Can you believe that Unstoppable Women of Silicon Valley has hosted 112 meet-ups since November 2008? WOW!!! During that time, I've also MC'd the WOW Conference, lead several women's retreats, facilitated countless workshops, hosted & produced my own tv show and attended hundreds of events for my own personal growth. One thing I've learned through all of this is how to get the most value out of attending events. Here are 4 tips about how to get the most value out of attending meetups, workshops, conferences & retreats.
Tip 1: CLARIFY why you want to go to the event. What do you hope to get out of it? Are you looking to learn something new, to be inspired, to meet like-minded people, to have fun? Ask yourself, "how will my life change as a result of attending this event?” I suggest that you write down the answer to these questions in a notebook. Bring this notebook to the event so you can refer to it. The more clarity you have about why you want to go and what you hope to get out of going, you're more likely to get value out of the event.
Tip 2: CONNECT with the purpose of the event. You can do this by reading the description of the event. What is the purpose of the event? What are the advertised take-aways? How does the purpose and take-aways align with what you want to get out of the event? Read the bios of the presenter(s), check their websites and make a note of what intrigues you. Print out the agenda or take the event flyer/brochure with you to the event so you can refer to it.
CONNECT with yourself as you travel to the event. Reflect on what you want to get out of the event. Before walking in, take a few deep breathes and shake off any stress of the day. Affirm that it will be a rewarding experience and that you will get out of the event what you want, along with some surprising gems.
Once you arrive, make a point to genuinely CONNECT with other people. Introduce yourself and ask them what they are hoping to get out of the event - this is a great conversation starter. Make eye contact, smile and actively listen as you engage in conversation with others. In my opinion, the goal of connecting is creating a space for the each person to feel seen, heard, and valued. Hold off on passing out your business cards unless it is asked for.
CONNECT to the information shared by listening attentively, asking questions, taking notes and talking with others. If you are an avid notetaker, bring different colored pens to help you organize your notes. Call me crazy but I never leave home without a highlighter!
Tip 3: COLLABORATE with others during the breaks. I remember going to conferences in Dallas, Texas several years ago. Some of my best learnings came while standing in line to order coffee. I was known for striking up conversations with the other women in line. I'd ask questions like, "What is one thing you learned in the XYZ session?" "How do you handle XYZ?" "What inspired you about XYZ?' Before you know it, we were having a mini workshop, sharing ideas, insights and contact info. Collaborating with others not only helps you connect with others and exchange information, it also helps you cement your own learning.
Tip 4: COMMIT TO ACTION. I always say, it's not what you know, it's what you do. Before leaving the event, write down 1-3 action steps you will take within the next 24 hours. Highlight or put a star next to these action steps so they stand out. Better yet, schedule them on your calendar. If you're up for a challenge, share your action steps with other people.
These are tips based on my experience. I’d love to hear your tips - share them in the comments below.
Shannon D. Silva, MBA is the Founder and CEO of Unstoppable Women of Silicon Valley. Her specialty is helping women achieve their work and wellness goals by transforming self-doubt into COURAGE and procrastination into DETERMINATION. She shares her message by facilitating Master Classes and Inner Circles through Unstoppable Women In Action.
Shannon is a Facilitator of The Virtues Project and Appreciative Living Learning Circles. She is professionally trained as a Certified Self-Discovery Coach and a Dale Carnegie speaker. She is the proud author of the book, “52 Ways to Practice Self-Care and Create More Joy in Your Life.” With a reputation for captivating audiences with her enthusiasm, authenticity and passion, Shannon is known throughout the community as a catalyst for joy, transformation and creative self-expression.
It’s easier to show up when you’re feeling unstoppable than it is when you’re feeling defeated. Wouldn’t you agree?
On Wednesday, Oct. 8th, I had a terribly upsetting day at work. I cried on my way to the meetup and thought, “I can’t let the group see me like this, I need to pull myself together. What will the group think of me?”
For those of you who attended the meetup, you might remember that I started crying as soon as I started talking to the group. “It’s been a really hard day,” I said, then I burst into tears.
In that moment, I remembered what Jenny (Program Director for UWSV) says, “Just show up!” She was right. Just show up as I am, this is a safe space for women. I realized that the best way for me to model showing up was to show up with my tears. Putting on a fake smile and pretending to like everything was great would have been out of integrity for me. I chose to show up with my tears.
Here are some benefits I discovered by showing up that night:
Shannon talking to UWSV
Have you experienced this to be the case? What else have you discovered by just showing up?
I want to stress that you need to practice discernment in how and where you show up. For example, if I was feeling emotionally vulnerable on my way to a job interview or a networking event, I’d have to ‘put my big girl panties on’, put my feelings on pause and take care of business. Afterwards, I would take the time to process my feelings.
Brene Brown summaries this concept beautifully, “Vulnerability is about showing up and being seen. It's tough to do that when we're terrified about what people might see or think.”
Now I ask you, are you willing to just show up?
- Shannon D. Silva
- you connect with others on a deeper level
- by being vulnerable, you allow others to be vulnerable too
- you open yourself to an emotional breakthrough
- you feel better