I have a confession to make: I really, really enjoyed the New Professionals Conference yesterday. There were a few nervous moments about my presentation and my Twitter workshop, but overall? had a whale of a time! It was fantastic to see so many people – some completely new, some known from Twitter, some met before – and hear some brilliant presentations. (I say ‘some’, not because the presentations weren’t all brilliant, but because I didn’t get to see them all.) And you know something else? SLA2010 was pretty darn ace too. Thoroughly enjoyed it. And I’m really looking forward to the SLA Europe Summer Soiree tomorrow.

‘Hmm’, I hear you say, ‘not exactly the juiciest of confessions. You went to some good conferences and enjoyed them. Do you have very little on your conscience? Are you not supposed to have fun?’

Well, it’s not so much ‘not supposed to’ as ‘didn’t really expect to’. Surprised now? Hopefully, you hadn’t noticed that I tend strongly towards ‘shy’, and that face-to-face networking has been, at times, quite excruciatingly painful for me. I have a tendency to be rather of the Groby Lington persuasion:

He was a good-natured, kindly dispositioned man, and in theory he was delighted to pay periodical visits to the wife and children of his dead brother William; in practice, he infinitely preferred the comfort and seclusion of his own house and garden, and the companionship of his books and his parrot

Or, to put it in the words of someone I met at SLA2010, when discussing how various people engage with the association ‘I guess some people just don’t like coming out from behind their desks, and meeting people in the real world’. ‘That’s me!’ I thought. ‘That’s true!’ I said. Of course I didn’t tell her that I felt like that. I haven’t told anyone. Until now.

I was inspired by Eleni Zazani‘s presentation at npc2010, where she said that being enthusiastic is a choice. And a choice that you have to keep on making. She emphasised that you have to search for the positive, and embrace it once you’ve found it. Keep the good reasons why you became an info pro at the front of your mind, and keep them there in the face of all discouragement.

I felt that Eleni had found words for what I’d been doing. I knew that going to conferences was hugely important for my career. I knew that meeting people face-to-face to form peer networks was vital for my personal and professional development. I knew that I would find these events valuable and rewarding, and that I would gain a huge amount from them. But on many levels, I’d still rather have been at home with my books (alas, I do not even have a parrot).

I didn’t hide away. I made myself be enthusiastic about conferences and training courses and networking events and other events where I’d have to – *gulp* – speak to strangers. I made myself leave my comfort zone, and look at the positive aspects. I focussed my reflections on those positive aspects. I drilled it into myself – you will go to this, you will enjoy this. And I didn’t tell anyone how I felt. Why? Because that would be focussing on the negative.

So why am I telling you today? Well, take a look at my opening paragraph again. I’m telling you today because it has become a positive. I made myself be enthusiastic, and have become genuinely so. I made myself focus on the positive aspects of these events, and now that’s all I can see. I have remoulded myself. And, goshdarnit, if I’m not actually pretty proud.

It does help, of course, that I now have friends at these events, who I look forward to seeing. How did I meet those friends? By social networking, and attending conferences and training courses and networking events and… you see? It builds a positive feedback loop. There will, of course, still be events where I don’t know anyone – but that’s ok. I’m sure they will be just full of lovely people, waiting to be my friends πŸ˜‰

So I’m sorry that this post hasn’t been a review of NPC2010 or SLA2010 – those posts will come! And I can say confidently and happily that reviews of many more conferences will follow them.

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