It’s so important to show up. If you show up at one event and then the next and then another… people start to expect to see you there. By showing up enough times, you become part of the fabric of your community. It’s not the same without you. And, when you are absent, you are missed.
Showing up has many other important, useful, meaningful side effects, too. It gives you unobstructed access to people, information, ideas – people and things you might not have had access to otherwise.
Oh, and believe me, I get it… sometimes it is hard to commit to showing up. Whether a meeting or an event is near or far, sometimes, all you want to do is go home and cuddle up with a good book or in front of the TV. Other times, one must go to great personal expense to show up – whether that means a long drive, a plane ride, a registration fee, missing work, being absent from family or the like.
I find, however, that when I do bother to show up, miraculous things happen.
Earlier this year, I was invited to be a speaker at the St. Louis Business Journal’s 8th Annual Women’s Conference. And, WOW! What an event! About 900 participants eagerly filed into the Union Station Hotel ballroom to listen to keynoters such as Pattie Sellers, editor-at-large for Fortune Magazine and co-chair for the Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit, and Tiffany Dufu, now of Levo League. The energy was amazing and I met hundreds of women – a few with whom I have already engaged in collaborations and/or conducted business.
Yes, I took a day-and-a-half off of work to be there. Yes, I drove 250 miles each way to attend. Yes, it took some effort to be there, but boy-oh-boy was it worth it! I cannot think of another obvious place to have met and had meaningful dialogues with, in addition to Pattie and Tiffany, Ellen Sherberg (publisher of the St. Louis Business Journal), Maxine Clark (founder of Build-A-Bear Workshop), Greta Schulz (speaker, trainer and coach for Schulz Business SELLutions) among many others, all in one place. Definitely worth my time.
Then, in February, it happened again. It was a Wednesday… it was dark and cold and snowing… I already live 25 miles from my office and I was headed five more miles in the opposite direction from home. Bottom line: I didn’t want to go to the networking event I had committed to. But I went. I walked in; things were already underway. It seemed as if it would take great effort to strike up a conversation with anyone since “everyone” had already connected with others. But I dove in. I stayed at that event for 45 minutes. While there, I had four meaningful, detailed, important conversations. Of the four people I visited with, within a month, I had transacted business with two of them. With the other two, I’ve been in contact – I’m planning collaborations with them both. Again, definitely worth my time.
So, if you have an opportunity to show up, do. When you get there, for however long you stay, be very present. It will be a “present” to yourself in the long run!