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The Southern C Summit: BLOWN AWAY!

May 21 2013

by Patti Laurens

I haven’t really been able to wrap my mind around my experiences at The Southern C Summit, and I’m not sure I will be able to for awhile. But, I wanted to get my thoughts down “on paper” before the memory became more exaggerated over time. Not that I’ve ever exaggerated a story before in my life, but I digress.

I went into the Summit with high expectations. I really expected to get energized about blogging again, to hear some good speakers and to make some good contacts. I was wrong on so many levels. It was exponentially more than that. I’ve already declared it on social media – so you know it to be true – that I will be the first ticket bought to the 2014 conference. End of discussion. Honestly, they should have had a ticket booth right outside the front door for next year, I would have bought the ticket on the spot!

This weekend, while waxing poetically about my experience and trying to drop the words “Southern Living” into every conversation imaginable, I tried to put my finger on what exactly made this conference so special…and I finally decided – it was the women involved. From the women who created the concept down to the women who attended. Each one added something really unique to the event. (For the record, men both attended and presented. Each was a wonderful addition, but, the majority were women – and I don’t think it’s a “women only” conference either – I think its just the way it happened).

Planning a conference of this size, especially the first year, is no small feat. Pulling in quality speakers, getting people to attend, handling the logistics (and on and on), is *really* hard work. You never really know until the event is actually running what will happen – and even then there are surprises. There were a few hiccups – all weather related – but they were handled in an amazing manner. Whitney and Cheri really worked hard to ensure that things ran as smoothly as they could considering a major kink occurred – outdoor activities had to be moved in doors. Locations had to be changed. I’ve worked events of that scale and know for a fact that it is nothing short of a miracle that they got the location changes to work. I have a feeling that they and their husbands called in more than a few favors, and that the resulting bills include line items such as: $X owed for rentals, and Whiteny’s husband will be driving Little Suzie to soccer for the next two months. Don’t forget to bring her barf bag – she gets motion sickness!

I would like to say that I was just as impressed with the quick location changes as I was the women who attended. The attendees were quite the dressed up and beautiful bunch. Shoot, I wore my grandmother’s pearls to two events 😉 During one of the location changes, we got drenched. And, I mean soaked to the bone. (Note: this was NOT the Summit’s fault, the fault lies 110% with Mother Nature). You would have thought that women dressed in heels would be horrified and, well, less than gracious, at the experience. But, I heard more laughter over the course of that lunch than anything else. I think it actually brought us closer together as a group – this shared “wet dog” look worked for all of us.

The speakers, especially Recipe for Press’s author, Amy Flurry, Blew. Me. Away. I always thought that the next step in my writing career would be to try to get published on a regional level (read: Atlanta Magazine). No. Try National level. I’ve got work to do, don’t get me wrong, but my expectations of myself just leaped after listening to these talks. I can do this. I can take my little ebook to the next level (read: turning a profit). Its not going to be easy, but its mine for the taking. Do yourself a favor and buy Amy’s book. Worth. Every. Penny. I’m trying to dig through it and I have a feeling it will be read multiple times before all is said and done!

These speakers, though, didn’t just speak. They ate lunch with us. They networked with us. They individually encouraged us. I ate lunch sitting next to a SENIOR Editor at Southern Living (told you I’m dropping that name a lot!). I got to pick her brain and ask her questions that I never would have gotten to ask in another setting. Her advice was realistic and priceless. Amy Flurry asked me detailed questions about my ebook and made suggestions on where I should go next. The amount of money that I would have had to pay for that type of personalized consulting experience is incalculable. And, I’m just one attendee who spent a grand total of probably 15 minutes talking to both of them. I can’t imagine what everyone else got out of it as well!

The women attending took the conference up that final notch. Don’t get me wrong, even with a different group of attendees, it would have been a great conference. But, this year’s attendees made it that much better. I have never been in a situation where women helped each other out merely for the sake of supporting each other – no mutual benefit. If you met someone that would be a helpful connection for someone else, you hunted them down and made the introduction. Granted, part of the conference was to network, but, I’ve never seen networking where there was not perceived mutual benefit. I would meet someone, tell them snipits about my ebook (With or Without Coupons: How to Save 50% or More at the Grocery Store), and they may or may not be a good contact for me, HOWEVER, they would immediately say “Have you met Wholesome Mommy? You have to meet her” and then point me in that direction. And so on and so on. I introduced more people within 5 minutes of meeting them than I have in my entire life.

I was gushing to my Daddy over Sunday dinner over the way that we were helping each other out – and he was floored. He’s never seen anything like that either (and he’s a true Southern gentleman who knows what wall scones are!). Maybe it was the fact that we were all Southern women gathered together for a mutual cause – that is known to be an unstoppable force.

I do have one request, Whitney and Cheri, and that is to keep at least one event per year in The Golden Isles. The online presence covering the event was incredible. Our community is amazing and I think it deserves all the accolades it gets. I loved seeing all the #JekyllIsland floating on the Twitter feed!

If you were on the fence about attending the 2013 conference, get off of it and attend the 2014 one, or any of the other upcoming “Cocktails and Conversations” – if the events are HALF as good as this one, you’ll still be a very satisfied customer. I’m thinking of become a Southern C Summit roadie….but that’s another story entirely!

2 COMMENTS

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2 responses on “The Southern C Summit: BLOWN AWAY!

  1. amberwilson

    Thanks for sharing, Patti! This was one of the best conferences I have been to as well! The amount of talent and creative minds gathered together under one roof, or soggy wedding tent, was overwhelming ( in a good way!) Can’t wait to meet you at one of the next AMAZING conferences that the women at The Southern C are whipping up! It shall be dazzling!

  2. marydellharrington

    Completely agree with all you have said – the Summit was very well done and not to be missed in the future!

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