Invest in Yourself, Travel Outside Your Comfort Zone

I’m writing this as I wait for my first flight back to Canada from San Diego, sipping a glass of Rosé.  My flight doesn’t take off for another 3 hours, so I am taking this opportunity to document my journey over the past week in California, attending the Social Media Marketing World Conference.

I flew to San Diego last Tuesday and as I was in the cab to my hotel, all I could do is just gaze around, admiring the palm trees. This was my first trip to California and saying I was excited was an understatement.

If you’ve never been (or ever heard of) the Social Media Marketing World conference, let me break it down for you:

  • Hosted by the Social Media Examiner
  • Thousands upon thousands of people travel from all over the world to attend
  • Over 200+ speakers conducting workshops and presentations about the latest social media trends.
  • Every industry, profession and professional attends to learn and gain insight from the best

My business, Northern Ontario PR, is a public relations company and I help my clients gain more attention using public relations and social media tactics. One of my main focuses is training and coaching clients to leverage Facebook and Twitter for their business, so attending this conference was in my sights for the past two years. It’s absolutely an investment to commit to such an expense but I knew I had to be there in order to level up on my business for my clients. Last year, I purchased the virtual ticket to get a taste of the quality of content and after listening, that’s when I made the decision to actually attend the following year, no matter what. Hearing and seeing are two different things. And the best way I learn is attending in person and taking advantage of the time the speakers put into teaching the audience.

When I landed in sunny California, my heart and soul felt immediately full. Escaping the cold, snowy Canadian weather and being able to just walk around in sandals, shorts and a t-shirt in March made me extremely happy. I got to my hotel room, quickly changed and immediately hit the downtown streets of San Diego. I’m no stranger to travelling alone (as I’m quite the explorer when I’m travelling solo) and am certainly not afraid of asking for help when I need it, plus my business bestie (Leslie McDermid, The Social Launch)  was meeting up with me the very next day. Little Italy was literally around the corner from my hotel and it was already filled with people taking advantage of the night life. Since it was about 8:30pm at night and I was tired (with the time change it was almost midnight) I grabbed some dinner and went back to my room to unwind as the conference started the next day.

When I arrived at the conference, I was overwhelmed. There was so many people, I mean, A LOT. I was excited, nervous and happy to just get started.

For the next three days, it was jam-packed full of workshops and presentations from the best of the best. People I have been following, like Mari Smith, The Queen of Facebook, Chalene Johnson, Health and Fitness Expert, Social Media Guru,Amy Porterfield, Guy Kawasaki, just to name a few. (for the complete list – go here). By the end of each day, I was exhausted but excited for what I wanted to implement into my business and for my clients. There was also a number of networking opportunities throughout the week, such as large events, table talks, after conference drinks, to meet and mingle with other social media professionals and speakers.

I met a few new people from different parts of the world who were in the pr profession, looking to start a business, who wanted to feature me in an upcoming podcast of theirs or were just looking to network and learn with others. It was a great experience and opportunity to meet other like-minded professionals looking for growth.

Affording to attend this conference doesn’t come easy but I’m eager to get back home to start implementing what I’ve learned and gained. Every dollar spent was surely worth the investment, and more. I even said after the first day that it was worth every dollar and I would have spent more.

A few of the biggest takeaways I’d like to share with you are:

  • Being your true self online will always lead to growth in your business – but it doesn’t happen fast – you need to have patience and consistency.
  • You can start from nothing and build something from it.
  • There is no right or wrong on social media – try it and see what works for you
  • Live video is hot right now – leverage it
  • Facebook ads work – capitalize on it

If you’re like me and you’re a social media junkie, I’d say definitely look into attending or at least start following some of the speakers. Keep in mind, none of the speakers get paid to be there, it’s purely an exposure exchange so they are providing the best information they have to help people who are their to learn and implement.

Attending these types of conferences can help you grow but only if you accept to take what you’ve learned and actually do it. It’s one thing to go, travel, explore, sit in a room and listen but what you do with that information is vital to the whole experience, otherwise, why spend thousands of dollars?

As I sit in Washington DC now, I find myself already looking to book my ticket for next year, along with other conferences around the world. As a new business owner (2 years in!), I want to take advantage of these opportunities when I can. However, it’s not always possible so there are other ways to learn such as online training, reading books, getting a local mentor and just learning as much as possible.

Couple things to keep in mind if you do attend a conference that is a couple days long:

  • You will be sleep deprived
  • Your eating plan may be a little off track
  • You will have to step outside your comfort zone to meet others

But, I promise, it will be worth it and you will become a stronger and better person. Sometimes you have to explore what else can be possible in order to grow, so get uncomfortable and do something that you didn’t think was possible in your long term growth and development personally and professionally.

If you want to learn more about the conference more in depth or about anything I discussed in this blog, please don’t hesitate to connect with me. I’m more than happy to share what I’ve learned with you.

Thank you for your time,

Michelle TenHave

YPA Chair


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