In case you didn't know, I’ve been working remotely from Charlotte, NC for the last six months. While working remotely suits our team well (we’ve had team members all over the country), I do miss daily interactions with my coworkers in the office.
I was super excited at the chance to break out of the home office last week and head to Tiny Giant, a one-day UX conference in uptown Charlotte. The conference is a spinoff of the 4-day long Giant Conference, and had all the same benefits of a full-weekend conference: well organized, exciting location (the Mint Museum uptown), a great speaker list, an after party, and lots of breaks to network.
After Tiny Giant, I just kept thinking “I wish there were more events like this!”. Here’s why:
More feasible than a typical conference. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE design conferences. I generally attend 2-3 a year, and if you read through the related posts at the bottom you can see that I always leave inspired and filled with ideas for my work. However, it’s very hard to attend these more than twice a year. It takes a ton of planning to coordinate travel, how you’ll get around during the conference, eating, etc., and being on point to network for 3-4 days is exhausting. It was great not to think about anything beforehand for this event other than what speakers I wanted to hear, and at the end of the day head home to eat dinner with my family and sleep in my own bed.
A great refresher. I didn’t hear anything spectacularly new during the talks at this conference (sorry speakers!). However, they all served as great reminders for what I want to be achieving with my design work. Since it's tough to make it to more than a couple conferences a year, it's hard to keep the momentum going. These short conferences are perfect for making the inspiration stick throughout the year and reminding you of your design goals.
Network with those that live nearby. One of the biggest perks of a conference is that you get to meet and talk with others in your industry. At a typical conference, attendees will be from all over the country, or world. While it provides an amazing opportunity to meet others you wouldn’t before, it’s likely you won’t see those people again outside of social media until next year’s conference. Since this conference was only held on a Friday, it was pitched more locally. While attendees certainly could have traveled in, most I met were from Charlotte or the surrounding areas. It was great to meet others I could see again and build a relationship with throughout the year.
So if you see a one-day conference (or even shorter) event pop up in your area, I highly recommend you attend. It’s a great way boost your skills, get inspired, and network with others in your area between the big conferences. Here's to seeing more events like this in 2015!