Tips for your first SourceCon and what I learned from mine

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Feb 14, 2024

In 2023, I attended my first in-person SourceCon event. I was blown away by the knowledge shared by every presenter and person I met, the variety of networking opportunities, and the amount of skills still left to be mastered. I was even overwhelmed at times.

Tip 1: Be Brave!

Over the years, I have attended virtual SourceCons and other virtual events, learning from some of the best in the industry. I have even bought some of their books. On day 1, I remember sitting there at breakfast, sipping my coffee and seeing all of them in person. It took a lot of courage to walk up, say hi, and introduce myself. I was star-struck. I was left speechless for the first time. How does an extrovert become an introvert overnight?

I want to encourage everyone to take a deep breath and get out there. Talk to as many people as possible. Everyone I talked to was very friendly and welcoming. I wish I would have done it more. I know I was awkward for the people I worked up the courage to talk to, and I apologize for that! I will be better next time.

Tip 2: Connect! Connect! Connect!

I met many people who I knew, but they didn’t know me, and many new people who were all knowledgeable. Everyone I met had ideas, recommendations, and solutions to the challenges I was experiencing. I listened at the round tables where experts were helping experts, attendees helped attendees, and it was terrific. Everyone was sharing knowledge and taking knowledge in. I made many excellent connections at the round tables. Participate and be engaged. Be willing to learn and share your knowledge too! You never know who you can help; the SourceCon community is about helping each other.

I wish I would have done a better job staying connected to people after the event. If I am honest with myself, I am not good at this in my personal life either – my work in progress. There is a small handful of people I have reached out to when I have gotten stuck, and they have all been very helpful, but I plan on being better at follow-up after the event in 2024 and beyond. I want to do better at building connections, making new friends, and creating relationships where we can help each other more. Use this opportunity to build long-term relationships with other professionals in the industry. Connect and stay connected!

Tip 3: Take notes and watch the recordings!

There is a lot of knowledge thrown at you all at once. Take notes, but also take advantage of the recordings. Listen to the various sessions intentionally. I re-watched the recordings of the sessions months later and still learned something new that I missed the first time. Dedicate time to do this when they come out. You won’t be disappointed. Don’t be so focused on taking too many notes that you miss the good stuff! Be a sponge, listen, and jot down a few things that excited you.

Tip 4: You can only do some of it!

Choose 3 – 5 tips, tricks, or changes to your process to focus on for 2024 after the event. There is a lot, and you won’t be able to do it all. Break away at it in chunks. I was a little overwhelmed and confused about where to start with all this new knowledge. Someone I met at the conference gave me a tip that helped me. I created a list of everything I learned and wanted to implement into my processes, team, and day-to-day. Almost one year later, I am still chipping away at that list. Choose the low-hanging fruit first and work your way down your list. Be kind to yourself; you won’t be able to do it all at once, and that is ok!

Tip 5: Go to the hackathon!

This part of the conference was the most humbling experience. I walked in feeling confident. I told myself that I knew how to source and write strong Boolean strings and could find anything online. I was taught by all the most excellent X-Ray searchers out there! I overestimated my skills. I was wrong. It wasn’t easy, but it was a lot of fun. Overcoming all the challenges was exciting and educational; the people I met there were terrific. I even went back afterward to try to complete it all. You will learn a lot, find gaps and opportunities for personal growth, and meet great people. Take advantage of this opportunity. It was worth it.

Going from an extrovert to an introvert overnight who was extremely nervous to talk to people, to executing some of the most awkward conversations (my fault), to the hackathon was a little soul-crushing in a good way. I grew a lot and realized I could be doing more. I learned I had gaps in places I didn’t know existed. I didn’t just learn sourcing skills. I learned networking skills, team-building skills, and leadership skills. And overall, how to be a better person and help others. Everyone at SourceCon was unbelievable. I can’t wait to do it again!

In summary:

  1. Be kind to yourself.
  2. Stay humble.
  3. Be brave.
  4. Be open to learning.
  5. Share your knowledge with others.
  6. Listen.
  7. Build long-term relationships.
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