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NACE National Experience Conference: Expectations vs. Actual Experience

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

Making The Most Of Your NACE Membership

Being a member of the DFW Chapter of NACE is an investment in both time and money. But man, I can tell you, it is well worth both! The more invested you are with the organization, the more you will get out of it. Here are a few tips on how you can get the most out of your membership. 

  1. Join A Committee
    • This is by far the number one way to get the most of your membership. This gets you one-on-one interaction with other industry leaders that you simply can not get anywhere else. There is something about being on a team and seeing your work come to fruition for the industry that we all love that is incomparable. With sooo many different opportunities on the committees to do so many different things, I promise you will be able to find something that you will enjoy. From doing something you love to learning something new, to expressing your talents – the committees have it all. The relationships you build and the personal growth you will experience are all amazing!
  2. Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone
    • For extroverts, the thought of networking is exciting, but for people like me that tend to be more introverted, meeting strangers can be daunting, to say the least. Getting out of your comfort zone and meeting new people during the cocktail hours of our meetings, sitting at a table next to people you don’t know are two very good ways to not only get to know other professionals but for them to get to know you too. 
  3. Show Up
    • So, this one may be obvious, but I’ll say it anyway – simply show up. Every time you show up to a NACE meeting or event you will get to know more people, build stronger industry relationships, and have an opportunity to express what makes you and your business unique. We are a really fun group, we love to support each other, we love to get to know others in our industry. We want you to attend our events because we love seeing you and want to be part of your success!

I joined NACE almost 10 years ago – I was nervous, I was shy, it was hard for me to meet new people. As uncomfortable as it was, I showed up, got out of my comfort zone, and joined different committees. This all led to me finding the most success I have had in my ‘long’ career. These three suggestions are all things that any member can do and I promise that you will get more out of your membership than you ever thought possible. 

Adam Wilmore
Treasurer of DFW NACE

Member Spotlight: Marlene Faulkner

Knife & Faulk

Tell us about your business or the work you do

My company, Knife & Faulk provides boutique-style catering for weddings, private parties, social and corporate events as well as cooking workshops for individuals and groups led by Chef Marlene Faulkner.  Specializing in Modern American cuisine, Knife and Faulk showcases the art of combining fresh ingredients with culinary excellence by creating customized menus that highlight any event.  This attention to detail helps to create some of the most memorable experiences for clients.

What do you love most about the work you do?

I thoroughly enjoy creating food experiences and connecting with people.  Entertaining is a lifestyle and being able to share my passion for food and entertaining is what I love most. 

What Committee are you on for NACE and what do you do?

I am a part of the Communications Committee specifically with Social Media. 

Which best describes you? Iphone/Mac, Iphone/PC, Android/Mac, Android/PC?

Android/Mac 

When you’re not working, what are you doing?

I enjoy spending lots of time with my husband and daughters, volunteering in the community and at my local church, and entertaining friends and family.  I also enjoy learning and reading.

Tell us one thing on your bucket list

To travel throughout Europe. 

Is there a song you wish they would stop playing at events?

Not really.  The songs that are played at events create pretty specific memories for others and help me to reflect on how much things have changed.

If you had one extra hour of free time a day, how would you use it?

It’s so important to disconnect sometimes and find ways to just be.  I’d find a way to do just that.

Lauren’s Top 5 Tips for Networking

Let’s be honest….networking is hard work. It is especially hard work since we spent the last year with the least amount of human interaction we have had in our lives.  Knowing how to effectively network is key to building professional relationships and in today’s crowded job market, the phrase, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”, could not be more true. NACE Experience is next week, so here are some tips to help guide you through effective business networking and dipping your toes into the people pond again! 

  1. Understand your goal
    • What are you wanting to accomplish with networking and your relationships? Is it building your client database? Honing in on a future job or career path? Maybe it’s just for casual talk and conversation. Whatever it is, try to keep in mind the WHY behind what you are doing. It can help guide your conversation and determine your follow up afterwards as well.  
  2. Relax and keep in mind, we are all a little uncomfortable. 
    • Networking and meeting new people can be scary and intimidating. Remember, it is not just you that feels that way. The people you are meeting and speaking to are ALSO a little nervous. So, take a deep breathe and try to be as cool, calm and collected as possible. 
  3. Keep it relatable! 
    • Keep your conversation relatable and interesting to the person you are meeting.  This way it not only makes the conversation more fun and engaging for you both, but it makes it easier to remember who you have met and what they do and how it relates to you as well! How can you help them? Make sure the conversation is not just about you, your job, your career, but about them, how you can help and work with them as well. 
  4. Document your connections
    • After meeting a few people, take the time to document who they are, where they work or what they do and their contact information. At NACE Experience, you will be on system overload, so do not rely on yourself to remember it all. Have a system in place to take notes or document your valuable information. 
  5. Follow up! 
    • This tip seems the easiest, but it is the most forgotten. Follow up with your new friends! Touch base with them, send a quick note, email, text or call soon after arriving home from conference. And make it a point to keep in touch with them.  Again, our relationships have incredible influence in our careers and this is a great way to strengthen opportunities for yourself and others.  

I am so excited to see everyone at the NACE National Conference in Vegas, and at our monthly DFW NACE meetings. And I hope these tips & tricks can help with your business and professional relationships. Please realize that you might be a little rusty and it might feel more uncomfortable than you remember, but don’t let that stop you! Meet some new people and squeeze the ones you already know (safely). Our event industry is dependent on strong, healthy relationships, so let’s do it! 

“Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.” – Bill Nye 

 

Lauren Twichell
Owner of Painting with a Twist Rockwall
President-Elect of DFW NACE

Member Spotlight: Shamica Sweat

Tell us about your business or the work you do.

My name is Shamica Sweat and I am the owner and lead planner at Shamica & Co. Event Planning and Design. We specialize in planning and designing curated wedding experiences.

What do you love most about the work you do?

What I love most about what I do is helping clients bring their wedding day visions to life while creating an event experience for the client and their guests.  

What Committee are you on for NACE and what do you do?

I currently serve on both the Communication and Fundraising Committees.

Which best describes you? Iphone/Mac, Iphone/PC, Android/Mac, Android/PC?

I am an Apple girl all the way, iPhone and Mac.

When you’re not working, what are you doing?

When I am not working I am enjoying time with my husband and kiddos, hanging out, and exploring new things. 

Tell us one thing on your bucket list.

One of the things on my bucket list is to go on a dune buggy tour in the deserts of Dubai.

Is there a song you wish they would stop playing at events?

I love all types of music and don’t really have a song I wish they would stop playing at weddings. A song I wish they would play at every wedding is Tennessee Whiskey. I love the beat and cadence of the song. 

If you had one extra hour of free time a day, how would you use it?

If I had an extra hour in the day I would spend it shopping. 

Member Spotlight: Chris Horace

Tell us about your business or the work you do:

My name is Chris Horace and I am the Director of Events and DJ for Inkredible Sounds. We are a full service entertainment production company for weddings, proms, and corporate events. 

What do you love most about the work you do?

I love seeing everyone smiling and have a great time on the dance floor. 

What Committee are you on for NACE and what do you do?

I am currently apart of the communications committee and my main duties at the time is update the DFW NACE website, approving members to the online directory, and uploading the events to the facebook page. 

Which best describes you? Iphone/Mac, Iphone/PC, Android/Mac, Android/PC?

All of my personal devices are Apple! 

When you’re not working, what are you doing?

Enjoying a cookies and cream shake or talking on the phone.

Tell us one thing on your bucket list

I would love to travel out the country to Japan. 

Is there a song you wish they would stop playing at events?

If I had to choose one song if would be the Macarena, I believe its one of top 5 most played songs at any event. 

If you had one extra hour of free time a day, how would you use it?

Netflix and Chill 

Member Spotlight: Robin Benson Linek

Tell us about your business or the work you do:

I’m the special events manager at the Meadows Museum, SMU. The museum’s vision is to be the leading center in the United States for exhibition, research and education in the arts and culture of Spain.  I plan museum events, create video content through my weekly web series, Culture Corner, and handle the museum’s facility rental business. 

What do you love most about the work you do?

I love to tell stories through events.  I love the creative aspect of my work and making engaging experiences (both virtually and in-person) to delight museum stakeholders.

What Committee are you on for NACE and what do you do?

I’ve just joined the communications committee.  I help to manage DFW-NACE’s presence on social media.

Which best describes you? Iphone/Mac, Iphone/PC, Android/Mac, Android/PC?

iPhone,  Mac for home/PC for work

When you’re not working, what are you doing?

I’m usually running (while listening to an audio book) or at barre class. My husband and I love to go to theater, watch movies, and spend time with our dogs and cat. 

Tell us one thing on your bucket list

A trip to India. 

Is there a song you wish they would stop playing at events?

We see a lot of Spanish guitar at my venue. Unfortunately, some guitarists choose to play “Rainbow Connection” over and over again.

If you had one extra hour of free time a day, how would you use it?

I’d spend it exploring my neighborhood and trying new places.

Legends of NACE: Terry Shields

Tell us about your business or the work you do. 

I design and produce events for client’s special occasions in their lives that will create a lasting memory.

What year did you join NACE? 

May 24, 2000

How do you define success?

Everyone measures success differently and life is a series of successes…and sometimes failures.  However, no one is a success on their own.  It takes the support of friends and family that gives you the positive drive to be successful.  In the hospitality industry you have to have the best and most reputable industry contacts on your “team” when designing and producing special events for you to be known as  a success in this industry.

What would the title of your autobiography be?

The Nobelist Art is That of Making Others Happy!

Tell us your favorite NACE memory.

While I have been blessed with so many great moments and memories the favorite has to be hearing my name announced as the 2011 National Caterer of the Year Award recipient and to have my Dallas NACE family with me for the presentation.

Advice for newer members of NACE?

Passion…Perseverance…Patience!  Have a deep passion for the industry and what you do…Persevere through the highest of highs and the lowest of lows in order to stay grounded as a person…Have Patience while building your foundation of industry contacts as well as your reputation as a leader in the industry. 

Over the years what is the most important thing you have gained through NACE?

Overall NACE does an incredible job with education.  Anyone can find a speaker or topic of interest no matter at what level of experience you are at in your career.  However, I find the most important thing that I gain through NACE is the many relationships I have through NACE, both in Dallas and throughout the nation!  These are not only people that I work with on events but people that I get counsel from as well as people that are like family…no matter how infrequently we see each other.

Member Spotlight: Kathryn Krieger

Tell us about your business or the work that you do: I am the owner of Pucker Up Impressions & my team and I provide stellar personalized entertainment services of a wide variety for events.

What do you love most about the work that you do: My clients. I have some of the BEST clients & they keep me motivated when I have days where I’d rather just play with my kids.

What Committee are you on for NACE & what do you do? I am on the Communications Committee & I help create the Legends of NACE, Meet the Board and Member Spotlight Blog Posts. My goal for communications is to help all our members feel appreciated and recognized.

Which best describes you? Iphone/Mac, Iphone/PC, Android/Mac, Android/PC? I LOVE my MAC, but I despise IPhones. LOL Totally an android girl – hence why I created this question! Haha!

When you’re not working, what are you doing? Playing with my kids, being outdoors, creating fun crafts.

Tell us one thing on your bucket list: Paragliding

Is there a song you wish they would stop playing at events? Quite a few actually. . . LOL – hard to just pick one. . .

If you had one extra hour of free time a day, how would you use it? So many options!! Probably be Outside or crafting or reading or exercising or meditating or, or, or! So many fun things to do in life!

Member Spotlight: John Martin

Tell us about your business or the work you do: I am one of 3 owners of On The Levee Event Venue

What do you love most about the work you do? I love the excitement of a day of the event.  Seeing everything come together.

What Committee are you on for NACE and what do you do? I am on the Communications Committee. I’m not very good at this, but I’m trying to go outside my comfort zone.

Which best describes you? Iphone/Mac, Iphone/PC, Android/Mac, Android/PC? Iphone guy but I use a PC for work…I’m good with both.

When you’re not working, what are you doing? I own a venue I’m never off..JK I play ultimate frisbee and go to the lake. Love wakeboarding and surfing.

Tell us one thing on your bucket list: Travel Europe for a month.

Is there a song you wish they would stop playing at events? My events have been all over the map so no 1 song gets over played to be honest.

If you had one extra hour of free time a day, how would you use it? Watch TV…I miss watching TV