I just returned from the NAWBO WBC, which is the Women’s Business Conference sponsored by the National Association of Women Business Owners. What an experience! This is my second year attending (last year it was in San Antonio, this year in Columbus), and I certainly felt better prepared to navigate with my best business and personal interests in mind.
Here’s what I learned – in no particular order!!!!
- I recharge my batteries by having alone time . . . and conferences are designed to be go, go, go from sunup to sundown (and then some). I needed to build in a couple of spots throughout the conference where I could just get away, recharge, and return. Otherwise, I’m too fried to completely connect.
The most beneficial experiences are just outside my comfort zone. This year, 14 people from the NAWBO Cleveland Chapter also attended the WBC. I know these women. I like these women. So, of course, I want to spend the “networking and social” time with these women! They are awesome! (And familiar … i.e. safe.) However, this was a conference with attendees from all over the world. When I “forced” myself to eat at a table of strangers I met some really interesting people … and possibly my next client.
- I have a great support system! Because of some of the connections I made at the 2015 WBC, I was able to moderate a round table this year. (HUGE deal in my mind, to moderate a round table at a National Conference! Not going to lie – I lost sleep a couple of nights. A big shout-out to my coach Mary Cravets who continued to remind me “I could do this”!) Here’s what I now know . . . moderating a round table is like having a conversation with 10 successful women business owners . . . not scary at all! AND having a client at your round table is priceless. (Keep reading to find out why!)
- As business owners, we know that we do business with people we like, know, and trust. Plus, we are way more likely to do business with people we are referred to. After the round table portion ended, participants were able to share their experiences to the room as a whole. My client stood up, and in front of a full room took the microphone and gave a heartfelt testimony to our work together. I was flattered, floored, and honored! In 20 seconds, he brought more visibility and credibility to my business than I had received in two years of attending this conference. Plus, I received shout-outs in two additional breakout sessions throughout the conference from other very successful business women!
- “We are all busy.” This theme was woven throughout most of the general and breakout sessions. As women (remember this was a women’s conference), we have so many things to do, and we get it all done. Once again, I’m affirmed that the switch in my business from Time Management to Building Capacity is right on target with today’s world. We ARE busy, and we DO get the important things done. We just can’t do ALL the important things we want! But when we build our capacity we can get MORE of the important things done.
So, now what?! It is certainly not too early for me to think about next year (which will be in Minneapolis). I realize I need to continue to build relationships with the people I met at conference this year, as next year they will be friends. I also need to figure out what “be opportunity obsessed” (this year’s conference theme) means to me – and create a plan to capitalize on those opportunities and the increased visibility I received at this year’s conference. Finally, I need to remember, though I’m a soloprenuer – I am most certainly NOT in business alone!
Your turn! Did this story spark any new awareness for you? What are your conference experiences? What advice would you like to share with me for next year? Post below!