Put a Bow On It
As a social butterfly events are my lifeblood, I thrive in active environments and love meeting new people. I've noticed recently though, the onslaught of events and networking drinks has made me a bit 'evented out.' In recent months I've begun to wonder: are larger scale events still necessary to always attend? Are smaller dinners and more intimate settings the way to go?
As someone who has planned events for most of my career, I think the answer is maybe. I believe there is still a time and a place for large events however these days I much prefer the intimacy of a smaller, intimate affair where I can connect with people and have more meaningful conversations.
In the tech world, we tend to get event fatigue, meaning, that feeling you get when you think great, another event where I need to network, meet new and old colleagues. We've all been there. The months between March and June and then again from September to November, are just packed full. There have been nights when I do not show up at home until 11 pm because I have to hop from one thing to the next without a break. Sure, it's great to be out and see people, but the conversations you have aren't that impactful, you maybe say hello for a second and then run onto the next person. While I adore conferences for the content aspect, I also believe that making a meaningful connection is essential.
How do you not get event fatigue in 2019? Here are some rules that I'm trying to implement this year to help combat the issue.
One on Ones Over Networking Drinks
While I enjoy networking and networking events, there is a time for everything. While I'm not going to cut out networking drinks entirely, I'd much rather plan to meet up wtih someone one on one or in a smaller group. This way we aren't being pulled in a million different directions and can dig deep into what we want to discuss.
Learn to Say No
Learning to say no is essential. I'm guilty of booking myself back to back to back with meetings and events that by the end of the week I'm anti-social and exhausted. Going into 2019 I'm going to choose my events wisely. Look at who else is attending the event and figure out how I can maximize my time. Time is valuable, treat it as such.
Say No to FOMO
FOMO or fear of missing out is something that plagues my generation. Scrolling throw our social media feeds we all see the green eye'ed monster appear. I wish I were at that dinner, or damn, why didn't I attend that networking drinks. Now, I'm saying no to FOMO. While I may regret not attending a seminar or event series, I can always try to catch up with the speaker, ask if there is a recording or just plain miss out. Learning to value the moment opposed to what others are doing can be freeing, and you will learn to appreciate your time more.
Like all good VC's, I've begun putting ROI's against events. In other words, what is my return on time investment? What am I gaining from attending this event? The ROI can be simple. Generally, for myself, I have a few boxes I like to check.
1. Will I meet new people or is it just the same people. I will say, soemtimes I attend events because all my friends are going. It can be an excellent way to catch up. If I'm going to work, however, I would like to meet some new faces.
2. Am I going to learn something? While I love to network, I also want to learn. If there is an event where I know there is an excellent speaker and I'm going to learn from a said person, then I will try to attend.
3. Have I attended before? In Toronto, we are lucky enough to have a lot of events that happen monthly like TechTO. While I love visiting these monthly events sometimes you need to ask yourself: am I going to get something out of this event that I didn't get from the previous ones? Sometimes the answer is yes, there is a good speaker, new connections to be made, other times that answer might be a simple no.
Event fatigue is something that is faced by everyone at some level in their career. Although I won't be entirely cutting events out of my life, I am beginning to spend my time wisely, and only attending things that will prove to be of great value or help impact my career. It's key to remember to take care of yourself first and remember, the world will not end if you don't show up at an event.