creative entrepreneur

5 Reasons to Attend a Conference in your Field by Jordan Hefler

5 Reasons to Attend a Conference in your Field | Jordan Hefler

So it's no secret that I am a very social person... I LIVE for networking events, conferences, ice breakers, meet-ups, etc. (I'm a sorority girl, DUH!) Especially since I am a creative that works from home- I totally crave the comradery that used to be taken for granted when I was in school. 

Something I've been really passionate about and look forward to every year is attending conferences that not only help me grow as a person and a creative, but also as a business owner. I have been rewarded tenfold from every conference I have attended, whether it was going to a local Student Council summer camp in high school, a national sorority convention in college, or traveling to New York with some friends to attend one of the biggest creative conferences, Create Cultivate.

5 Reasons to Attend a Conference in your Field | Jordan Hefler

Recently I was asked to teach part of my Mastering iPhoneography workshop in person at a Baton Rouge design conference called Crop, and it made me realize how much I really do just love the atmosphere at creative conferences. I mean, have you seen my video about the story behind "Do What You Want?" I talk about how going to a creative conference in New Orleans called Venture Pop helped me formulate that tag line...which is basically now a sub brand of my business.

I can't say enough how important it is to try and find events within your career scope (or maybe even out of it!) Below are my top 5 reasons why you need to pull the trigger, buy that ticket, and show up!

I AM SICK BUT I AM HERE! #VenturePop2017 @venturepopconf

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5 Reasons to Attend a Conference in your Field | Jordan Hefler
5 Reasons to Attend a Conference in your Field | Jordan Hefler

1. NETWORKING

So the most obvious reason to attend a conference is to network. People use this term loosely all of the time, but I seriously mean it... you hardcore network at conferences even if you aren't aware that you're doing it. When I was at SXSW (I was photographing more than I was really attending) every time I sat down to check my phone or grab some food I struck up a conversation with someone new. I met people from all over the world! At conferences such as Crop and Venture Pop, I have made countless connections which turned into business endeavors and later on, friendships. When I went to the New Orleans Entrepreneur Week alone, I sat next to this woman who talked to me for literally 2 minutes. We exchanged cards and a few months later I got a referral from her for a huge commercial photography assignment at a music festival.

This is probably the easiest way to make friends and connections in your field, especially if you show up to the conference alone. You'll get so many business cards from people and you should hand yours out as well! You never know what could come from it but you gotta go to make it happen in the first place!

Photo by  Trevor Mark

Photo by Trevor Mark

pow pow meeting internet friends IRL @nolanknight_ 😛 #SXSW

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2. GAINING INSPIRATION

Since I attend mostly creative conferences, this is a given. Regardless of your field, there's something you can takeaway from meeting other people who are working in a similar fashion as you. Fun tip- attend something that's a little out of your comfort zone if you want to gain even more inspiration! An example of this for me is Crop, the annual design conference in Baton Rouge. Graphic design makes up about 10% of my business but these people at Crop are LEGIT ARTISTS. I get so inspired every time just from being around people who are so passionate and talented...and then I'm just the token photographer who's there in the corner soaking everything up from the presentations. It opens up my mind when the conference is over and has me looking at my work from a different perspective, which can be refreshing.

5 Reasons to Attend a Conference in your Field | Jordan Hefler

3. AN EXCUSE TO TRAVEL

This is a big one. If you work for a company or in a corporate setting, see what types of conferences your work is willing to send you to! My boyfriend works in marketing and he's actually about to go to Las Vegas for a conference on behalf of his work next week. Um, COOL!? Conferences are legitimate business excuses to travel and if you can swing it to be part of your paid days that you would have been in the office, that's even better. For me, this is a bit daunting because I work for myself and end up having to foot the bill, but last year two friends and I went to New York for a conference and made a whole trip out of it. It was 100% worth it and I am always trying to see where I can go next! Definitely put some money aside because conferences are investments for not only your own personal growth, but the growth of your business.

4. LEARNING SOMETHING NEW

This kind of goes hand in hand with inspiration, but unlike inspiration this is applicable to the real world in an immediate way. People who speak at conferences are presenting for a reason- it's because they know what they're talking about and they are there to teach you something new. Take notes! I've learned so many tips and tricks from watching the presentations and just having casual conversations with people sitting around me. This can be so valuable for your business, especially if you work alone.

5 Reasons to Attend a Conference in your Field | Jordan Hefler

5. MARKETING

This one is a bit more relevant for those of you who are there to promote your own business, but nonetheless going to a conference in your field gives you a built in audience of people who *should* be interested in what you have to offer. Find out if you can contribute to putting your marketing materials in the "swag bags" given to everyone at the conference, or bring your own cards, stickers, or other materials to hand out to people throughout your time there. If you're in a position to, BECOME A SPONSOR OF THE EVENT. Boom, instant advertising for an already tailored audience! When I was asked to do my workshop in person, I was so excited because I immediately realized I would 1. be helping a ton of people at once by teaching what I knew, and 2. if nothing else get my name out there to people who may be interested in my work.

I hate using the word "exposure" but going to a conference is one of the most classic examples of this because it truly is a great way to get yourself out there and let your face/business/knowledge be seen and heard! I always like to post something with my face in it about being at the conference if I can, because then people who are searching that event's hashtag will know who I am and hopefully that leads to in person conversations. This strategy has really helped me connect with others online who are also at the conference! To take it even further, from a branding aspect I like to wear bright colors in some way so that people associate what they see on my Instagram with what I look like in person. When I was in New York this one girl actually came up to me and said she had seen my posts with the conference hashtag and figured that must be me because of the colorful shoes I was wearing!

What conferences have you attended that made a difference in your life or business? I'd love to hear, and you already know I'm always on the lookout for something new to attend!

5 Reasons to Attend a Conference in your Field | Jordan Hefler

5 Baton Rouge Creatives KILLING IT Right Now by Jordan Hefler

5 Baton Rouge Creatives KILLING IT Right Now | Jordan Hefler

I'm so inspired by what other people are doing all of the time. Sometimes it gets me playing the comparison game which can be dangerous, but generally as a creative I am excited to see what other creatives are doing! The next 5 people are Baton Rouge creatives that I LOVE LOVE LOVE and became aware of within the past 1-2 years.

In no particular order... enjoy looking up their work below!

Taylor Hunter

Taylor probably thinks I'm psycho by now because I am constantly fangirling over her photography. I love her eye for style and color in her work. She takes lifestyle portraiture into a direction that I am always so impressed with. I also love her tones when she edits! BIG FAN. See more of her work here!

Chase Mullen

I always say this but Chase is like a freaking GOD when it comes to painting. His work is so hyper realistic yet minimal at the same time. He specializes in painting local Louisiana nature scenes but does it in a way where it's removed from the background. His work is incredible, especially when you see the extreme detail in person. I am always blown away by what he comes up with.

Details 🎟

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Toni Terry

Toni is a complete BADASS hairdresser and makeup artist that I met through a mutual friend recently. We hit it off right from the get go and now I have the pleasure of photographing her and she does my hair! I love how strong she is and how much of a professional businesswoman she is. She has this really cool story about having to renovate her salon after the detrimental flooding that happened in Baton Rouge in 2016. I look up to her so much and love to get together and talk business with her. She's a total girlboss and if you need a hairdresser in BR her work is amazing- she just gets it.

Thomas Wimberly

If you follow me on Instagram, you know I'm obsessed with everything Thomas does. I have one of his giant paintings in my living room and it's basically the focal point of my home! His work is super clean and I'm a big fan of both his color and black and white pieces. We have a lot of crossover with music interests I feel like, and that makes me even more invested in his work. Definitely check out his page if you're into design. 

Sundaze #process

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The Powerpump Girls (Raina Vallot & Sherin Dawud)

Ok so this technically makes this list 6 Baton Rouge creatives, but the Powerpump Girls duo could not be left out. These girls are complete go getters. Not only do they have their own event planning business, they decided to create The Powerpump Girls as an organization to help empower women and connect them with each other. They are even planning a creative conference! I fully stand behind everything they do...and they do it with such baller style. I definitely recommend subscribing to their email newsletter if you want a little pop of inspiration and motivation on a weekly basis!

5 Baton Rouge Creatives KILLING IT Right Now | Jordan Hefler