How will Conference be a Change Point for you?

Apr 3, 2013
Amy Lytle

Today's post is written by Amy Lytle from HandsOn Northwest North Carolina. Amy attended her first Conference in New Orleans at the tender age of 24. She has leveraged her conference experiences in building a 15+ career in the field of volunteer engagement, and was hired as the first-ever Executive Director of HandsOn Northwest NC in 2007. Attending conference is part of her 2013 resolution to practice "radical self-care" in hopes of being the best leader she can be. And she's serious about the cool beverages.

By now, I hope you all have heard about the upcoming Conference on Volunteering and Service set for June 19-22nd in Washington, DC. You may be thinking, DC in JUNE? Are you nuts? 90 degrees and 100% humidity? Why would I want to do that?

You want to do it because attending conference can be transformational, especially if you work for or with a HandsOn affiliate. I would especially encourage all affiliates to attend the Affiliate-Only Sessions, scheduled for the Friday afternoon and Saturday after conference. I've attended all but two conferences since I started my career in volunteer engagement in 1998. (Yes, I entered the field at a ridiculously young age, why do you ask?) I make this investment in time and money–and for me now, as the ED of a relatively small and relatively new affiliate, it's a significant investment–because I know that my ROI will be great. At each conference, I've built and nurtured relationships that have sustained me throughout my career in the field. I've honed my skills in numerous areas, and learned best practices that have brought immediate value when taken home.

Conference is more than just the sessions you attend, it's about the people you'll meet and the conversations you'll have. There are some colleagues that I see only at conference, but I know that I can pick up the phone any time and get advice and support from them. I've picked their brains, "borrowed" their ideas, and learned from their experience. None of this knowledge would have been available to me had I decided to sit in my office alone. As an affiliate leader, I've learned that creating and strengthening my peer network has been crucial to my success, both personally and organizationally.

My goal for each conference is always the same: at least one new idea I can instantly implement when I get back home and one new colleague who I feel I can count on in the future. I really should create stronger "stretch" goals, because, in reality, both of these are easy to fulfill. In past conferences, I've gotten key advice about implementing HandsOn Connect, learned how to build a managed projects program, and I gained confidence in working with corporate partners. As a member of the "Dream Team," (hey, I didn't name it that–HandsOn Network staff did!) I'm proud that the affiliate-oriented sessions have been created by and for affiliate leaders. The partnership between the HandsOn Network/ Points of Light staff and us affiliates is strengthened by the conference experience, building a stronger network for service and engagement that benefits us all.

So, yes–it's DC in June. The hotels won't be cheap, but the registration is reasonable. I'm thinking of bringing my spouse and my six-year-old daughter, so I can hear the stories of their adventures while I'm in sessions. (In NYC, during conference in 2010, they explored the High Line, Central Park, and Rockefeller Center, among other things.) Sure I'll be jealous of their explorations, but I know that what I'll bring home from my conference adventure will be just as compelling.  I hope I'll be able to see you there. The cool beverages will be on me!

Register for Conference today!