Sorry to have missed last week. I was in sunny San Diego at XYPN16 and FinCon16, two amazingly fun financial planning conferences. I spent the week meeting other advisors and bloggers in the personal finance field, learning tricks of the trade from industry experts and exploring what San Diego had to offer, including my first In-N-Out Burger (it was delicious!).
I’ve come back with 1000 ideas on how to better serve my clients and readers. You will start to see some of them soon. But I thought it would be helpful to share some ways that I made the most out of my first time at both conferences. Many of you are at transition points in your life and focusing on these four things can help make the new experiences worthwhile.
Get Out of Your Comfort Zone
While I was excited to nerd out for an entire week, the thought of only knowing a few out of hundreds of people really intimidated me. I wouldn’t say I’m an introvert, but I’ve never been one just to show up at a place and try to make friends.
Luckily, I pushed past my comfort zone and met a lot of great people. Instead of clinging to those that I knew or hiding out in my hotel room, I forced myself to go to events and gatherings to meet others in my field. There were still plenty of awkward moments where I stood by myself in a crowd looking for someone to talk to. But I embraced the awkwardness, and it led to many great conversations.
If you find yourself in this type of situation, don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Someone is likely just as scared and intimidated as you are. The reward is well worth the risk.
Focus On Relationships
“Networking” has always had a negative connotation to me. It triggers images of disingenuous smiles and overexcited handshakes. However, one of the experts at the XYPN conference spoke about focusing on relationships with people rather than thinking about the end result when having conversations. In short, you should be present and respond to what the person is expressing in the moment.
While the presentation was geared toward selling our services, I found myself applying the tip to conversations that I had with several advisors. Having recently launched my firm, I asked experienced people about surviving my first year.
The conversations were really enlightening, and my genuine interest in their stories created deeper connections. One advisor expressed gratitude in my getting to know him, rather than just pumping him for information or connections. Focusing on the relationships rather than what I could get from them, helped create a much bigger network of advisors willing to help whenever I need it.
Enjoy the Journey
Both conferences were full of hustlers – so many entrepreneurs who work countless hours on being better bloggers or advisors. However, these people also know how to play hard. Every night there was some sort of party or get together that went into the wee hours of the morning.
I loved the fact that we got down to business during the day and partied at night. It reminded me that you can work hard at what you do but also enjoy the people and experiences around you. You can find the right balance and enjoy both aspects of your life.
Regular readers of my blog know this gratitude is a big thing for me. I felt especially thankful this past week.
It was my first big event as an entrepreneur and being surrounded by all of these money nerds highlighted how lucky that I am to get to do what I love, for the people that I love, in a way that I love. Despite the difficulties of entrepreneurship, these people inspired me to plow full speed ahead.
Above all, make sure to reflect and appreciate where you are in your life. It may not be where you want to be yet, but there’s still something to be thankful for.
Thank you to all of the amazing people that made these conferences so great. I’m looking forward to keeping in touch, growing together and making my own mark in the personal finance world. See you in Dallas!