What it feels like to help organize a conference.

When I first attended SUPCONF in NYC last November I described it as finding my tribe. I had finally found other folks who were passionate about customer support, and who got my every day.

In the months that followed this trip to New York I became more involved in the Support Driven community, and in the Spring SUPCONF planning. Going from a conference attendee to an organizer is has been an exciting and educational transition. Here’s what I’ve learned.

A whole lot of prep goes in to events

As an obsessive planner, I knew that well planned events take a lot of work, but I was amazed throughout the entire process just how much work goes in to planning a two day conference.

As a group of folks who would rather over-plan than panic on the day of, we spent a lot of time thinking about details, and asking the community what they thought of the ideas.

Before I started helping organize SUPCONF, I figured I wouldn’t be much help — because I’d never have earth-shattering ideas to contribute. The magic is that I don’t have to. I get the pleasure of listening to the community, and then executing their ideas.

We have an amazing community

Speaking of community — we have an awesome one. Tons of volunteers come together before, during, and after the event to make it happen. Even more community members give us their well crafted thoughts and feedback to every experiment we try.

Outside of that, every single person I interact with in the community and at the conference is amazing. I continue to be thankful to get to hang out with such an inspiring group of folks.

The exciting part about SUPCONF is that I get to hang out with them in real life. Even though spending time with lots of people isn’t really my thing, the Support Driven community is full of the most welcoming people — and the most understanding, making it possible for even a hyper-introvert like myself to be able to network, hang out, and enjoy the interactions.

https://supportdriven.smugmug.com/SUPCONF/SUPCONF-Spring-2017/i-xD7rWwX/A

Being an organizer helps ease introductions and makes connections easier

One of my favorite things about being an organizer is that it makes it easier for me to meet people. This is true for a few reasons:

  • I have an excuse to talk to people — anxiety in new social situations is a huge factor for me. Being an organizer, I feel like I have more of a reason to walk up to people and talk to them. This eases my introductions and my social anxiety.
  • People know who I am — I am in no way in this for fame, but the fact that people recognize me and have a reason to walk up to me for things makes for less awkward introductions that I have to make myself.
  • I feel more in control — knowing more about what is going on behind the scenes helps me to be able to relax about the details, and enjoy the time with others

Side note — SUPCONF is a super easy event for networking, even for those (like me) who think networking seems like the worst thing in the world. The event is designed with introverts in mind, and this makes a world of difference.

https://supportdriven.smugmug.com/SUPCONF/SUPCONF-Spring-2017/i-JcVk8XV/A

Most importantly — it’s still fun, even when you’ve seen the magic behind the curtain

One of my fears about becoming an organizer for SUPCONF was that it wouldn’t be fun after I had “seen the magic behind the curtain.”

The truth is — it was even more fun.

I loved watching folks discover everything we had set up for the conference, and see them play out in real time.

From watching fellow introverts light up as I told them about the armbands to help ease social interactions, to helping pair people at dinnertime so no one had to eat alone, watching the ideas we’d spent months planning coming to life was even more magical.

These wristbands helped ease networking — yellow for “ready to chat” and black for “I need a few moments, please”

So — was it worth it?

Attending SUPCONF as an organizer was a fully different experience — but it was totally worth it. I was able to continue to make awesome connections within the Support Driven community, learn from my fellow community members, and, best of all, I got to throw in my helping hand as well.


Support Driven is an online Slack community of folks passionate about making a career out of Customer Support. IRL we do events like SUPCONF and (coming soon) SDX to help folks in our community network, make deeper connections and learn from each other.

Does this sound like you? We’d love to have you along!


Do you want to help make something awesome for our community? We’d love your help at SDX!