So. I’m going to just throw this one out there and let it sit for a bit. I’ve been really loving Shanghai and am thinking I might want to stay here for more than one year.
Boom. I said it. What. Crazy. I know.
So what does that mean? It means I need to have friends that don’t all have 10 month contracts and will all peace out in May leaving to wallow in self pity and throw a pint of Haagen Dazs ice cream at the wall as I re-read this blog post cursing my falsely optimistic October self. I need friends and professional connections and all that jazz. So I decided I should do the whole professional growth thing and go to a conference.
Now to compensate for these big sentences about life claims and ambitions, I have compensated and tried to balance it out with some of the worst pictures I have ever taken in my life. So my apologies. These pictures were beyond repair, no matter how many filters, crops, retouches, and loud angry screams at my iPhone hoping that if all else failed my angry voice would make the bright white light from the windows in these pictures disappear and all the natural color would re-appear. Alas. That did not work – shocker.
I then thought, “Brilliant, I will go onto the website and take a cheeky screenshot of the website of the FYSE Women in Social Enterprise Conference website and use it on my site.” So I tried to go on the site. The preview on Google showed as “FYSE – an opportunity to give women hope for the future.” or something like that but then the site kept crashing. Seven times. There has got to be a women and technology joke in their somewhere…
So here they are. My pictures of women sitting in a room. This is what a conference looks like, in case you have been living under a rock.
But actually, sarcasm aside, it was a really great opportunity. Whenever I go to one of these things, I have to try really hard to perhaps present a more polished version of myself. So once I had hoped off my bike around the corner from the conference center and successfully sorted out my twisted knickers situation, I beelined to the entrance and strongly shook hands with people, refraining (for the most part) from spending time at the breakfast table instead of networking. Then we had a speed networking opportunity where I met some other really cool ladies doing different things in Shanghai. Fulbright scholars, conference planners, cross-cultural program facilitators, eco-friendly product creators, finance (I tried to listen while this person told me what she did – I was lost at “I work in finance.”) They were all super friendly and super wanting to have professional contacts and besties/happy hour drink buddies.
After a great lunch chatting with some of the other folks, my suitemate and I headed out as I was falling ill. But I came back to my room, and dumped the contacts of my bag now filled with business cards of some really cool chicks. The next couple of days, I was receiving emails from some of them asking to hang out and work together on some projects. So generally a success.
The web continues to grow, slowly but surely. I have realized that this web can’t just grow and formulate overnight. In order for it to be a strong web and one that I really like with people that are cool and not just “convenient”, that it will need to be a delicate and strategic process. But this conference was one step in the right direction. And as other opportunities present themselves – another university alumni event in the works for December, more co-workers at my job who seem to want to hang out, friends of friends coming in to town, etc – there are more chances to meet new people and expand the network.