A full house of 450+ women in Canadian agriculture at the 2015 Advancing Women Conference held October 5-6 in Toronto.
After attending a conference that is motivating and inspiring, the worst part is returning home. With these types of conferences that make you feel invigorated with new ideas and thoughts, there is always the dreaded 'hangover' a few days later. And not the 'hangover' your most likely thinking of. I'm talking about the 'idea hangover' of being loaded with so much information and feeling so inspired while your there and then when you return home you wonder, 'Now What' do I do with all of these ideas and energy I had at the conference?
Last week, I got to take in a conference in the sector I work in. Organizers behind the newly-created Advancing Women Conference brought together 450+ of the brightest women in the agriculture and food sector from 9 provinces and 3 US States. The energy in the room was infectious and of course, with all the chatter of that many women in one room, at times, it was hard to hear, but all for good reason. The networking and collaboration taking place, paired with the ideas being shared, was industry changing and something that is rare for women in agriculture to experience together as a group collectively.
The speaker line-up was experienced and diverse and provided thought-provoking presentations that made attendees think. I couldn't type fast enough at the time to capture all the one-liners and stories for Twitter let alone write notes down to reflect on later. The day and a half event really left a room of women feeling empowered to go out and change the sector that we work in. From producers to government officials, industry experts, senior executives and CEO's, the entire Canadian ag and food value chain was represented by a diverse group of women attendees (and some men in the room too, good for you guys!).
But back to the 'hangover' part. While great conferences motivate us and fill us with a wealth of knowledge, there is always the "Now What" after where many attendees struggle with questions like:
- What do I do with all the information I just learned?
- What can I do to keep the productive conversation going?
- How do I share that information within my industry or with others who weren't at the conference?
- How do I continue to connect with industry experts and other attendees I met at the conference?
- How do I help make positive change and implement some of the ideas I had at the conference?
- Do I have the time and energy to commit to starting a new project or pursuing a new idea if no one is there pushing me?
- If I made a commitment to myself at the conference to 'change' something about my personal or professional situation, how do I stay true to my word?
With social media and the opportunities now available online where we can connect virtually, there are many ways we can keep that amazing energy going, based on 8 ideas I've outlined below. Feel free to add your thoughts about how we continue to keep the 'magic' happening. It is a waste of time and money if you don't DO something with what you learned to help further your personal/professional situation.
8 Ways to Help the 'Now What' After a Conference:
- Network with Attendees- Connect back with those attendees you met who really resonated with you and keep them as a contact to network with regularly.
- Thank a Speaker - If there was a speaker who resonated with you, track down their email address or find them on social media and thank them for their ideas.. They may even have a blog or website that continues to share information that inspires you daily.
- Thank Conference Organizers - If you really enjoyed the conference and want to be further heard, email the Advancing Women Conference organizers and thank them for the work they did to help cultivate that type of atmosphere for attendees. You never know, they may even have a role for you at the next conference as a volunteer.
- Join an Industry Group - Research groups you could get involved with. They don't have to be women-specific but there are some awesome Women in Ag networking groups across Canada including Ag Women's Network in Ontario and Women in Ag in Saskatchewan to name a few.
- Have Your Say & Be Heard - Write that opinion piece for a local newspaper that you've always wanted to write or speak at a local organization in your hometown to talk about what matters most to you. If you don't speak up, you won't be heard.
- Attend another Conference- Make plans to attend other conferences if you have the time and opportunity to attend. There are MANY amazing conferences out there and I always enjoy going to various types of conferences to meet a wide range of people both AG and Non-Ag. Coming up are two awesome conferences for women in Ag - the Manitoba Farm Women's Conference & Atlantic Farm Women Conference in Nova Scotia.
- Think about Job Opportunities - If your thinking that now may be the time to pursue a new job, look at the list of attendees that was provided and reach out to someone in an organization you may be interested in.
- Pursue that Passion Project- If you ever thought of starting a blog, writing more on your existing blog, volunteering for an organization, becoming a speaker or pursuing a project or idea That has always been at the back of your mind and waiting for a ‘rainy day’, use this conference as the platform to start NOW. Don't take for granted what you know and how passionate you are about what you do. That is why 'The Passionate Voice' was started!
Go out and finally tackle that project you've been wanting to for some time. And as I take my own advice, look forward to hearing more from me on this blog as I share more of my experiences both personally and professionally and continue to pursue my passion project at 'The Passionate Voice' because that is what I am committing too as my "Now What" project.