Yesterday I attended a women’s conference called the Power of the Purse in a nearby city about 90 minutes away. It was a day chock full of motivational speakers, videos that made us both laugh and cry, and opportunities to mingle and chat with people.
The theme of this event was near and dear to my heart – having goals, daring to dream big and do something about it, facing your fears and doing it anyway. This is a topic relevant to everyone regardless of age or gender.
I’m not a stranger to conferences – technical, industry-specific, general interest – but this one was different. In a stroke of synchronicity, this morning I read a blog post by Paardje at Snail Mail, Books & Vanities that suggested why I found this conference different.
This was a conference room filled with about 200 women (and 4 men), speakers, and a vendor market. I knew 3 people going into this room … I left feeling like I knew so many more.
At all conferences we are encouraged to ‘network’ – that thing most of us hate to do and in fact is rarely done except by the energetic few. Attendees normally stay in their familiar circles and don’t often break out of these comfort zones.
I’ve NEVER been to a conference where EVERYONE would so easily make eye contact, smile, and extend their hand in greeting. I can’t remember ever being so easily engaged in conversations – not pleasantries – actual conversations with complete strangers. I was even hugged – three times. HUGGED!
I know what you’re thinking … hugging isn’t for everyone, including me. I’m picky … but this was different.
I live in a big city. I live in a neighbourhood where I am a visible minority. My encounters on a typical day are usually pretty restrained, rarely enthusiastic. This was a new experience … and I decided I really liked it.
… because Paardje is right. Being smiled at is so refreshing.