The Net Impact Conference in Portland, Oregon was one of the most exciting weekend trips and conferences I have ever had the honor of attending. The energy buzzing around the convention center was amazing and the new people I met were inspiring. From the expo to the many, diverse lectures and workshops to the social events, the organizers of Net Impact thought of everything. The conference amenities were a treat.
The first night we arrived there was a NI party put on by the Portland State NI club at a warehouse/loft party space. The atmosphere was hip, modern and fun. Downstairs in the basement there was a slew of sustainable product promotions and organizations represented; including several models of the newest hybrid cars. Hybrid cars are definitely getting sexier, thank goodness. Upstairs, hors d’oeuvres were served, local live bands played music up on a balcony and people did some serious networking over cocktails. Networking is no joke, it is sport. At the party I learned that a business card is a ‘must-have’ at events such as this. Never having a job that could be considered part of a career track, at 24 I’d never thought of business cards. Side note: I got some online for free when I got back on www.vistaprint.com , check it out. Plus now I feel super official carrying around business cards, a definite confidence builder. …Next step is playing golf with the ‘execs’ : )
Moving past commentary on business stereotypes, there is a lot to share about the individual workshop sessions. The many (all sounded really interesting and I was in choice overload all weekend), sessions were split into seven tracks of interest concentrations. These were: career and professional development, corporate impact, energy and clean tech, environment and natural resources, finance and investing, international development, and social innovation. I dabbled in all of the tracks, why commit? But mostly I wanted to attend as many career and professional development sessions as possible. It was a good decision too. While, I think those who came to the conference with a specific focus got a lot of in depth knowledge. However, as a perpetual generalist I still found great value in exploring and giving myself the space to explore possible career avenues. The career workshops equipped me with many models and tools to help in discovering my passions and their link to my career purpose. If you are in the same investigative stage as me check out:
http://morethanmoneycareers.com/ . It is so helpful because the home page shows a table that helps you break down the different functions within businesses and the different types of organizations. This helps you decide what job and in what sector you want to focus and search.
Lastly, Please go to: http://vimeo.com/channels/netimpactconference , in order to view the conference keynote speeches. They were too good to miss!
So…it is January 2012, almost exactly three months after the conference. What do I look back on and view as most memorable? What did I learn there that I have applied now that I am back in my day-to-day life? This question is most important because conferences about social change tend to leave people amped up in the experience, for a few moments feeling endless possibility. This is vital to keeping your inspiration and energy levels up in order to do your work, especially for sustainability champions. However, at home when your routine is reinstated and reality kicks in again, you are left with the question: what did I take from my conference experience that will matter the most to my life in a pragmatic way?
Here are mine:
~I went to a workshop at the conference that led me to read More Than Money by Mark Albion (one of the founders of Net Impact) which I am using for my practicum project
~I contacted a few of the people I met at the conference in hopes of continued dialogue. It adds to my growing network of people who are doing innovative work
~I was inspired to really use the Net Impact site resources and have been getting great information as well as using the job board
~I made a folder of all the papers, brochures of organizations, cards of attendees and notes that I took during workshops/speeches at the conference which will act as a valuable resource in the future.
Next year, the conference is much closer…in Baltimore! Let’s all go, representing Antioch! Team MBA! The more that attend, the more crazy, fun there will be to be had….
P.S. the Portland Breweries were quite impressive…from a business stance I mean : ). Check out this epic place Rosie, Mike, I and some new conference friends went one evening. It is a school that has been transformed into a space for breweries