When I was a barista at Starbucks, I went through their management program. It’s an incredible gift that they offer staff members because it’s really thorough, but it can also be pretty tough. I was freelance writing at the time, and clearly not staying at Starbucks for the long haul, so my friend and fellow barista John asked me why I was doing it. I went through a long, rambling explanation that basically said I was just covering my bases in case writing didn’t work out.
“I don’t think that’s it,” he said. “I think you just like to learn stuff.”
John was pretty good at seeing through me, and this was no exception — I always knew I didn’t want to run a Starbucks. I just liked to learn about it. This quality makes me an annoying friend sometimes (I can be obsessive), but it makes me a good writer because I like to explore new topics even without a good reason. And learning about new topics makes me want to share them, which is one of the reasons I love to write.
Sometimes, though, instead of writing, I workshop or teach or speak about a topic. Speaking in public can be really enjoyable, and also kind of makes me want to die. If you’re shy or know a shy person (basically, if you’re human), you understand the discomfort part. But as much as it hurts, part of me still loves sharing something I’m excited about with a room full of people. Instead of writing my thoughts down when I’m still in my pajamas and glasses, like I do when I’m writing blogs to you guys, I pull on a blazer and meet you in person. That’s scary, but it can also be pretty fantastic.
I have a few events lined up in the next month or so that I wanted to share. Two out of the three are pretty specific, but if you or someone you know is part of the demographic who could benefit from them, I’d love to see you there.
Tuesday, July 28
These Girls Rock conferences designed for young girls (9 to 16 years old) to learn about music are pretty amazing; I think it’s incredible that we’re having one in Birmingham. I’ll be speaking about writing, but girls will also have time with musicians, will learn about forming a band and marketing their music, and will get to be supported in creativity and introduced to small business marketing at the same time. Whether any of these girls turn out to be rock stars or not, those lessons are pretty important. Click here to register for camp.
Tuesday, July 21
I work for Infomedia, but even when I didn’t, I tried to make time for their monthly Lunch & Learn series. The whole thing is free, including lunch (lately, it’s usually from Taziki’s), and they have a staff member talk about something current in tech, usually Analytics or SEO advances or something like that. I’ll be speaking at this month’s Lunch & Learn about what to blog about if your company needs to have a blog (for SEO or Google authority), but you’re not sure how to go about building content for it. Click here for a free reservation.
Wednesday, August 26
The Secret’s Out is a Birmingham conference for wedding professionals — photographers, florists, wedding coordinators, calligraphers, etc. The speakers are some of the hardest working and most successful people working in the wedding industry in the Southeast, and in our meetings they all really impressed me with their knowledge base, skill and commitment to professionalism. Whether you’re just getting started in the wedding industry or you want to up your game a little bit, I honestly think this investment is worth it, both for what you’ll learn and for the networking opportunities (and for the gift bags). I’m not a wedding professional (a being-a-bridesmaid professional, maybe), but I’ll be speaking about how to target specific social media followers so you can build a following of clients and potential clients instead of having a high number of followers who are mainly just competitors in your industry. Click here to buy tickets.
Whether or not you come see me at these events will mostly depend on whether the niche topics interest you (or whether you’re a young girl, in the case of Girls Rock), but I think planning on attending a few local conferences is a good idea in general. They’re worth it for the knowledge and the networking. Plus, it’s pretty fun to learn stuff. You can find local conferences by following speakers you like on social media, using Google, or checking out listings on Birmingham 365, and you can always find where I’ll be speaking by checking out my Events page.
Carrie Rollwagen is author of The Localist: Think Independent, Buy Local and Reclaim the American Dream, creator of 30 Days of Local Praise and co-founder of Church Street Coffee & Books. Find her on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @crollwagen.