In March, I presented at the annual Spark Conference, a female entrepreneurial conference and spoke about how crowdfunding can help entrepreneurs grow their audience. (Shameless plug: visit my book’scrowdfunding campaign here.)
While there, I learned how to SEO my website, connected with old friends, and made new connections that surprised me.
I was one of the only people who had flown into the conference—everyone else was local to Amsterdam—so I felt a bit like an outsider.
One can easily identify other outsiders at a conference because they often stand at the edges of conversation and hang around the coffee machine.
Those were the people I approached first and introduced myself. Once two outsiders join forces, they’re no longer “outside” and the group grows less intimidating.
Here are some additional lessons I learned while at Spark:
Success means something different to all of us
Defining your version of success is so important because it means something different to every single person in the room. Some women had left their office jobs and were just starting the entrepreneurial journey whereas others were celebrating selling 100k books.
We’re all at different stages of our careers and maturity as entrepreneurs, so it’s important that you define your goals and understand that the conversations you have with others will be through their lens of what success means to them.
A rising tide raises all ships
This motto was said a lot during the conference and there was great emphasis on approaching all conversations with how we can help one another.
A panel discussion covered competition and envy and explained how those thoughts and emotions are not only destructive but they come from a scarcity mindset instead of an abundance mindset.
When we focus on the abundance around us, we no longer compete with others, and we are given the unique opportunity to lift one another to a higher level.
I turned to the woman next to me and said, “I really enjoy hiring fellow entrepreneurs because I know that the money I give to that person will allow her to pay another entrepreneur for her services and so on and so on.”
It’s like micro-economics in a small circle. The more you invest in one another, the more you all succeed.
Creativity is not magic, it just looks like that to people who don't know how much work goes into creating something
Creativity is not magic. It’s also unlimited. We all have the capacity to be creative.
It’s the whole 1% vs. 99% inspiration vs. perspiration thing. Creativity is really just the outcome of a lot of hard work and perseverance.
If you work hard and don’t give up, you’ll make it farther than most people.
Don’t approach creativity like it’s some magical process only available to a select few—we all have the ability to create wonderful things.
LinkedIn makes it easy to connect
This one was a practical tip, but if you have the LinkedIn app on your phone, which I recommend installing before going to a conference, you can turn on the Bluetooth option and connect with everyone who is in your same vicinity.
This took away the pressure of having to print and collect (and not lose) people’s business cards but it also took away a bit of the face-to-face interactions.
Once the conference is over, follow up with everyone who you connected with and let them know what you’re working on. You never know who might be interested in what you do.
Building a business takes time
Building a business takes a long time. Building a successful business takes even longer. How long? The answer was different for everyone.
One speaker said he changed directions multiple times in the past 20 years. He also admitted that as an entrepreneur, he suffered from Shiny Object Syndrome (you can read more about that here) and that he learned to punt interesting opportunities to other people rather than try to take them all on himself.
We have limited time, resources, and bandwidth, so being picky about your projects is a good thing.
As entrepreneurs, we have that indefatigable “can do!” spirit but it can often distract and derail us from getting things accomplished.