I've been away from home for just over 24 hours now.
My train left yesterday morning and I arrived in Philadelphia around lunchtime. This is a big conference with a lot of very nice, very competent people. I'm pretty easy to pick out. I'm the one fumbling around, trying to find her footing - literally and figuratively.
Because I have determined that I am really out of practice.
I'm out of practice in networking.
I can make small talk. I can trade anecdotes. I can talk about books, food, family, friends. I can be friendly. But networking? I have realized that I'm definitely out of practice. It's tricky for me to move the conversation into a "business" sort of place. I managed, but I'm pretty sure my subtext was screaming "I don't know what I'm doing!!!!!"
I'm out of practice in promoting myself.
I'm not sure why, but it's like it's in my nature to be somewhat disparaging. I'm apologizing for my stats. Apologizing for my audience. Cringing when I introduce myself as a "mommy blogger". Most of the time, I do manage to mentally kick myself and turn it around, talking about growth and how my readers are engaged, and successes that I've had. But I don't lead with that, and I can't seem to make myself.
I'm out of practice in being an adult professional.
I made the transition to staying home about eighteen months ago. In that time, I do speak to many adults. But they fit into two categories: "familiar" (friends and family) and other parents. I'm not speaking as a professional. I'm not used to discussing data, market strategy, best practices (unless those best practices are tantrum taming or potty training).
Even when I was working, I was a teacher. The education field is becoming more and more about data, but that wasn't where I had the best conversations. The best conversations were about the kids.
I'm out of practice in dressing to impress.
I was one of those teachers who was happy in her heels. I had several pairs of shoes that looked great and were completely comfortable. I had business casual clothes that fit well and were versatile enough to look professional while allowing me to sit on the floor.
I'm not quite sure how it happened, but when I was going through my closet, attempting to pack, I had three pairs of pants that were not jeans, not khakis, and not yoga pants, that fit. Three. Oddly, they were a mix of sizes. Still, that didn't leave me a lot of options.
Warning - if you don't like at looking at pictures of blisters, go ahead and close this page. I won't be offended. I took the picture solely to text to Adam, who thought I was being a baby. He quickly responded that I was whining a completely appropriate amount.
I'm not an idiot. I know that any conference means you are on your feet all day. I get that. Adam's first piece of advice was "wear comfortable shoes". Duh.
So I wore comfortable shoes. Good quality, low heeled, well supported, brand name shoes. I wore these shoes daily while teaching - even when pregnant. I jumped up and down. I folk danced in my classroom. I was on my feet all day, and never had a mark to show for it.
By 3:00 yesterday, my feet were a blistered mess. While walking back to the convention center after checking into the hotel, the first thing I did was to stop at Walgreens and buy bandaids and blister block.
Today I stopped at Macy's and bought flip flops. I give up.
My feet are definitely out of practice.
Yes, mom, it was a great experience, I learned a lot, I feel like I have a good handle on using affiliates in a really quality, authentic way. No one tried to get me to sell my soul, no one tried to steal my identity, and I'm glad I came.
But I'm excited to get back to the land of yoga pants, sneakers, and my family!
I'll practice wearing real shoes and passing out business cards another time.
Thank you again to Glitter Network, who provided me with a pass to the conference and some great advice on how to make the best use of affiliate networks. If you are a blogger, check them out!