So, I’m back from working the Mimas stand at the Online conference. I’ve done some conference stand work before, but on a much smaller scale, and Online was a shock to the system – on many levels!

If you came to the Mimas stand at Online (and if not, why not?), you probably saw me. You may even have been accosted by me (‘Are you familiar with Mimas?..’). If you came by on Thursday afternoon – when the tiredness was starting to outweigh the professionalism – you might have seen me doing my flamingo impression (one foot up, one foot down, try not to fall over during the transition). We spoke to 270 people in total, which is a delightfully amazing number. It was fantastic to meet so many people – some of them completely new, others who I had spoken to by email or on twitter – and get a real flavour of the diversity of the profession.

It wasn’t always easy. I messed up my spiel on numerous occasions (‘Mimas is an organisation of… umm… centre of excellence of … umm … expertise…’). I got flatfooted by questions that I really should have prepared for (‘Oh, what types of geo-spatial data do you work with?’). I shamelessly referred people to colleagues. I made Lisa talk Spanish. I knocked the end off the banner every time I tried to get into my handbag. I forgot how to type. I forgot how to speak. I let my welcoming smile turn into a hideous rictus. I only just resisted the temptation to sink to my knees on the floor of the stand, and let the world go hang.

But I didn’t. I survived the three days with my sanity largely intact. This was helped by a number of factors. One was my fantastic colleagues, who helped me when I was floundering; bought me coffee; drank beer with me; let me steal their best turns of phrase; and are still – amazingly! – speaking to me. Another was the excitement of seeing my SLA Europe colleagues, who I don’t get to meet up with as often as I’d like. We had a great breakfast, and an amazing trip to the House of Commons, thanks to Darron Chapman at tfpl, followed by a gorgeous dinner and maybe just a little wine… This also gave me the chance to reconnect with Anne Caputo, President-Elect of SLA, and an all-round Very Nice Lady, and to meet Stacey Bowers (SLA’s very glamorous and lovely Director of Business Development) and the very-tired-but-still-terrifyingly-intelligent Stephen Abram.

The main thing, though, that kept me going, was the fact that (secretly) I loved it. I’m delighted with the new Mimas brand, and was really pleased to have the chance to talk to people about it! I enjoy my work so much, and Online was a chance to be able to vent some of that enthusiasm, in an environment where people were interested and engaged. It would have been nice to attend some of the sessions, but working the stand has given me plenty of great contacts to follow up on, and a wealth of things to feed into my personal and professional development. My feet may not have forgiven me yet, but it was worth it 😉

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