5 Reasons to overcome your fear of attending conference
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Over the last few weeks, we’ve heard from several bloggers about their experiences at the NAPO 2016 Conference. Previous posts in this series were:
- How to write your book and get it in the hands of readers by Kathy Vines
- NAPO 2016 Organizing Expo – Part 1 by Julie Stobbe
- NAPO 2016 Organizing Expo – Part 2 by Seana Turner
- Overcoming Photo Organizing Anxiety by Jodi Bart Holzband
Today we wrap up the series with a fabulous post by first-time attendee but long-time organizer, Jill Annis.
NAPO 2016 was the first organizing conference I have attended even though I started my business in 2002 and joined NAPO in 2004. Incredible, right?!
Attending the annual conference has been my goal since joining NAPO. The conference did not disappoint and I’m grateful for the experience.
Why did I wait so long to achieve my goal? Because of a 4-letter word you may be familiar with — FEAR.
If fear is holding you back from attending a conference, let me help you diminish your fears by sharing what I learned from my first NAPO Conference.
- Professional organizers are super friendly. Which is awesome since most conferences involve plenty of networking and new faces. I’m partly an introvert so this was my biggest FEAR, but I was pleasantly surprised to find I had nothing to worry about. I was among my peeps, 97 of which were first-time attendees. It was easy to start a conversation in the elevator, while standing in line for a latte, or waiting for a session to begin. Well-known experts in the field were just as welcoming. I found this to be true when author and founder of the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization (now I.C.D.) Judith Kolberg invited me to sit with her for breakfast. Thank you, Judith; your warmth and humor were appreciated! I was happy with my decision to book a single room at the conference site which provided a quiet place to retreat to when I needed a break.
- When you register, sign up to be matched with a NAPO Conference buddy. This is crucial if you are FEARful about navigating the conference itself. I signed up for a bud, even though a veteran conference attendee was traveling with me, because I didn’t want to monopolize her time. Buddies are NAPO conference pros who are willing and eager to share their insider tips. If you have a buddy you will have a go-to person for support and a person to grab a bite to eat with when you want a familiar face. Thank you to my fabulous bud, Andrea, and to Katherine my co-buddy from London.
- Check out the NAPO conference app before leaving home if you are FEARful about keeping your conference schedule, handouts, and a million other conference particulars organized. I didn’t realize how useful the app was until after the conference. During the conference I was too preoccupied to fully examine it. For example, the app has a list of attendees that can be sorted, searched, and messaged, which would have been useful for arranging meet-ups.
- FEAR of overwhelm was a major fear for me going in and common for most conference attendees. There are so many interesting break-out sessions to attend and plenty of cool ideas you’ll want to implement. Here is my advice: take breaks, skip a session if your head is starting to spin, meditate, exercise or leave the hotel for a bite to eat or site seeing. The number of times I left the hotel? … once for lunch! It felt too overwhelming to arrange an excursion but now I believe it wasn’t a smart choice. At the next conference I will enjoy more meals outside the hotel, as most meals are not provided with registration, and avoid post-conference overwhelm by listing 1-3 actions to take-away from each session and eventually implement.
- Lastly I FEARed the conference cost. It’s an investment in your profession but is it wise to block 3 days off my client calendar and spend a large sum of money on my business? The answer is YES! I feel recharged and have some new tools and skills to pass along to my clients. The networking opportunities were priceless.
Take your organizing business to the next level. Determine your cost to attend, including airfare, meals and lodging and then start budgeting for NAPO 2017 now.
Jill launched Simply Organized, LLC in 2002, joined the National Association of Professional Organizers in 2004, and is a weekly columnist for the Wisconsin State Journal. She lives in Madison, Wisconsin with her husband, their daughter, and a black lab who barks too much.