Now I have to admit right from the start that I was an Alt Summit virgin this year. Last year I had stalked my twitter + Instagram feeds to glean all I could from those who attended and I was fully prepared to do the same this year as well. I think somewhere along the line I had given into the notion that this conference was one I could attend from afar, but that my blog didn’t really fit into the niche of those who were attending. My concerns of “fitting in,” whatever that means, left me feeling like I belonged more as a wallflower than a participant. Well we all know I ended up heading to Salt Lake City with a little convincing from a friend and can I just tell you that I’m so glad I went!!?? I’m elated that I stepped out of the bubble in my head + pushed beyond all the insecurities that cause us to say no to things we should say yes too and went to Alt.
While I had an incredible time, being styled by Stitch Fix, ferviously taking notes at sessions and creating some of the most wonderful connections with people I never expected I would, there were several things I learned that I want to share with you. I’m hoping that if you’re on the fence about attending, that you will put Alt Summit at the top of your list for next year. Save your pennies because friends, this conference is worth every penny!
Don’t be afraid to be yourself
Will you connect with everyone? No, you won’t, but who cares. Conferences aren’t about making sure that you’re the one who collects the most business cards, or had the most over the top expensive outfits put together, it’s about building long lasting connections with people that you can continue to nourish once you get home. What good is 300 business cards in your bag when you roll out of the conference if when you get home you can’t even remember where you met all those people or who you want to follow up with? Take the time to meet people, but take even more time to find 5-8 real connections to foster. Most likely those are the connections that are going to turn into great friendships + lead to creative collaborations once you return home.
Take the time to learn from those who have already been there
One of the aspects of Alt Summit I loved so much was that they offered a variety of panels that appealed to a greater audience. I found myself debating which panel I wanted to listen to because there were so many great options. I’ve never been so grateful for twitter because it allowed me to follow key points from other panels, while I share + took notes in the ones I attended. Sometimes all it takes is hearing it from someone who has walked the road before you to give you the nudge you needed to make decisions you’ve been sitting on the fence on. One of my favorite panels was the Advanced Blogging panel. I remember sitting there as Susan from Freshly Picked began her section of the panel. Her words rang so true to me that not only was I compelled to go up and thank her after, but (like a dork) I broke down and cried as I shared my gratitude. She said things I needed to hear and help give me clarity about decisions I needed to make for my business to continue to help propel it forward.
Here are just a few things I tweeted from her panel:
- “You don’t need all your ducks in a row to push something out, all you need is a duck.”
- “Do what you do best, hire the rest of it out. Even if it’s a total stretch, it will make itself worth it.”
- “It takes years to get to your best creative work. Commit to doing a lot of work + you’ll close the gap to find success”
- “You cannot be the entrepreneur and the engineer for your own company.”
photo by Brooke Denis via
Do put time and energy into a creative business card
Am I trying to tell you to sew, stamp, imprint, overlay and glitter your card? No, but one things I learned while at Alt Summit is that putting energy + time into designing a creative business card helps you to be more memorable to those you meet. This year I traveled to the conference with 2 business cards, one for my blog and one for my biz. Never again. It all needs to be in one place. Starting to get nervous about your cards? Don’t be. Pop back soon because I’m collaborating with some awesome people to share our 5 KNOWS for creating a great business card for a conference.
The only risk is not taking a risk at all – Stefan Sagmeister
I can’t even begin to tell you how much this hit home with me. 7 months ago I was a retired school teacher who had, alongside my husband, made the sacrifice to stay home with our children. I had started blogger in 2007 as a way to connect with people who were in the same place in life I was, working to find their new identity as a new mom and not a working professional. Then last June an opportunity to build our very own agency was placed before me and before I even thought to question, I said yes, let’s do it. The road to building a successful agency has been an amazing one, but the bottom line is that we were taking a risk. I was risking missing out on pieces of my kids lives that I had taken for granted while we built the business, risking things not working out, risking a potential failure, but I truly believe that if I hadn’t been willing to take the risk that I would always look back on the last 7 months and wonder, what if.… I’m learning that I don’t want my life to be filled with what ifs.
Infuse your personality into everything you do – Jasmine Star
Jasmine’s session had to have been, hands down, my favorite session I attended. I wish I could store it in a box and bring it home with me so I could open it every so often + be reminded of all the wonderful things she said. It was like watching your favorite movie, you want to own it so you can watch it over and over for any little piece you missed. What I took away from her session is that everything that I do needs to be a direct representation of who I am. What I write, how I write it, who I collaborate with + how I want to be perceived. Here are some other great things Jasmine said:
- Take what you have + make it work
- Shake what your mama gave ya
- Showcase who you are, not what you do!
So, with all that said, here are my top 5 reasons why you need to come to Alt Summit with me next year:
- You’ll meet people in real life who understand what it means to be a blogger.
- You’ll have the opportunity to be stretched in wonderful ways.
- You’ll be exposed to some amazing brands who want to work with bloggers.
- You’ll get to devour some delicious food.
- You’ll walk away with so many great strategies for growing your brand.
So what do you say, will I see you there next year?
Oh and p.s. if you can’t wait till next January, be sure to check out Alt Summit NYC + Alt Summit San Fran happening later this year.
p.p.s I started a Pinterest Board of other recaps from Alt Summit 2013, so be sure to check it out.