I have a confession to make.
Last week I attended the Points of Light National Conference on Volunteering and Service (that’s a mouthful…) in Atlanta representing HandsOn San Diego as a Board member. It was a really amazing conference (check out #NCVS on Twitter for highlights & nuggets of wisdom), I learned a lot and came back with a ton of new ideas and connections for HandsOn.
But, I did one thing that was totally off schedule and totally necessary.
I chose fish over networking, and it was amazing.
It was Tuesday evening, and I was halfway through this 4 day conference – lots of learning and networking and talking to other HandsOn affiliates had happened, and would continue to happen through the next day. As an introvert, while I did enjoy this, it was totally draining to me. Add that on top of the time change and I almost overslept every morning I was there!
Tuesday evening presented me with a choice: I could pay $25 to attend a Next Gen networking event at the World of Coca-Cola, which was right near the conference and chat it up with more of the next generation of service leaders….or I could pay $25 and explore the Georgia aquarium, which was also right near the conference, and hang out with these guys:
I think you can guess which one I chose.
The networking event would have been great, and I heard from a few that it was, but I was really in need of some time to decompress and let all of this new information and these new people really sink in. So that’s what I did. I spent about 3 hours wondering around the aquarium, watching whale sharks and manta rays and beluga whales.
Even with kids running all around, it was an amazingly calming place to be. It also happens that since the Georgia Aquarium is one of the largest aquariums in the world, it had been on my list of places to visit for a long time.
This is not the first time I’ve chosen to skip a networking event or conference session to take a little time to myself. And I’ve found every time I do, I feel more refreshed and ready to continue absorbing names and information afterwards. Some people can power through a 4 day conference and never miss a beat, but for others like me a little down time needs to be built into the itinerary.
I recently finished reading Susan Cain’s amazing book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Won’t Stop Talking. I was actually reading on the plane to the conference and laughing to myself as she explained funny (and awkward) situations that have happened throughout my life, that apparently are pretty common among introverts.
I’d venture to say that the nonprofit sector has a high percentage of introverts working in it – not everyone of course, there is and should be a healthy introvert/extrovert balance. But I’ve began to notice that in the nonprofit sector we seem to have an appreciation for leadership styles that lean towards the introverted side – quiet leaders can definitely find their place here.
I’d love to hear if you’ve ever made a similar choice, maybe not choosing to hang with fish instead of network, but have you ever decided you just needed time to yourself rather than another networking event?