I’ve been to a multitude of conferences throughout my career as a counselor. Yet, I was ready to hang out with writers and influencers beyond the four walls of my private practice. If you’re like me, you’ve attended several conferences. Even though there may be hundreds of people, you feel alone and disconnected. And I’ve learned 4 ways to make the most of conference relationships.
The last few years I attended Jeff Goin’s Tribe Conference for writers and artists. This is a gathering of those who want to expand their influence and hone their craft. I resonate with Jeff because he thrives on relationships. And isn’t afraid to brag about his own therapist. Not only is he young enough to be my son, but he’s one of the wisest 34 year olds I know. And to me, he looks like he’s 14.
You may attend a conference for continuing education in your profession. Or you may plan on participating in an event that compliments your career. And here are four ways to make the most of conference relationships.
1. Social media groups
With my first conference in 2015, I didn’t know a soul, but I intentionally sat at the front table to focus and learn. I’m great at listening and comfortable with face-to-face connections. But, I lagged behind with follow-up.
At that time I was still a novice at social media. Many therapists are. Some don’t have personal Facebook accounts for fear of rejecting a client who asks to be a friend. Growth seems to require an element of risk for all of us.
Volunteering brings a sense of community. I was proud of the red T-shirt I got in Seattle at the Gottman-Siegel Summit in previous years. Being a volunteer at conferences connects you with people you wouldn’t otherwise know.
By year two of Tribe Conference, I volunteered with intentions to connect. I joined a coaching group and became a Tribe Girlfriend on a closed Facebook group. Our group met regularly all year through webcam calls. We laughed, prayed, encouraged, and shared words of wisdom along with our ideas. On a monthly basis, we challenged each other to write and be clear and focused. It was a challenge to coordinate our time zones from California to Tennessee. But we did it.
Our time together grew our trust as a group. We began to know each other’s strengths, weaknesses, vulnerabilities, and trials. We empathized and asked hard questions. When tragedy struck, we were there for each other. Our friendship deepened as writers.
3. Plan Reconnections
After three years, our meetups grew from a handful of insecure patrons to a confident gathering of trusted and familiar friends. Some of us met for the first time in person comparing the postage stamp facebook profiles with the live person.
“Oh, you look just like your picture.”
Or you’d hear phrases like, “Oh, that’s you? The one who. . .?”
However the greeting began, it would continue as, “I’m so glad to meet you.” We’re hugging, smiling, thanking, and connecting.Laughter is spontaneous, but relationships require intentional connections. Click To Tweet
4. Practice Conference Wisdom
Marsha Shandur, was the speaker who normalized our awkwardness as “dork goblins” when we meet new people. It was a brilliant and funny way to present what I do less brilliantly and funny for my clients in counseling sessions. She demonstrated her own quirks and how to respond to the insecure parts of ourselves. Give the insecure part a name. When it shows up, and take deep breaths when our bodies react to anxiety.
There were many highlights: speakers, meet-ups, books, networking, notes, gormet popcorn, chocolate, and conversations at the conference. It’s not just about learning new ways to think, and do, and be. It’s about the Tribe. It’s about ways to grow conference acquaintances into friendships.
Your Next Steps
- If you struggle with identifying your “dork goblin” ask for your free 20 minute consultation.
- Connect with me on Linked in or visit my Facebook page.
- Join me for the Conference in October, 2018