Reflecting On The She's Connected Conference 2011: I Went, I Saw, I Chickened out...#SCCTO
Well, it's been nearly a month since I went to the She's Connected Conference. Crazy how time flies in a blink. Seems like yesterday I was anxiously counting down the days leading up to the #SCCTO. I was pleasantly surprised to even get an invite. I am a novice blogger and don't have that many followers yet. None the less, I was looking forward to this sweet networking opportunity and a chance to get advice from the Panelists. Now I've had three weeks to reflect on the experience and this is how I've summed it up.
Day One: Registration, Intros, Networking, and Chickening Out.
I commuted to Toronto by Go Train and walked the 3 or so blocks to the Sheraton on Queen West. I very easily found where I needed to register once inside. Two ladies in line introduced themselves to me and said I looked familiar. Shaking my head, I told them my name and said; "I don't think I've met you before, I'm a blogger." Duh, we're all bloggers, I immediately regretted my dumb comment. Que the awkward silence, and my usual reaction to silly social goofs. I excused myself and bolted. Shortly after that I began to explore the Hall we would be meeting in to connect with Brands and Bloggers. There were a few people there, but I didn't know or recognize ANYONE. Suddenly I was gripped by fierce panic. Once again I bolted, ascended the escalator, and hid in the spacious bathroom. After about 45 minutes I realized that I was squandering my time away, gave myself a pep talk, and went back down to the big Hall.
By now the Hall was nearly packed. I realized I wasn't the only one there solo. And I found courage in the missions to seek out the many people I wanted to talk to after connecting on Twitter the last year or so. Sobey's had set up some shrimp appetizers and there were fruit and vegetable platters too. I was standing alone at the shrimp table, and was met very warmly and hugged by Donna Marie. If you don't know about this FAB lady, she is the co-founder of She's Connected.com. And has successfully presented this She's Connected Conference in Toronto for the second time (2010 & 2011). I encourage you to read more about her inspirational story. Donna Marie asked me if I was solo? Sheepishly I said; "Yes, I'm commuting alone. This is my second attempt to come into the hall. I just spent 45 minutes hiding in the bathroom." She immediately bee lined me over to another solo blogger, introduced us, and said; "Let's make sure Amy is taken care of today."
That changed my day. I didn't cling to my new found friend for the entire day, but that broke the ice for me, and I traveled around to meet the Brand Sponsors alone and occasionally with pairs of other bloggers. By the end of the day I was loaded with swag and regretted not taking the advice of a fellow attendee that I had chatted with on Twitter. A few of us were talking about packing and what to bring to SCCTO. I was advised to bring a rolling bag and thought that I would look silly bringing a suitcase because I wasn't staying overnight. Luckily The Bay was right across from the Sheraton, I walked over and bought a back pack on wheels. Thankfully, they had a 40% off luggage sale too, I only paid $27 for it.
Day Two: Panels, Networking, and Advice to Chew On.
The train ride into Toronto the next day was met with less nerves, though I had missed the 8am train and was late. I don't like walking into events late- feel like I'm being rude and don't want all eyes on me. Anyhoo, after getting a text message from my twitter pal @gingermommy, I found a seat at her table and tried to really soak in every discussion. The panelists offered a lot of advice and inspiration. There were "famous" bloggers and relative newcomers. Brand specialists and Marketing specialists. The panel that effected me the most included those that are using blogging to bring social awareness to charitable causes. They offered concrete examples of how we can use social media to project our voice to make a big impact on causes locally and around the world. I left the conference and had an hour train ride to reflect on the two days of informational and fun encounters. After using some of the advice to make some changes to my blogs, I have noticed a few differences in traffic and number of sponsor opportunities. I'd like to say a big thank you to all the fine ladies that made me feel welcome and showed kindness over the days leading up to SCCTO and the two days during. Thank you to the She's Connected team for extending the invite to join in with this prestigious group. I'm already looking forward to next years conference and hope I get to attend.
Have you ever said yes to something and wanted to chicken out after? Did you summon the courage to do it anyway or give in to your impulse to bolt like I did?