It is a strange thing to travel for work when your ‘work’ in this space includes attending conferences that allow you to learn, connect with friends you love, meet people face to face for the first time who you’ve known virtually for months or years and network with potential partners and clients who have a hand in growing your business exponentially.
It is a see-saw of give and take, commitment and reward. Every time you choose to leave your family, the business you are growing, you must weigh the cost, you must assess the potential benefits.
For more than seven years now, I have had this debate with myself multiple times a year – as conference times roll around – should I stay or should I go?
This time it was BlogHer 2014, but it is always an event I want to attend.
While at home, sitting in my office, surrounded by stacks of work, a full inbox, a slew of video that must be shot and edited, posts that must be written, clients that need my attention, deadlines that need to be met, children that require feeding, taxiing, uniform cleaning, cheering on at sporting events, hugging, love and attention, my heart urges me to stay put.
The financial commitment is not a marginal one. At first glance you think conference ticket, flight and hotel – all of which can be minimized if you are speaking at most events, live within driving distance or are sharing a room with a friend. But there are also taxi fares from airports, to and from meals, meals themselves that may not be included, and of course the odd coffee or cocktail as you meet up with people.
But before you stack the deck against yourself, feeling overwhelmed by the costs – to your time, your family and your wallet, consider something I firmly believe:
There is no substitute for showing up.
There is no substitute for investing in yourself.
There is no substitute for hugging a long time friend, for looking her in the face and allowing her very specific form of inspiration and kindness to flow from her heart to yours.
There is no substitute for sitting in a room full of your people: the ones who get you – who understand your hours, your workload, your writer’s block, your form of pay structure, your clientele, your insides and your outsides.
There is no substitute for putting a face with a name after three months or three years.
There is no substitute for the partnerships that can be formed in the hallways, the expos, the coffee shops, the lobby bars and the late-night gab sessions over cupcakes and wine.
There is no substitute for meeting someone new, forging a new connection, understanding how someone new operates, owns their space, wins on their platforms.
There is no substitute for reaching out to new contacts, in person, to showcase the very specific brand of you.
There is no substitute for the energy that exists when a bunch of like minds get together to exchange ideas.
Without fail, every conference I have attended over the course of the last seven years has paid for itself in some capacity. Not in the following week. Not always in the following month, but always within the following year. An introduction will turn into a paying campaign, a hug will become a partnership, someone I meet might send a message months later that turns into a book, an inspired late-night idea will become work that I do for months.
And more than all of this, inspiration.
From each event, from each conference, I walk away better. Better for the conversations, better for the ideas, better for the willingness of the women who surrounded me to share, to encourage to push and support. They offer nuggets of wisdom as we talk, they happily share.
I return home overwhelmed, but full. It is like being hungover with happy. I’ve learned over the years to allow the energy to settle, to write when I can, to do the work that is necessary and to settle in with my small people.
I know it isn’t possible to attend every event. And I would never recommend you do that either – the see-saw of commitment and reward must be weighed, but find the events that work for you….
And Show Up.
Show up for Inspiration.
Show up for Connections.
Show up for Your People.
Show up for You.