Feeling the energy and the love
April E. Clark
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
We all make connections in life; from the moment we’re born to the second we take our last breaths. As soon as we arrive, our parents fall in love with our crying faces. They later learn how easy it is to lose those loving feelings when mud pies meet Slip ‘N Slides. Bird feeders sit in for pellet gun targets. And first cars collide with mailboxes.
Some dads have the worst time getting past the latter.
Love connections can also happen in line at a coffee shop, walking the dog, or sitting next to a person on an airplane. A first impression or a quick glance reciprocated can change two lives so quickly.
Remember that before mixing pajamas with airports.
I was reminded how easily bonds form as I left the Midwest Renewable Energy Fair in Wisconsin this week. My colleagues and I attended MREF, aka the Energy Fair, as an annual tradition to support our renewable energy training friends on the eastern side of the U.S.
Every summer in Custer, distributing companies, solar professionals, nonprofit organizations and organic food co-ops meet in a tiny town in Wisconsin to celebrate renewable energy. A fair like this brings together like-minded folk who appreciate everything from wind turbines and Wisconsin micro-brewed beer to solar panel arrays and cheese curds.
The interests vary, but they all rotate around common themes of sustainability awareness and renewable energy appreciation.
See kids, science is fun.
The Energy Fair shows that in less than two years working in solar, I have formed formidable connections with people who are not just colleagues, but good friends. Almost like a solar family.
I never thought I’d have so many cousins.
At the conferences we attend, my solar family and I man booths, walk conference floors, pop in workshops, go to parties, sit down together for meals, sleep when we can, and do it all over again for the next day. Anyone who is involved in the world of conferences knows the drill, and I think it deserves a TV show based on the humor that happens behind the scenes. Instead of “The Office,” think “The Conference.”
It could happen.
Conferences mix business deal making, marketing, advertising, relationship building, socializing, eating, drinking and sleep managing. When attending conferences, it helps to be a talker.
It also helps to multitask, for example sleep while walking.
In any industry, but solar especially, the standard conference-going set knows how to pull a group together – or herd cats, as the saying goes. When the same sales-oriented folks are making the conference rounds at these events, they form strong bonds.
In solar, we give business hugs and shoulder slaps that say “family” more than “business partner.” We are passionate about the renewable energy industry, and it carries over to our relationships. I feel the love.
And the energy.
What I also love about conferences is the idea development and side conversations best made in the hotel lobby bars or group dinners at local restaurants. Plenty of deals are made on the conference floors and at the booths, but the strongest connections are made in the social events that follow.
In-person social networking does exist.
At dinners and parties, bad jokes are told, war stories are shared, and friendships are established. Sometimes I feel like I’m on a TV show, as some of the best conference sales teams are as creative, quick-witted, and charming as any comedy actor I’ve seen.
There’s a stand-up routine in there somewhere.
I’ve also seen some after-hours dance moves that rival “America’s Got Talent” contestants and karaoke ballads that could make it on “American Idol.” These are transferable skills that work in business and in pleasure. I am certainly in good company.
See you at the next show.
April E. Clark’s column appears every Wednesday, and she wishes her dad a happy belated Father’s Day. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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