Hint of Hustle with Heather Sager

My Top 10 Pro Tips for Attending Events & Conferences

December 13, 2022 Heather Sager Episode 179
My Top 10 Pro Tips for Attending Events & Conferences
Hint of Hustle with Heather Sager
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Hint of Hustle with Heather Sager
My Top 10 Pro Tips for Attending Events & Conferences
Dec 13, 2022 Episode 179
Heather Sager

Events are back—and there’s nothing that compares to the energy in a room filled with creative, ambitious and like-minded people. It’s my love language in business (and that’s saying a LOT as an introvert!)

When deciding whether or not to attend an event, most people focus on the question “what will I learn?”, but today I want to encourage you to think differently about investing your time, money and energy by attending events. 

I’m sharing with you 5 event attending perspective shifts to calculate your ROI, plus my top 10 pro tips to help you get the most out of them. These are the things I learned from 20 years of managing and attending events. I hope that this conversation is meeting you at just the right time and gets you excited to put some of these things in action in 2023.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Why event content is the last consideration for whether or not you attend
  • How to overcome the “I’m awkward and don’t know how to talk to people” moment
  • What ROI actually looks like as an entrepreneur attending conferences
  • The accessibility factor you might be missing and how to foster inclusion
  • What to do when you don’t feel like you belong at an event
  • My 10 Pro Tips on Attending Events and Conferences 



Support the Show.

🔗 Grab the latest FREE resources: https://heathersager.com/start

🔗 Browse all episode shownotes: https://heathersager.com/blog


Work with Heather: https://www.heathersager.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/theheathersager/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/HeatherSager

If you’re loving this episode, please take a moment to rate & review the show. This helps me get this message to more people so they too can ditch the hustle 24/7 life.

Show Notes Transcript

Events are back—and there’s nothing that compares to the energy in a room filled with creative, ambitious and like-minded people. It’s my love language in business (and that’s saying a LOT as an introvert!)

When deciding whether or not to attend an event, most people focus on the question “what will I learn?”, but today I want to encourage you to think differently about investing your time, money and energy by attending events. 

I’m sharing with you 5 event attending perspective shifts to calculate your ROI, plus my top 10 pro tips to help you get the most out of them. These are the things I learned from 20 years of managing and attending events. I hope that this conversation is meeting you at just the right time and gets you excited to put some of these things in action in 2023.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Why event content is the last consideration for whether or not you attend
  • How to overcome the “I’m awkward and don’t know how to talk to people” moment
  • What ROI actually looks like as an entrepreneur attending conferences
  • The accessibility factor you might be missing and how to foster inclusion
  • What to do when you don’t feel like you belong at an event
  • My 10 Pro Tips on Attending Events and Conferences 



Support the Show.

🔗 Grab the latest FREE resources: https://heathersager.com/start

🔗 Browse all episode shownotes: https://heathersager.com/blog


Work with Heather: https://www.heathersager.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/theheathersager/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/HeatherSager

If you’re loving this episode, please take a moment to rate & review the show. This helps me get this message to more people so they too can ditch the hustle 24/7 life.

[00:01:54] Well, hey friend, welcome back to another podcast episode. I am so excited to talk about [00:02:00] today's topic of attending live events and more specifically, how to make the most of attending live events. I don't know about you, but I frigging love in-person, conferences, retreats, getting in the room with other human beings.

[00:02:15] It is my favorite thing for so many reasons. I produced corporate events, multimillion dollar corporate events for more than a decade. It's my love language in business. I think it's the best container for learning and personal growth and transformation. I mean, I can make a lot of arguments for this, but my goal in today's conversation isn't to convince you that you need to attend an event next year.

[00:02:36] I would imagine if you listen to the show, you probably already have the desire to attend events and probably speak on stages at events, but my intention for this episode is to talk to you around how I approach a attending events as an attendee, not as a producer, not as a creator, not as a speaker, but how I approach it as an attendee because I [00:03:00] think the return that you get on your time investment and your actual monetary investment of event, it really is determined by you, that that return you get to determine what you get out of that. And I think, I mean, having attended so many different programs, I definitely have had more experiences where I have been very intentional about gaining a return. And I've also had a lot of experiences, honestly, where I phoned it in and went in kind of going, I don't know what I'm gonna get out of this and I didn't get a lot and it wasn't because of the person running the event, it was actually coming back to me and lack of intention. So today I wanna give you some insights around how I approach attending events. This, as I said is based off of, I mean, years of experience of being on the other end of producing conferences for entrepreneurs and professionals.

[00:03:49] This year alone, I was looking through it. With the world opening backup. I was so excited to travel again this year. I spoke on stages, hosted our first ever event here at The Speaker Co and then attended events. So I was on an airplane almost every month in 2022 and I loved almost every single moment of that. I attended events that were bonuses of programs and masterminds I'm in. I attended events that had application processes. I attended low ticket events that had a ton of speakers on stage. I attended events that had a huge upsell on stage. I saw a lot of different types of events this year and this episode isn't about my experience at those events.

[00:04:30] If you wanna hear more about Emily and I talking about our experience attending a conference we went to in June. We did a full debrief of Craft and Commerce which is ConvertKit's annual creators event which is super cool. That was back in June, so you can scroll back to that episode. But this episode today, I wanted to share with you my attitude around events and just how I approach it from an intention perspective. What I'm looking for, some of the insights and potential shifts that you might want to take on for yourself, if they feel good for you, around how you can get the most from conferences. And then I'm gonna give you today, I wrote this out cuz I'm like, what if I were to give somebody advice for how really freaking get the most like, phenomenal experience and just kick ass in an event, like what would I tell someone? I wrote down my top 10 tips that I do. They're kind of like my travel hack slash event attendance, little pro tips that I do. I'm gonna share this with you in this episode so this is not gonna be a long one today.

[00:05:30] It's gonna be a mild debrief but I just wanted to share with you what was on my mind since it was fresh, since I just got back from travel, and quite frankly, I'm probably gonna need this reminder for myself as I go into next year because I plan on attending, I mean, just as many events in 2022 and, or at 2023.

[00:05:46] And, Emily and I are still trying to figure it out, but I'm very like, hopeful that we're going to host a The Speaker Co. Event in 2023. So, friend, can I ask a question of you, favor? If you would be interested in attending a Speaker Co. Conference in 2023, would you shoot me a direct message on Instagram @theheathersager?

[00:06:08] You know how to get ahold of me by now, the links in the show notes if you need it, but @theheathersager, send me a note on Instagram and let me know if you would be interested, excited, any degree of attending some kind of Speaker Co. Conference. We are considering doing one next year in the fall, but we wanna get some feedback first before we host it, anyways.

[00:06:30] Okay. That's all I'll say on that. Let's talk about some of the insights I've had around just attending an event. So most people, let's just be real. Most people when they attend conferences are thinking about, okay, who's hosting the event? What am I gonna learn? Like what's the point of this conference?

[00:06:45] Like, what am I gonna learn? What am I gonna get out of this? And a lot of times people think about events as what's the content on stage? Who's the teacher? Who's the trainer? What specifically am I gonna learn? Because they're approaching ROI around, okay, what's the thing I'm gonna know how to do when I leave?

[00:07:03] And the big shift that I really want to to encourage you to have that was difficult line to get out of my mouth. Words, words are hard today. But the shift I want you to make is it's really, people don't attend events or in my opinion, you shouldn't attend events thinking of it as a training. An event is typically not a training where you're gonna go, how to learn a very specific tactical skill.

[00:07:29] And if that's your goal for going to an event, honestly take an online course or watch YouTube video. You're probably gonna have higher success cuz you could be way more focused and slow it down or pause it and do the thing in tandem. So, training is a piece of event's content and the what you hear on stages, it's a piece of it, but live events are less about the content and they're more about the connection.

[00:07:54] Live events are less about the content and they're more about connection. And so if you have this reference point going into the event, you will be far more successful with your results afterwards. So when we say connection, I'm not talking just about the connection that you have with the company hosting it or if it's a individual person, that connection you have with that host or with the speakers on stage. That is one connection that you build. But I know you're smart and I know you already know this, but I have to say it, the connections you build with the other people sitting next to you in the room, some of those powerful connections you can build in your business. Those are your future collaborators.

[00:08:31] They could be your future joint venture partnerships. They could be future contributors to your content, to your podcast, to your blog. They could be people who could be promoting your products and services. They could be your future buyers. The people in the room, there's so much power in that. Quite frankly, I attend so many events because they're business development opportunities.

[00:08:55] They're branding opportunities. The more that I can get our name, The Speaker Co. Out there, the more I can get my name out there, the more that I can be talking about what it is that we do here at the Speaker Co., helping people get their message out into the world. That's more branding, that's more visibility, that's more people talking about me and quite frankly, I always meet potential clients at these conferences. So the question is, is the same true for you? 

[00:09:17] Now, depending on your niche, maybe you are not in the business to business realm, like I am or like business coaches or Instagram coaches or whatever else, maybe you're more in a business to consumer and attending a business conference isn't gonna be a client finding event for you. Okay, well, that, you don't have to use it as that, but the other people in the room could be, they could be incredible people to learn things from, to bounce ideas from. Maybe somebody else has done a launch or done a tactic in their business which something they've been thinking about, or maybe they've experienced something in their life or business which is something that you're going through now.

[00:09:51] You never know who the people in the room, like what experiences that they have. So shifting from, when I evaluate events, it's not about what's on the docket for content. I look at that, but what I really am looking at are who are the types of people that are going to be there and are they people that I wanna be hanging out with that I wanna be connecting with?

[00:10:12] Are those valuable connections and value? Again, it doesn't have, are these potential customers? That could be a facet of it, but more so are these people that you can connect with and is there value in that relationship? The other thing to think about when it comes to events is if you want to, let's say in your business, you've been moving along and you're hungry for that next level, the best way for you to like catapult into that next round of growth for yourself whether that's you've plateaued at a certain revenue point, or maybe you're starting to get kind of restless with the process that you're following or you're wanting like you need something new or you know, there's points of business where you go into a lull and you're not feeling very energized or excited.

[00:10:56] The best way for you to bring more energy and vibrancy into your business is to change your environment. Now, I don't know about you, but I can't do a whole like home edit style revamp in my office or my home every time I'm feeling that way, but what I can do is get my tush into rooms that have great energy, into rooms where there's a really good playlist and there's people that are excited and eager to learn and happy, doing big things. They're also in pursuit of growth, whatever that looks like for them. So for me, when I know I need to change, when I know I'm getting antsy, when I need to have, I just, I need something new. I need something different. I'm ready for that next level for myself, for my business, I focus on changing my environment and the fastest way for me to do that is to get into more rooms.

[00:11:46] So that's a big reason of why I attend events. So for you, if you've been feeling a little, maybe just a little ble or a little uninspired or a little just meh. Think about, you probably can attend an event in the next couple weeks 'cause we're entering the holidays, but are there some virtual rooms that you can put yourself in?

[00:12:03] Can you show up to some different virtual summits or are there, and even if it's virtual, like a podcast, right? You know this, right? You get a really good podcast in your ears. It changes, it changes your mind in a positive way. You start thinking differently. You get excited again. You're like, yeah, that's what I need to work on.

[00:12:20] Now imagine that that inspirational message was surrounded in a different physical space. It changes how you think about things. So you gotta think about how this works. Now for you, you might be not, if you're feeling this way right now, like I said, might not be able to get into an event right now when you're feeling on demand, but that's why I attend events at least every quarter.

[00:12:40] That's why I'm constantly putting myself in those rooms because I anticipate that creative lull that happens in entrepreneurship. So I want you thinking about that next year, how can you be changing your environment to help be the catalyst for a change in energy for yourself? Be thinking about that. The third thing I wanted to mention is getting in the rooms.

[00:13:02] You know, a lot of people say that the secret to success is getting yourself in the right rooms. I don't know, I don't know if people actually say that in that phrasing. I really summarized on that, but you've heard that like the idea before, right? Get yourself in the right rooms. Now, I don't know about you, but I've heard this before and it was always interpreted as get in the right rooms because you wanna make the connections with the people who have influence, right?

[00:13:25] We think about getting the right rooms and we all think about, okay, how do I like make the connections with people that are at a higher level with me? How do I make connections with those people who are more influential, who have more clout, who have more connections? And here's the deal. Yes, you could make connections with people with great influence, but honestly it's, for me, it's less about making those connections with the quote unquote fancy people and more about getting into a room that's going to push my thinking.

[00:14:03] It's going to help me be acutely aware of where I'm at with my energy. It's more about getting into rooms with people who have similar ambition as me. So this, you can see this is waterfall effect of the other things I was talking about. So it's not about the content, it's about connection.

[00:14:19] The environment helps you change your energy. Getting in the right rooms helps you connect with people that have similar ambition to you. It's all compounding on top of one another. These are the things we wanna be thinking about. When you invest in an event, you really are investing in being part of a community, even if it's just a day or two days or three days.

[00:14:38] That is a community that you're in and we all know that the people we surround ourselves with really is a determinant of how successful we're going to be, right? If we're around successful people, if we're around ambitious people, the likelihood of us also being successful and staying hungry and ambitious is pretty high.

[00:14:55] If we're surrounding ourselves with people who are fine with mediocre, that are fine with being lazy, who are fine with complaining about the world or what's not working, if we're surrounding ourselves with people who are negatively talking about what's wrong in online marketing or why it's so hard to grow your list or why right now ads are so expensive or why it's so hard, if we're constantly in conversations with people who are talking about negative things or pointing to the problems, what's the likelihood that you're gonna be focused on solutions? What's the likelihood that you're gonna lean into that ambition and work your tail off regardless of what surround you to get those results? So you see here, getting in rooms is why I love events so much is that you get in a bubble.

[00:15:44] You get in a bubble and we get really positive about possibility. And some might say, well, that's not realistic. I don't know about you, friend, but I don't wanna be realistic. I want to go out and create something incredible. So I love the bubble of, I don't know, dumbness that happens at events and I say that in a funny way.

[00:16:04] I don't mean like we're dumb, dumb, right, but we're like wishful dreamers and all of a sudden possibility just seems so possible when you're in a room with other dreamers. That's what I want for you. That's why I keep attending events over and over and over again. Going to one event a year is not enough for me.

[00:16:22] I need that hit, I need that high, more and more. This all, all this coming in and another thing that that comes up to mind, all of this is coming down to you essentially determine your ROI for event. Now one of the things, working with people that are a little bit more analytical, I used to work in the medical space and our clients that would be coming to our events were very analytical doctors.

[00:16:45] They were always thinking like, what's the return on my investment? If I invest $400 for a ticket, what can I capture? So we would put up case studies and do these calculations to help people say, okay, this is on average what people make come into the event, what they [00:17:00] earn on the backend. We had that ability to do that because at my old company, we actually help people with their business and their finances and their operations and all those things.

[00:17:08] But for you, no event planner or no company is gonna tell you what your ROI is cuz they don't even know what your financials are in your company. And the thing is, when it comes to events, it's not always about a financial return. You're gonna pay a price for a ticket most likely but there's also the investment of time.

[00:17:26] There's the investment of you pretty much shutting down your business for the four days for you to attend that event or whatever the length is. There's the investment of you being away from your family, away from your friends, away from your normal routine and your normal habits. So the question is, so how do you calculate a return on all of those investments you make?

[00:17:46] And the answer is, it's totally up to you. .At the end of the day, you get to determine what the return is from your event because while you might take away some more knowledge, as I mentioned before, connections are so powerful. What is the value of one connection that could turn into a introduction to a key opinion leader in your industry that could open up the doors to, oh my gosh, like a flood of leads?

[00:18:12] You never know who you're gonna meet at an event. So staying open to possibilities is really important but also being open that that ROI might not be a lead. It might not be a financial connection. It might be one fricking little nugget of information that can free you from, let's say, a business decision that you have been going on and on and on about, resisting making a decision on for months.

[00:18:39] Maybe one thing that a speaker said from a stage gave you more clarity than anything else you'd been doing the last six months and you finally made a decision. I'm in the ROI of not having to labor over that decision over and over again anymore. That's really powerful. I think there's so many different ways for you to create a return on investment, but here's the one thing I know. I have produced, as I mentioned, I have produced a lot of events. I've hired a lot of speakers ranging from speakers at the 2000, $4,000 price point up to speakers north of a hundred thousand dollars for a 45 minute keynote. I've worked with John Maxwell, Jim Collins. I work with Sharon Lecter, Kindra Hall, Phil Jones.

[00:19:22] I've worked with a gamut of speakers and we've produced conferences with 75 breakouts happening. We've produced conferences in Las Vegas, in Palm Springs, in Washington, DC, in Boston, and Baltimore, in Orlando all over the freaking country. I've hosted events in Cabo, I hosted events in Denmark, all over the globe.

[00:19:42] I've hosted events in English, in Spanish, in Danish, like I've run events, y'all, I don't know if you know this about my background, but you know it now. I've been around the block. And at these events, thousands upon thousands of people have come through our programs and this is not at The Speaker Co. We hosted our first event here this year.

[00:19:59] I'm talking about my prior job in corporate. Our team produced a crap ton of events and I was the head of that department. Now, I tell you this, because of having thousands of people, thousands of people come through these events, and I'm reading thousands of post-event surveys, I can tell you this with absolute certainty.

[00:20:18] The people who talk about the event being blah, the event being, eh, I don't know, like it was terrible, or whatever kind of negative or moot medium feeling about the event, I can guarantee you these are people who go in with very low limited expectations around what they're gonna get out of it. It was the people who crossed their arms and sit back and say, you wow me, like, you better, you better bring it. I dunno what you're gonna bring it, but you're gonna bring it. People who go in with meh intentions, get meh results, but the people who go in with a good attitude saying like, I'm gonna really get something from this. [00:21:00] I'm here, I'm present, I'm like gonna, I'm gonna, I'm gonna commit fully to this even if they're skeptical, but they're open to it. Those are the people who are like, oh my gosh, this changed my life. Our intention directly determines our perception of the outcome. Our intention directly determines our perception of the outcome because you and I both know that we, have you ever read reviews on Amazon for a book or even like reviews?

[00:21:31] I have a bad habit of, going to IMBD, you know that internet movie data base? I think that's what it's called but I always wanna know what kinda what, when I'm watching a movie, what do other people. I don't know why, like I don't obsessed with this, maybe I'm the only one on the planet who does this, but I like go to IMBD

[00:21:47] I don't even know if that's a place people go anymore. This is very mid 2000, like mid 2000, like six. It was cool to go on IMBD. It's like the yellow, yellow app. You know what I'm talking about? Anyways, I always go on and I'm fascinated to [00:22:00] know like, do people love it or do people hate it? Like, no one's ever medium about a movie or a book. They're never like, oh, it was fine. It's either they loved it or they hate it. Those are the people who leave reviews, right? And what's fascinating to me is the same movie or the same book could have such drastically different review. On one hand, you have somebody saying, oh my gosh, this was like the best movie or book that my eyeballs have ever laid eyes on.

[00:22:30] Oh my gosh, the blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, whatever they say, right? Hallmark movie, Christmastime, her pee coats were so fabulous. Is that just me? It's a time of season right now. It's a season of pea coats. They always have the best coats on Hallmark movies. Christmas time. I don't know, weird tangent. All right, but on the on literally, you go to the next review and the next person is saying how, like, literally the worst thing I've ever laid my eyes on. Like, same movie, two totally different [00:23:00] reviews. Now the question is, who's right? Well, both of them now. Neither of right, neither is wrong, right? These are all opinions, but coming back into events, you and I both know that two people can sit at a conference and the same thing happens. One person can say, oh my gosh, that was life changing.

[00:23:18] And the other person's like, you freaking serious? That was so freaking lame. They made me dance. They made me dance. It was terrible. And the other person's going, oh my God, I love like, ah, they made me dance and it was weird and I loved it, right? It all comes back to our attitude. Our attitude which stems from what our intentions are when we walk into the room.

[00:23:39] So if we go in with our arms crossed, saying like, I'm just gonna see, I mean, imagine somebody taking your online course with that kind of like bitchy attitude. I just, I'm just gonna see what Heather's gonna teach me. I'm just gonna wait for her in to wow my socks off, like having somebody come into a course like that. I mean, your job isn't to like, prove them. Prove to them that you're competent and your content's good, right? Your content or your goal is to get them results. But if somebody comes in with kind of a meh attitude, what's the likelihood that you are going to turn that meh attitude into that having them be a happy human. No, like you, we start with good intentions.

[00:24:18] We start with, I'm here to learn. I'm here to connect. I'm here to change my life. I'm here to grow. I'm here to be open. I'm here, whatever the intention is, but I want you to hear me loud and clear. If you're the kind of person who's mildly skeptical and you're kind of like, wait and see. I'm gonna challenge you.

[00:24:37] When you attend an event, you gotta put an intention on it and say, my intention here is to learn. My intention here is to contribute. My intention here is to gain something that will have an impact on my life and in my business. That impact doesn't come from the person on the stage or the people passing out the lanyards. That result comes from you. You were the only person that can determine your experience at that event because the experience happens between your ears. It's what you're thinking about and what you connect to and what you grab onto with the content and the people that you connect with at that conference.

[00:25:13] I just have to go off on that tangent for a moment because it is so freaking important that you own how you experience consuming content or attending events. That on you, my friend. That is totally and completely on you. My last insight here around events that I'm gonna give you, my top 10 list for how to rocket when you attend event.

[00:25:33] But here's this insight and this one is a weird one, but I had to talk about it and okay, it's this. When you attend an event, I don't know if it's just me, but when you attend event, there's always gonna be a cool kids' group. And I don't know if you're gonna be part of it or not, I certainly am typically not in that group.

[00:25:51] But there's always gonna be the group of people who all seem to know each other, who all seem to be super comfortable, who all seem to belong there and you, like me, might feel a little like, I don't know that I belong here. I don't really know anyone. I'm here alone. I'm an introvert.

[00:26:07] I'm super awkward. If you're like me, I have a hearing loss. I talk about this all the time. I freaking struggle attending live events, y'all. I email the event host in advance. I try not to be a nuisance. I'm like, look, I need to have a chair in the center of the room. Otherwise, I won't be able to hear. I have to advocate for myself.

[00:26:23] I advocate for myself hard to make sure that I, with an invisible disability, I can actually be included. No. Okay. I'm gonna go on a side tangent here. At this event I went to this last weekend, which side note, their team was phenomenal with accessibility, phenomenal making sure that people feel included.

[00:26:38] The challenge is this, many people like me who have an invisibility disability don't actually know that it, they have to raise their hand and request help if. I don't know if you've ever met anyone with a hearing loss, somebody in your family or someone you know wears hearing aids, just because we wear hearing aids, it does not mean that we can hear all the time. Hearing aids don't put your hearing back to a perfect state.

[00:26:59] It's still a struggle to hear. It is still very, very hard for me to hold a conversation, especially in a ballroom when there are hundreds of other people. I mean, think about in a ballroom and they send you off to a breakout session and they tell you, talk to your neighbor for a couple minutes. It's hard for the average person to hear, but for somebody with a hearing loss, with or without hearing aids, it is almost impossible.

[00:27:19] It's almost impossible. So, side note, one of my personal missions when I attend a conference is anybody I see with hearing aids, cause I can see them and we all can see them, but I pay attention. I notice them. I walk straight after that person and say, what are you wearing? And I show them mine, I show 'em my hearing aids and I say, Hey, not to be creepy, but have you advocated for yourself?

[00:27:36] Do you have priority seating? And they look at me in awe and say I can do that. I say hell yes. So side note, if you know somebody who needs to have priorities seated at a conference, whether they have a hearing loss, maybe they have something going on with their eyesight, they have maybe something going on with their processing in their brain, I don't know, whatever that situation is, you know, it's you or you know, of someone who needs to have a little additional level of support to be able to function as a quote unquote normal human in a conference.

[00:28:07] Can I just give you a big squeeze and tell your friend? Advocate for yourself. You are not putting anyone out. You are not taking advantage of any situation. You email them in advance and you let them know the situation and legally they will accommodate you. They have to. They have to. And the good companies, and it's been everyone that I've gone to this year, they go out of their way to make you feel comfortable and that you belong there and that you're included.

[00:28:31] Now sometimes you have to remind them, sometimes you have to go early and you have to go find your seat and remind them to hold it for you all day but that's one of those things. Side note, sorry. Accessibility is something's very important to me. It's something that I've noticed attending events this year that I need to be talking more openly about because most people forget that I do have a disability because it's invisible.

[00:28:51] You and I, you don't see my hearing loss. I don't know what your association with hearing losses is, what you expect someone with hearing loss to sound like or look like or [00:29:00] whatever that is, but most people forget, but it's my job to talk about it more so that we can all do our part of helping people feel more included at events which brings me back to this idea of the cool kids group. 

[00:29:11] Now, most people think because I'm comfortable on a stage or comfortable on a microphone, that I'm in the cool kids group, or that I feel totally comfortable at these events but let me just tell you hands down, I feel so freaking uncomfortable and not just about the hearing loss thing.

[00:29:25] I feel very disconnected from people. I have a very hard time networking and having conversations. I feel like a freaking phony because I can't always hear the conversation and I don't know when I should have people repeat themselves or what's worth it or whether or not they're just rambling about the weather which I don't need you to repeat.

[00:29:39] But when it comes down to it, when I look around a room and I see people clicking off, I look for the people who like me are standing alone. So at events, can I just make a request of you? Just like on behalf of humanity and for all of the nerds like me in the world, could you put aside your awkwardness for a moment and come over and say hello to that other person standing there?

[00:30:04] Could we do our part of saying, okay, I get there's always gonna be a cool kids group. It doesn't matter if we're in our forties or fifties or whatever age you are. There's gonna be that. And how about we all just take a stride and say, events are awkward. A lot of us are attending them alone. Look around at somebody else who also looks awkward.

[00:30:23] Put on your big girl panties, walk up and they said, hi, can we be awkward together? Are you here alone? I kind of feel weird. Are you looking for someone to drink your coffee with? Can we start making it normal to talk to other grownups and make friends? Like even if it's just the moment while you're wait in line to the bathroom or you pull up a seat next to somebody at a round table at a conference, like let's start dispelling that idea that there has to be that in group where people know others versus the rest of us are outsiders. I just think that's something that we all are gonna have to work on together if we're gonna make attending events feel a little less lonely. Even though you could be in a room with 600 people, it can feel very lonely if you're there by yourself, you don't know anyone.

[00:31:06] So if that's you, I don't know if I don't know if you've heard this about me before, but I have extreme social anxiety. Most people don't realize that, part of it stems from my hearing loss, part of it stems from actually being awkwardly shy. I have a really hard time walking up to people and saying hello, but because I know there are other people who feel the same way, I feel a duty to try to get over that and start making friends with other people.

[00:31:29] So I'm gonna ask you to join me on that mission to make it a little more comfortable for those of us going out of our comfort zone to go out and network at these events, because it's probably really easy to hear me talk about how wonderful these conferences are. I've bragged a lot about all the conferences I've hosted, but the reality is I am just like so many of you that are so freaking shy and awkward when it comes to making connections.

[00:31:51] It's hard for me. It's very hard for me, and I know it might be hard for you too, and just know we're in this together. It doesn't mean that events, it doesn't mean that we shouldn't attend these things. It just means that we might have to work a little extra harder. Okay, so here we go. Rounding out the episode, I wanna give you my ten power tips for how to function at these events and how to make the most of it. And quite frankly, these are coming from the lens of the awkward, introvert me and what I have learned going from event producer which I was very comfortable running events because I was up in the sound booth where I was on the stage.

[00:32:24] But attending events, oh my gosh, it was a whole new ball grape. So here are a couple things that I do. Number one, when I attend an event, if at all possible, I try to arrive early and or stay late. And what I mean by that is I build buffer time into my trips if possible, to be able to get on site to the hotel, like fly in the day before, be able to have dinner either with someone or most likely by myself in my hotel room, just to kind of mentally prepare and think about what do I wanna get outta this event. And that after, I try to stay a little bit extra, so like an extra night or have a little bit of a later flight again, if possible. It really depends on the home status. I try not to leave my kiddos at home for too many nights , but I buffer that timeout so that I can have time to mentally prepare to be social and the time to review my notes and really reflect on my takeaways after an event. So number one, build buffer time into your events. Number two, if at all possible, if like me, you like knowing someone at the event. You don't like being the loner, awkward person. It's not fun.

[00:33:27] Number two, try to connect with someone in advance if possible. So a lot of conferences and events these days have some kind of social aspect community, like a Facebook group or maybe they're an extension of a program. If you can post in the Facebook group, which might sound a little scary and see if, I mean, this is, I found roommates before at events through Facebook groups.

[00:33:48] That's a great way to build a connection. In fact, most of my early events in the online space, I posted and ended up sharing a hotel room with someone I met through the Facebook group. That that's, I mean, you go to your comfort level, right? But I've done that. I have posted in a Facebook group and saying, Hey, I'm gonna go here for happy hour at the hotel bar. If anybody's lonely, come join me. I've met people that way by raising my hand as the awkward loner and people always come saying me, I'm awkward and lonely too. So if you can connect before the event, and then you know, someone going into the ballroom so I think that's great. Number three, here's one of my strategies.

[00:34:25] Wear an interesting accessory or a super cute outfit. You may be laughing at this one, but I find like if I feel I look really cute or I'm wearing an outfit that I typically get compliments on, it's an icebreaker for conversations. So case in point, I have this cute jumpsuit that every time I wear it, people compliment it or comment on it and they compliment it and it makes an easy icebreaker conversation.

[00:34:49] I have this one specific pair of shoes. Every time I wear them, people comment on them. Same thing with this pink shirt that I wear. I know the clothes that always get the compliments, and I'm not wearing it for the compliments. I'm wearing it for the compliment becoming the icebreaker, meaning that if somebody walks into me, I'm saying, oh my gosh, I love those shoes.

[00:35:09] I now go, oh my gosh, aren't they fabulous? They're actually a knockoff of free people's shoes. I got them at Target for 35 bucks and then now we become best friends. We can have a conversation and walk to coffee together. So wear an interesting outfit or something that you always could compliments on because it forces an icebreaker disclaimer.

[00:35:28] I apologize in advance if nobody actually compliments your outfit at the conference. Please don't come at me and later and say, it didn't work, Heather. You know, these are all suggestions. All right? You gotta be your own person with them. Number four, you have to show up and you have to say hello. So one of the things that I have to will myself into, maybe this is like a weird super dorky for me, but even though I get to a conference, sometimes I have to will myself to actually go downstairs and go to the conference.

[00:35:56] Case in point, when I arrived at the event I went to this last week, I got there [00:36:00] midday. I had to travel in late and I almost skipped the session before lunchtime cuz there was only like a half hour left. But I had to will myself and say, no, no, I flew all the way here. I got to show up. So if you travel to an event, don't skip out.

[00:36:15] Don't skip the luncheon or the other little extra things. Show up. Show up, and then look at somebody in the eyeball and say hello even though it's so freaking awkward. Me too, friend. It is awkward too. If you're listening to this, you're like, Heather, why are you so awkward? I, you know what? There are a whole percentage of us people that are very socially awkward.

[00:36:36] So if you are not one of those people, thank you for your service being social in the world and thank you for being social with us who are awkwardly social. Number five. Okay. At the event, one of my best pro tips is focus on being the connector for other people. So as you're being less awkward, you're walking up to people saying hello.

[00:36:57] Remember things about people but one of the best [00:37:00] ways that you can connect is by connecting others. So let's say you're having a conversation with someone and they bring up, I don't know, reels and you had talked to somebody prior that day that was really, really good at creating reels. You need to say, oh my gosh.

[00:37:14] Pam, you have to meet Samantha. I just talked this morning and she had the blah, blah blah and then go find Samantha and connect Pam and Samantha together. You be the connector of other people. It's a really easy way for you to start conversations more when you are being the connector for others.

[00:37:30] It's a really powerful way. Brendon Bouchard calls us becoming a linchpin. If you become the linchpin, the introducer and connector of people, oh my goodness, it's like a really, a really powerful strategy. And honestly, it shines very well on you and your brand, my friend. Okay, tip number six. Go to dinner or lunch with other people.

[00:37:50] Now, you don't have to do this all the time. I will be the first to say that for this four day event I just went to, I ordered Uber Eats and ate in my hotel bed with no pants on. Two of the days, I just really enjoy that hermit time in my hotel room. As an introvert, I need the refuel, but I also know in the power of networking, so I also ensure that some of my meals, I go out with other people.

[00:38:14] Now, if you don't know how to like ask a grownup on a friend date, a networking date, if you feel awkward about that, here's a little pro tip that I tried recently in an event I went to in November and it worked swimmingly well. We were, there's gonna be dinner that, the both nights were dinner and I knew there was gonna be a lot of people that were gonna have the awkward, what are we gonna do for dinner and then not really wanna ask.

[00:38:37] So I went on my phone, opened up open table and I made reservations for eight people at a grill next door to the hotel. And I literally asked the people at my table, Hey, what are y'all doing for dinner tonight? And they're like, I don't know. Everyone's like the awkward, we don't know what we're gonna do for dinner.

[00:38:56] I said, what do y'all like to go? I just made reservations. I got eight room for eight [00:39:00] people. This is not a normal thing that I would do. I would not be the like, whatever planner. I am the planner person, but I would normally be the socially awkward get back to my room but I wanna be a connector of people.

[00:39:13] I want to be a person that networks with other people. So I created the commitment by creating reservations on open table for eight people and I created the space and boy did they show. We ended up having, I don't know, like 17 people come. We had to expand the reservations two nights in a row so that is my pro tip for you.

[00:39:30] You can be the facilitator of corralling other people and oh my gosh, people love you for it. So go to dinner with other people and if it's awkward for you, make reservations on Yelp or Open Table or whatever else, and be like, I got space. Be the person that invites others in. Oh my goodness. If you become that person, people are going to love you for that.

[00:39:50] You help make their experience a little less awkward. Tip number seven, as you are meeting with people, share your story. This one is really, [00:40:00] really huge. Okay, so it's oftentimes when you're at events, we network and we say things more in a logistical fashion. Like, hello, my name is Heather Sager. I am the co-founder of The Speaking Co.

[00:40:09] Or, Hey, I'm a speaking coach for entrepreneurs, and we get in our, like our one liner but we miss a really incredible opportunity to be memorable. People will remember you for the stories you share. So I'm gonna challenge you when you're at events, work in your why story. So for me, part of my why is my hearing loss. I want people to feel included. I bring up my hearing loss. I bring up the idea. For years I couldn't hear and understand people, and the moment I got hearing aids and realized just how much was missing, now I'm on a mission to make sure that more and more people with hearing loss feel included at events.

[00:40:45] That's easy for me to bring up. I bring up the story of, it depends on the conversation. I don't bring up all my stories but I'll bring up my story of, let's see, of, the reason why I got into public speaking. A big reason for that around my foundation with my mom and losing my mom as a teen [00:41:00] and saying, all right, we've gotta do something about this.

[00:41:01] We gotta spread more education, awareness of it. So using my voice and my platform to talk about, breast cancer awareness and that was how I started in the speaking realm so finding little moments of your story. You don't have to, you shouldn't be sharing like a big old long story, but in conversations, can you bring in a slice of story because people remember that. It makes them feel something. They feel connected to you and they're way more likely to remember you. So pro tip, when you're networking, bring in a slice of story for connection with people. It also sets you apart. You're not just a, insert what you do. I'm not just a speaking coach.

[00:41:36] I'm a speaking coach with a hearing loss. I'm a speaking coach that got started because my mom died when I was a kid and it forced me to start using my voice. I mean, that sounds a little dramatic and sad. I mean, it is dramatic and sad, and I don't say it in that way, but those things set me apart. I'm not just a speaking coach.

[00:41:52] There is a story behind why I speak and why I empower others the same, because we all have a message on their heart, but we have to have the courage to share it, [00:42:00] right? That is gonna be way more powerful than me just telling you, I'm gonna teach you how to make money with your words. I mean, that's powerful too but you power those things together. I become memorable and create really incredible connections at events. You can do the same. Number eight, express gratitude at the event. And specifically I'm gonna tell you, express gratitude to the event staff. This is a game changer which is relationship building and a good will booster for yourself.

[00:42:29] A lot of times event staff, specifically the speakers and the staff who are volunteering around the event, they get a lot of like the rah, rah, woo, but they don't get a lot of specific feedback, and this is something I'm gonna share with you specifically as a speaker, for you as a future speaker and other speakers.

[00:42:47] People think that because speakers get all the claps and the praise on stage, that they must be bombarded by information and like, whoa, you're so amazing all the time but speakers are [00:43:00] okay, this is gonna be a really bold statement. Speakers are a little insecure. And I say that myself included, that when we get off the stage we're like, we are not quite sure what just happened, like we think that was good. We think that it resonated, like did they like it? Did they really like it or they just being nice? Like we have these thoughts in our head and I would imagine when you speak on stage, you probably have an element of this too. The best gift you can give a speaker is to show them gratitude by going out of your way to say hello to them and tell them what resonated with their talk.

[00:43:27] Don't just make it a generic, you were awesome. Make it a, when you said this story, Oh, it just, it meant so much to me, where that tip you shared on X, Y, and Z. Ah, I'm, I'm like, I'm soaking this stuff up. I just appreciate you so, so much. Thank you so much for being here. That means the world. Same thing to event staff.

[00:43:47] When you go outta your way to thank people, these people do not get a lot of thanks and gratitude out outside of the big rah, rah. So when you go outta your way to thank them, it really makes a huge, huge difference and those could turn [00:44:00] into connections for yourself. So do gratitude for the sake of gratitude but just know sometimes that gratitude will circle back around in a beautiful karma way. Okay, last two. Tip number nine, do your part to blast about the event on social. Be a good contributor to the event. Help the event host. Post on social, do the rah, rah. They give you a hashtag. Post about it.

[00:44:23] What we're working on here is you are working on relationships, but you also leverage you attending events for your own personal branding. Tell your audience you're going through it. Connect the dots with that. But a good pro tip, if you're gonna be at an event, talk about being at the event. You don't have to talk about what you're learning or all the details, but show that you're in motion out there improving yourself, improving your skills, that's important behind the scenes for your clients. And then lastly, if you're gonna attend an event, you need to make sure that you're following up. Now, what I mean by follow up for sure with the connections that you fostered at the event, but also, friend, follow up with yourself.

[00:44:57] If you wrote notes at the event you made decisions or [00:45:00] make commitments, or said, I'm really gonna do this, you need to have time scheduled for you to follow up with yourself. So whether that's immediately after the event, you review in your notes and making the commitments of what you're gonna do. Maybe you schedule a coffee date with yourself 30 days from the event to review your notes, check in and see how you're doing, and then come up with your next set of commitments.

[00:45:18] Maybe your follow up is to follow up with the event host, to speakers, the connections that you made at your table or around the hallway or at the dinners, whatever that looks like. Do the follow up. Do the follow up. If you're gonna make the investment to be in the event, to be part of the event, follow up on these pro tips I'm giving you.

[00:45:35] Do the follow up. Do the follow up because it's that momentum you start building from these connections and from you taking action on the things that really spoke to you. That's what's gonna make the difference. Okay? I hope that these ten pro tips, I'm gonna recap 'em real quick. Go early and stay a little late if possible.

[00:45:53] Create buffer tent for you and number two. Connect before, if possible. Number three wear an interesting accessory or outfit to start a conversation. Number four, show up. Say hello. Number five, be a connector of others. Number six, go to dinner or lunch with other people. Number seven, share your story.

[00:46:13] Number eight, express gratitude. Number nine, blast it on social. And number ten, follow up. I hope these tips have been helpful for you. I'm sure some of them were new, some of them were probably reminders, but I hope that this conversation is meeting you at just the right time where you're thinking about, not just how you're showing up, how you're creating more intention for the things that you're investing in time and money, but also start thinking about how you're fostering this environment for your community because running an event, you always need to be thinking in the back of your mind around you hosting, you being the host, and now maybe you don't have an intention to create an event for yourself, but you are creating an environment in a community with your audience, whether that's [00:47:00] in your programs or in your coaching, or in on Facebook or in a group, whatever that looks like. You are fostering community.

[00:47:08] Here's a little bit of a mind to think about today. All these things I shared about today were from the lens of you being an individual contributor at the event. What would happen if you thought about these things from a different lens? Thinking about if you host the event, my rant around inclusion, around thinking about people with hearing loss or struggling with seeing things or processing information.

[00:47:28] How can you be a good champion for that for your audience? How could you be more mindful of inclusion? How could you be more mindful that it's awkward to make connections? How could you be more mindful around how maybe your audience is timid or nervous or not totally comfortable when they're getting started with your topic?

[00:47:45] How could you create an environment that allows people to thrive and be a little less nervous or awkward? These are things that we start learning and worrying about as leaders in our communities, and I hope [00:48:00] today's conversation got you thinking about this in a beautiful way. And more importantly, I hope that you're excited to put some of these things in action in 2023.

[00:48:09] Circle back with me on Instagram. I really would love to hear for you what resonated today. If you'd love to see an event coming from The Speaker Co. In 2023, shoot us a message and also tell me what would, which tip was your favorite one that you took out today? Was there something that I said? Was it an idea or something that sparked in your mind that you're like, yes, I'm gonna put this into action?

[00:48:27] Come hang on on Instagram. I would love to hear it. And I will friend, I'll see you next week on the next episode. Bye for now.[00:49:00]