I don’t tend to go to conferences or blog workshops for several reasons. One is time, another is money, and the third is ROI on both time and money. I am a researcher and a do-er but unless there is engagement and interaction, I don’t tend to learn enough for a talk or conference to be worth my money and time. Add in the fact that I am extremely shy with strangers, and I don’t do small talk, the whole networking piece is lost on me.
This doesn’t mean I don’t go to conferences or talks, it just means I choose carefully. I force myself outside my comfort zone. As a mother, I see my children being challenged every day just by going to school and learning new things, so who am I to sit behind my computer and just do what I know.
Most recently I attended Home for the Holidays Boston (#HFTHBoston ) put on by Wayfair.com. This was my first event put on by one brand and I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed myself, met a few new people, and learned a great deal.
A few things that Wayfair did particularly well were: the program, the keynote, and the schedule.
In the program, was everything you could possibly need. From schedules to keynote bios and a directory of all the attendees with photos, social media links and blog links. This might be “old school” but having a paper directory of everyone is so useful. It allows me to keep it in my computer bag and pull out and interact with a few folks without having the connections online just fall down the social media black hole.
The keynote speakers were Heather Armstrong and Christiane Lemieux a perfect pairing. Whether the attendees wrote primarily about design, fashion, cooking, home, lifestyle we could all connect with the speakers in some way. We are all bloggers so @Dooce resonates with all of us. Christiane Lemieux brought in the design element which connected us to the brand, Wayfair, and the world of design. The format was also wonderful because rather than a speech or talk, this was done as an interview/discussion making the dialogue much more interesting.
At larger conferences, I often find myself hopping from session to session because I thought I wanted to learn about x, but then it turns out x was not that interesting because of the presenter so I wish I had gone to y. For #HFTHBoston, attendees were split into four groups and each group had their own schedule so that everyone did everything. There was “Mistletoe”, “Figgy Pudding”, “Polar Express”, and “Cindy Lou Who”. Even if you weren’t suited for each topic or activity, you could participate or watch, spend some time taking it all in, or check out your newest connection’s blog.
Tips from the day.