When I first found out I was awarded a scholarship to attend the 2021 NACE Experience Annual Conference, I was over the moon excited and then the anxiety set it. I had only been to one event industry conference before and I found it to be extremely overwhelming. I was excited and overwhelmed but ready to travel to Vegas for my first NACE Experience.

Attending the 2021 NACE Experience turned out to be a game-changing experience for me and for my business. I want to share with you 5 expectations I had heading to the conference and what the actual experience was like in hopes of encouraging more members to attend next year.

  1. Expectation: There would be a lot of attendees and I would just be one in the many and not able to make true connections.
    • Actual Experience: This expectation could not have been farther from the truth. While there were several hundred attendees, I did not feel like I was on an island all alone. Not only was the entire DFW NACE Board super accommodating and helpful they made sure to introduce me to members from other chapters and helped me to expand my network. Everyone at the conference was very friendly and looking to meet new people and make genuine connections. This experience felt more like a family reconnecting, excited to see one another again and eager to welcome newcomers into the fold. The board hosted a chapter dinner making sure we had intimate time together as a chapter to fellowship and really connect with each other on a more personal level.
  2. Expectation:  The number of sessions to choose from would be overwhelming and I would not get to attend all the sessions that would best benefit my experience.
    • Actual Experience: The conference had a plethora of sessions to choose from with a robust choice of topics ranging from events trends and business, event design, inclusiveness, catering trends, effective marketing and so much more. No topic was left untouched. The session descriptions were concise and very accurate in describing what the attendee would learn in each session. This allowed attendees to select the sessions that they would truly benefit from and not have FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) feeling like they were missing out on important content because they choose the wrong session based on the description.
  3. Expectation: The information presented would be all fluff without much substance.
    • Actual Experience: The presenters were all well rounded and they presented helpful strategies and provided actionable steps that attendees could implement into their businesses immediately upon returning from the conference. The question and answer sessions were very beneficial and allowed the presenters and attendees to dig deeper and get tips and suggestions that could truly make an impact on their businesses and the industry as a whole.
  4. Expectation: After the education sessions were complete for the day everyone would retreat to their rooms and call it a night.
    • Actual Experience: After making some true and genuine connections during the day it didn’t stop there. Everyone wanted to feed and nurture those relationships even more. There were several hosted events, and the entertainment, food, and experience did not disappoint. The hosted events were a true representation of what our industry is all about and the amazing amount of talent and creativity we all have within us.
  5. Expectation: I would leave the conference the same way I came.
    • Actual Experience:  This is the biggest misconception I had. I left the conference inspired and ready to take my business to a whole new level. Attending the NACE ONE Awards Gala left me wanting more and desiring more for myself and my business. It was exciting to celebrate and cheer on our DFW chapter members as they were awarded for their work and contribution to our amazing industry. I left with a sense of pride, feeling proud to be a small representation of our amazing chapter.

So, as a first-time conference attendee, I encourage you to take the leap and attend the 2022 NACE Experience Conference. Other conferences do not measure the level of education, fellowship, and community you will experience. It’s the conference where no one walks alone and there is always a hand extended to help you learn, grow, and thrive. See you next year at NACE Experience 2022… Orlando here we come!!

Shamica Sweat
Owner/Lead Planner and  Designer, Shamica & Co.
DFW NACE Committee Member