All Photos in this post by Justin & Brooke for Alt Summit unless otherwise noted
ALT Summit was a big event for me. In August when things weren’t looking so bright in my work life I decided that this was the year to make the leap and go to ALT. This was by no means a cheap jump. When you add up a flight, a ticket and a hotel room the total cost gets into the thousands. Thankfully, I have a supportive husband, a husband that jokingly reminds me it is his turn for an expensive solo vacation with his golf clubs, that agreed this would be good for me. I will tell you now, it is worth every penny.
Spending that much to attend I knew I had to get the most out of my trip. That meant I couldn’t crawl into my introvert shell and play the role of wallflower. I was going to have to get out there and network. Before I left for ALT I wrote about ditching my personality and some of you may be wondering how that worked out. It went well though not completely how I had planned. I thought I was going to have to put on my game face and make small talk, something I truly don’t enjoy. I arrived at my Wednesday night dinner ready to be open and vulnerable. I so quickly felt comfortable talking to the people at my table that I almost immediately fell into being myself. I broke the seal on handing out a business card, telling my story and the rest just fell in place.
By the end of this dinner you wouldn’t have known that we had just met. Sylvie, Danielle and I spent a significant part of the event together. The best part about meeting them is that we pushed each other to stretch out of our comfort zone, met new people together and were a sounding board for ideas. I spent so much time with these ladies that by the end of the last night I could introduce them to strangers with their complete elevator pitch. We used each other to make our group bigger. Sylvie knew some people already which grew the circle, Danielle met some new ones and brought them in and I hustled the first day and was able to make a lot of introductions myself.
The first day, Thursday, I exchanged 33 business cards. Which led to knowing a lot of people at the first party. Sylvie was convinced I knew everyone which wasn’t quite the truth, but it felt good to recognize faces and be able to start up conversations at a party of 400+ people. After a day filled with networking, classes, speakers and roundtables I could barely turn off the thoughts long enough to sleep. Luckily, I talked to all the sponsors I wanted to talk to on Thursday because when I got to Friday I was spent. I had so little left in me I had to take a break during the last session to regroup before dinner and more parties.
All in all it was a complete success and I hope I get the chance to do it again. If you are considering going and can afford it don’t think about it any longer just buy the ticket, you won’t be disappointed. If like me you are an introvert and want to get the most out of the experience here are a few tips.
Utilize Social Media prior to the event
There is a Facebook group that you will get to join as a participant of ALT. Start talking to people. Don’t just sit on the sidelines watching the threads get into a few. You will find everyone there very helpful and it will help take the edge off. I wish I had made more of an effort to connect in person with more of the people I chatted with in the group. I think I only met 3 or 4 of the dozen I talked to on social media. Making connections with sponsors prior to the event making it easy to strike up a conversation when I met them in person.
Bring the right clothes
This doesn’t mean bring the outfits that you think are on trend for the moment. Don’t buy all new outfits that you aren’t sure you will be comfortable in bring outfits that will make you feel like a rockstar. You know the ones, you put them on and you immediately have swagger, bring those! Confidence is your best accessory so make sure you feel good in those outfits. You are going to be out of your comfort zone interacting with people don’t be out of your wardrobe comfort zone. I kept it simple and received multiple compliments from people that they loved my style. This never happens to me so my comfort and confidence must have been showing.
Don’t sit with the same people at meals
It was so tempting to sit down with a table full of people I knew, but some of the best conversations came from sitting at a table with all new faces. Look at it this way it is 8 new business cards! You never know who you will meet, but you won’t meet anyone if you don’t put yourself in a position where you know nobody.
Mingle as a group
At the party on Thursday night to get started I met up with Danielle and Sylvie. After we had chatted about our day, had some food we moved as a group to meet new people. We walked up to two ladies and said hello. We did our introductions chatted a little bit and then our group of 5 moved on to meet a new group of ladies. This led to meeting up in someones room to talk so more which led to meeting 3 more people. It was so much less intimidating to meet new people as a group. There is strength in numbers, we were already comfortable with each other so it made it that much easier to walk up to a new group. It even ended with me in the type of goofy group picture I never thought I would do. Tea anyone?
Know when you are tapped out
I knew I had hit a wall and as much as I wanted to stay and listen to the last session(it started with a dance party so it was bound to be good) I knew that if I didn’t take some quiet time for myself I would regret it. A key part of being an introvert is needing down time to recharge. That is why I didn’t get a roommate, that is why I ate breakfast by myself Thursday morning, and that is why I left a great session to take a shower and relax before the closing keynote. Listen to your body and take the advice. You might miss a few things but you will get more out of the rest of your time because you will be pleasant and rested.
There are no rules
As we learned from the final speaker, Dallas Clayton, there are no rules. When you meet someone there aren’t any rules of engagement. Some things may work better for you than others, but there are now rules. When someone tells you to have a nice day you don’t have to say “you too.” You could go with any number of sign-offs. Don’t try to pigeon-hole yourself in to a set of rules that don’t work for you. I promise you that you will find your “people” at this event. As a new friend, Julie, put it “ALT is like summer camp for creatives. Fast friends and fun.” You will meet people and it will feel like you have known them for years.
Want to read more recaps of ALT? Check out these great blogs all with a different perspective
- How to continue the momentum after ALT – Pars Caeli
- New tricks I learned at ALT Summit – Good Dogs & Co
- ALT Summit Recap – Mom’s Stuff
- ALT Summit 2015 – Briton Alo
- ALT Summit Survival Guide – Rad Mom Cool Kid
- Almost Everything I did at ALT Summit – Don’t Mind the Mess
- Lessons from ALT Summit – Charming Details
- ALT Summit: What this non-blogger got from a bloggers conference – Julie Schumacher
- What are your superpowers? – Lady of Perpetual Chaos
- ALT Summit recap lessons learned – Polish my Crown
- Look: ALT Summit Style No. 1 – Sylvie in the Sky
- ALT Winter 2015 – Design Crush
- ALT Summit Recap – Nearly Crafty
- ALT Summit Recap Pt. 1 – A Slice of Style
- Designers Collective goes to ALT – Designers Collective