I used to write here quite a bit about the value of attending conferences—I traveled regularly and spoke at conference events a few times a year, and I think it can be an invaluable way to sort of improve your freelancing career on all fronts. Just by attending an event where you’re likely to meet potential clients and/or have time to brainstorm with colleagues, you’re increasing your own knowledge base and network of potential jobs. And if you speak at one of these events, you’re honing your presentation skills, adding to your resume, and hopefully becoming more comfortable as a leader in your field. And all of this is aside from the fact that a lot of us freelancers lead fairly solitary work existences, and it’s just a good idea to get out and spend some time with other people in a work environment now and then.
In short, there’s tons of good reasons to go to conferences, present at conferences, and just generally place value on getting dressed up every so often to face the world.
I had a good rhythm going there, for a while, and then I had to take some time away from work and tend to other things, and somehow it’s now been years since I went to a conference. It wasn’t entirely intentional. I just got away from it and then it felt hard to get back to planning for and carrying out the travel and such. But I’m finally getting back on that particular horse, next month.
Here’s the funny part: I’ve always like smaller conferences over larger ones—I can get overwhelmed when at an event in a giant venue, and/or with tons of people—but somehow after two years kind of out of the game, I’ll be speaking at BlogHer. Not exactly a small, intimate setting. Whoops?
I’m nervous. It’s been a while, and BlogHer has grown to be a much larger conference than it was the last time I attended it, many years ago. I’ll also be speaking not about the business of freelancing or writing, but about what it means to speak out about something that really matters to you, which means that my reentry to the public speaking world is going to have me in front of an audience, talking not about the things where I feel confident and competent, but about a time in my life when I felt anything but. That’s scary. My fellow speakers in that session are women I admire tremendously and I feel quite a bit of (self-generated) pressure to be, I don’t know, as awesome as they are.
Baptism by fire always works out well, right? Right??
It will all be fine. I tend to be a “things work out the way they should” kind of person, and so I believe that perhaps this particular series of events and a rather challenging return to conference speaking like this may be exactly how it’s supposed to happen. And if not, well, I’m sure it’ll be an interesting experience, a learning experience, and a good way to find out what I need to be doing to get back on top of my game.
If you’ll be around at BlogHer, let me know? Friendly faces always welcome!