Each Friday on this blog I enjoy highlighting some of the cool things my friends do in their personal and professional lives.
Last week I had the pleasure of attending the National Speakers Association Annual Convention. This was the 5th year I have participated in this event, and I credit NSA with much of my success in the speaking business. It is not so much the organization, as it is the cool people I have come to call my friends. These people inspire me, share ideas, refer business, and lead by example on how to find your way in this quirky industry.
The first time I attended an NSA Conference I knew nobody. I arrived at the hotel to find over 1000 speakers, and being new to the business, I felt lost in the crowd. While there was a "First Timers Reception", there was too much going on for me to grasp (and I teach people how to connect at events!). Not that the group was any more "cliquey" than other associations, I just felt as though I was not included.
That first day I encountered a group called NSA XY. This was a group of speakers my age and younger who had formed a peer community for those in Generations X and Y (born 1964 or later). While some of these "younger" speakers had been in the business for decades (I wish I had begun my speaking career in my 20's), others were newer to the profession (like me). They were welcoming and instantly I began developing connections that today are some of my most important friendships.
Too often associations can seem overwhelming by their size. As groups grow, they can lose that family feeling that is part of why people stay involved in organizations. Creating peer communities allows people to have something tangible. When members feel connected, they are more likely to stay engaged and give back to the organization. What is exciting is to see so many of my friends now taking leadership roles in the greater organization.
While I enjoy all the benefits of my NSA membership, my involvement in NSA XY has been the reason I stay active and have never missed an annual convention. This year I had the honor of being asked to serve on the XY Board, and I have attended my first NSA XY Meet Up in Chicago (informal regional gatherings of peer who discuss important topics in a day-long facilitated discussion format). I have also joined a formal Mastermind Group that was created with some of my XY peers (although this mastermind is not only comprised of XY folks). The XY group also hosts educational Google + Hangouts twice a month where we discuss industry topics (these are open to all NSA Members, and are recorded for those who want to view them later.... as the group is not designed to be exclusive, but rather as a peer group that is in full support of the greater organization).
My "Cool Things My Friends Do" blog post this week is dedicated to my peers in NSA XY who all do such cool things in their careers and who have gone out of their way to help me find a home inside this large and diverse association. I have seen many of them present live (when any of them are in Austin, TX it is my goal to get to their presentation if I am in town) and I try to refer them to meeting planners who are seeking speakers on any variety of topics.
Few people outside the meetings industry realize that the business of speaking is made up of amazing professionals who are extremely dedicated to having positive impacts on the lives of their audiences. I applaud these friends who have helped me learn and grow in this business.... and I thank them for helping me maximize my membership in the National Speakers Association.
If you belong to any industry association, find your "warm nest of friends". Creating meaningful connections with your peers will have a positive impact on your career.
Have A Great Day