Sometime back in early April, Hayley and I had a crazy phone conversation. We'd called to talk about something else and we'd only met once in real life, but somewhere during the course of that phone call we both got real quiet and one of us said, "should WE have a conference?". We talked to our husbands, prayed, and met (for the second time) a week later to really talk it through.
By the time she left my house that day, we had decided to take the plunge.
That day we had no idea what we were getting into - we had no idea the time commitment, the financial commitment, no idea the vulnerability we'd experience, no idea how much we'd grow to love this community.
Now - just six months later we've added in Casey and Moriah, 10 amazing community leaders, 12 speakers, and about 200 people who will be meeting us in Indianapolis this coming Thursday. We are expectant and excited and overwhelmed. If you can't make it to The Influence Conference this year, don't worry! We'll be announcing next year's Influence dates in just a few days AND preselling a few "first supporter" tickets at a huge discount next week!
If you ARE coming to Influence this week - YAY! And here are 5 things I really want you to know before you show up at that hotel. From my heart to yours.
1. You should come tender + ready.
Is this a blogging conference? Is it a women's conference? Will it be Jesus focused? Will it help my business? The answer to all of those things is yes. One huge success that we've had as a new conference (thanks to Jesus alone) is we've been able to keep a strong gospel-centered focus and a strong-strategy centered focus. We haven't had to water anything down. Come tender and expecting the Lord to move in your life. If you're a blogger or business lady - come ready to hear from some wise people and expand your strategic Influence. Neither will be subdued. You will leave changed.
2. Come knowing you're being prayed for.
Since April, this tribe of women has made our hearts beat faster. I know for sure that we, your hosts, have spent nights awake praying for you and I know for sure that our prayer team for the conference has been praying for each of you by name. They are praying that you leave your home in a peaceful place, that you get to us safely, that the Lord moves and that you get all you need to out of the weekend. You are loved and valued by the Lord and you are loved and valued by us.
3. Make a list of names.
This is one piece of advice I'm taking seriously. 200 people is a small group, but it's still big enough that it won't hurt to be strategic. Here are the 3 lists I think you should make.
a) make a list of women you can be vulnerable with. Maybe it's your roomates, maybe it's a handful of blog friends you've never met before. Maybe the Lord will totally surprise you. But you're gonna need some allies. Go out on a limb and email a few girls and say, "can we stick together? can we process stuff together?". You'll be glad you did.
b) make a list of women you really want to meet. Speakers, fellow bloggers, community leaders, HOSTS, if you want to meet them and make sure you connect - write it down! Plan a meet up time! Tweet them and say - "hey! I'd sure like to get a chance to say hey and give you a hug." You don't want to get on your plane/in your car Sunday and realize you didn't even ever see them.
c) make a list of women you want to have meaningful conversations with. I've got my list and I'm emailing them this week. I want to sit beside them at a meal, sneak off to chat during a free time, or pray together before a session. Some of them I know, some I just really want to hear a little more about.
d) make a list of who you want to learn from. Again, don't be shocked if the Lord shakes it up for you once you get there, but it's not a bad idea to look at our sessions + schedules list and see which sessions + speakers you REALLY want to hear from. If you're attending the conference, you'll have access to the audio of all the speakers, but planning out your schedule isn't a bad idea:).
4. Leave your stats behind.
We've said it and we'll say it again. This isn't a conference of all stars or rock stars or cliques or famous people.
Y'all. We're bloggers. We're moms. We're college students. We're wives.
We are daughters of the King.
If you don't have a blog, if you have 12 readers, if you have 12,000 daily readers - no one cares here. Our speakers are coming from a place of gratitude and grace and there is no VIP section. Leave your shame and your accolades at home. The playing field has been leveled. We all have influence.
5. Don't overdo it but don't skip out!
We've really strategically planned the schedule so that you have margin in your schedule but so you also get your money's worth. My mama-bear voice is coming out as I speak to some of you party animals - resist the temptation to stay up all night having slumber parties and then have to crash during the morning or afternoon sessions. You're going to want to go to EVERY scheduled activity - we promise you! But you have from 4:30-8pm every day to rest/refresh/go shopping/connect/etc.
Get your money's worth and come to everything!