want to make. 

Be Fearless and Confident

Shrinking violets don’t network well. To quote Sara Bareilles, “I just wanna see you be brave.” You have to be willing to approach high-profile people who have achieved great things. Of course, you need to exude confidence when you approach people—confidence is one of the most alluring traits you can exhibit.  You’ll make an impression if you confidently go where most savvy networkers go!

Listen and Learn

Sometimes it’s easy to underestimate the power of listening.  Good listeners set themselves apart from most folks, so listen long if you have to; it will give you insight into people and reveal what they value.  Listening will help you learn how to add and extract value from your relationship genuinely.

Build Relationships via Genuine Conversation

Networking is all about relationships.  Quality relationships usually stem, in part, from quality conversations.  You need to communicate well to be a networker extraordinaire. Avoid boring, idle chatter. Ask questions.  Have something to say—know your stuff.  Be interesting. Remember, conversations don’t have to revolve around your professional life.  Personal details can help lighten the mood; they also help get people talking.  Share something memorable so your conversation will have staying power. 

Add Value

Super Networkers provide immediate value to a new connection.  What does this mean exactly?  That the moment you identify a way to assist someone, you take immediate action. It may be as small as introducing a new contact to one of your connections.  It goes without saying that if you tell a new contact that you’ll do something, you should always follow through with your promises.  

This post was written and sponsored by atly.

Alt Summer Conferences: Be Ready

By: Sara Urquhart

The Alt summer conferences offer so many opportunities for building your business and your network. Be prepared to make the most of them with these suggestions.

1. Know what you want. You’ll get the most out of Alt by establishing clear intentions. Are you hoping to meet new friends, collaborators, or business partners? Looking for opportunities to contribute on other blogs? Hoping to connect with sponsors? Or just seeking inspiration and advice from the Alt community? Approach Alt with one or two goals in mind, and use them to guide your conversations and interactions.

2. Be flexible. Remember that great things often happen when we’re least expecting them. Be open-minded about unexpected directions or conversations, and you might walk away with an opportunity you’d never dreamed of.

3. Share openly, and listen well. Introduce yourself and your work with confidence and listen respectfully as others share their work and thoughts. Offer assistance, connections and introductions in the spirit of helpfulness that characterizes the Alt community.

4. Plan for success. Shortly after Alt, make an appointment with yourself (and keep it!) to review your notes and create a plan to implement your new ideas. All the great things you learned will serve you best when you put them into action.