From the moment I heard about the Influence conference, I knew I wanted to be apart of it. Even though I wasn’t able to go to the first conference because I was already booked to speak at a women’s retreat that weekend, I joined the network and planned to attend the following year. So on a Thursday in September 2013 my 5 month old daughter, mom and I boarded a plane from Winnipeg, Manitoba Canada and headed to Indianapolis, Indiana.
I went with an open and expectant heart, but also a lot of nerves. Even though I “knew” a few women who’d be there through blogging, I’d never met any of them in person. I wondered if I’d make strong connections, or any at all, and what people would think of me. It kinda felt like my first day of Jr. High! haha.
But then I got there and it even the faces that didn’t look familiar were friendly. It was so amazing to hug these women I’d been emailing with and following for the past two years and for our online friendships to be solidified in person. It was also fun to meet women I’d never heard of (and had never heard of me) and form new relationships as well. One of the women I met is now a dear friend and I’ll be rooming with her at Influence this year!
For me this weekend didn’t miraculously build friendships overnight, but it deepened many of the ones I already had, and jumpstarted a few amazing new ones. I know have the honour of being apart of the Influence team as the Classes Manager through the year, as well as a Community Leader at the conference. I’m pretty sure neither of those things would have happened had I not attended the conference.
So if you’re going for the first time, know that as long as you go open to connecting with new people, and willing to step out of your comfort zone, you will grow your online community. For some it may be an instant connection, and others, just the start of something that can grow through the year. Hope to see you there!
We’d love to hear your story of beautiful community, whether related to the conference, or another experience you’ve had. Link up and share your thoughts about community.