As you may know, if you follow me on Instagram, I recently returned from a trip out west. (OK, like 6 weeks ago but don’t rush me)
After checking the Grand Canyon and Route 66 off my bucket list, I spent a few days in Palm Springs, CA for the Altitude Summit.
I asked you on Instagram Stories if you would be interested in hearing about my Alt Summit experience. And if so if you wanted to hear about the experience overall or about my tips for connecting and getting speaking gigs (since I was there to speak on a panel and teach a roundtable discussion.) The responses were literally straight down the middle 50% and 50%, so I figured I’d roll it all together into one big post.
About Altitude Summit
Altitude Summit, often simply referred to as Alt or Alt Summit, is a conference for creative entrepreneurs and social media influencers. Like most conferences, it’s a mix of panels, classes, and brand events.
My Impression of Alt Summit
Open for Communication:
The biggest take away I took from Alt is that it’s definitely different than the average conference because of the amount of “discussion” time you get. At many conferences, you move from large auditorium to large auditorium hearing rehearsed presentations from industry elites. After the presentation is done you are often heart-pressed to connect with the presenters one-on-one since that level of connectivity just isn’t built in. There are probably some “mix and mingle” lunch events, but they really aren’t all that great for true networking.
Alt is different for that reason. While you have presentations and industry experts, it’s designed to be a lot more collaborative and communicative. There’s plenty of time after presentations to talk to presenters and they even lead smaller, roundtable discussions that limit the talks to a table of guests. This really allows attendees to ask their questions, connect, and discuss.
Engaged and Collaborative Brands:
The other thing Alt does it partner with very involved brands. I think one of the biggest things I heard from most attendees at Alt is that the brands that are there are there because they are truly looking for sponsorships and connections with influencers, business owners, and bloggers.
This was made pretty clear the first night when all the sponsored brands hold intimate dinners for guests. I was able to get on the list for Sherwin Williams’ hosted dinner. They really do a beautiful job crafting a curated dinner for attendees and it gives you a chance to connect with not just the brand, but other creators in your niche.
I arrived in Palm Springs Sunday night even though Alt didn’t start until midday Monday. I’m not one for rushing in last minute. Since I booked late, I wasn’t able to get into the main hotel that Alt was being held at and instead was down the road at The V Hotel. Honestly, this actually turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Not only did I hear that our hotel had better amenities, but it was nice to be a little bit away from the craziness of Alt to detox and unwind.
On the first day I was invited by ConvertKit to be on their panel for Advanced Email Marketing presentation with Kara from @howfab. Luckily, Kara emailed me the night before to see if I’d be interested in meeting up before the panel which was a great idea! I didn’t know anyone at Alt so it really is just about getting out there and mingling. We met for fresh juice smoothies (because Palm Springs) and then both checked into the Alt Summit and joined ConvertKit for their panel.
That night I got on one of the brand dinner lists, so I was treated to a great dinner with Sherwin Williams. It was really well-done because they gave us time to mingle and chat and the Sherwin William reps were all around just chatting and talking shop. There wasn’t pressure to talk about sponsorships if you didn’t want to. The brands that Alt gets are really there for the complete experience too.
The Tuesday, I took a break. I needed to prepare for my presentation the next day. And, since I had Michael in tow, we wanted a little time to enjoy Palm Spring just the two of us.
On Wednesday I arrived bright and early for the roundtable discussions. This a very unique idea by Alt where they invite speakers to teach smaller, intimate roundtable presentations. Like I said before, Alt is really all about communication and this fits right into that idea. I was excited to speak about “Why Creative Entrepreneurs Need to Create Original Video Content” and even more excited to see that a lot of the attendees wanted to hear about it too! It was a whirlwind of an hour presenting on the topic and fielding questions from the audience, but I loved how interactive it allowed my presentation to be!
Honestly, Alt is an experience. Of course, they go ALL OUT when it comes to the decor, the atmosphere, the Instagram-worthy spots, and the brands. But, it also just has this really big community feel. Unlike so many other conferences you go to, it has a much more “comfortable, everyone’s welcome here” kind of vibe.
Alt Summit Tips for Attending
Book Early: This year Alt sold out in something like 2 hours. I was lucky enough to sneak in after the fact because I was a speaker. But, if you want to attend make sure to know when tickets go on sale so you can be ready.
Be Ready to Mingle: Alt is ALL ABOUT CONNECTING. They truly design it in a way that you can connect with brands, influencers, and other creatives. Everyone there is ready to talk and interact. You’ll be walking down the stairs and someone will just be like “hey! how are you!” – enough so that at first you’re like “do I know this person?” But, it’s just how people at Alt are. It’s not weird to just walk up to complete stranger and say “Hi, I’m Kallie. Who are you?” You’ll get a lot more out of the event if you embrace this attitude.
The Fashion?!: Ok, I was a little late to this game when I was reading a comment on the Facebook group from someone worried about “what to wear!” As I dove a little deeper some people were saying that Alt was all about the fashion. I stared at it in surprise sitting in my leggings and flannel. Girlfriend is NOT a fashionista.
I will tell you that people DO dress up for Alt but not EVERYONE does. There are people decked out in satin jumpsuits next to girls in cut up jeans and a slouchy tee. So, what I’ll say is don’t worry about it. Be yourself, dress yourself, and you’ll be embraced.
How to Land a Speaking Gig
So, I was at Alt Summit because I was invited to teach one of their Round Table Discussions. In addition, ConvertKit invited me to be one of their panelists for their Advanced Email Marketing Session. For those of you who were interested in getting speaking gigs like I did, here are my best tips.
Decide WHO you want to speak to and/or WHAT you want to speak about
The first thing you need to decide is obviously who you want to speak to. Or, you can flip it around and say you want to speak about a specific topic. Last year I made a personal goal to do some speaking. I was able to get a few local events and then finally get invited to Alt. Some of the speaking engagements found me, and others I actively sought out.
I knew I wanted to speak to other influencers and/or creative entrepreneurs. These are my people and these are the people who resonate with my services (on Caffeinate and Conquer). If you want to speak to sell your services or product you want to get in front of your target client. If you want to speak to expand your reach and influence, you may care more about getting in front of industry elites or the types of people you could network with.
Develop your expertise
As The Influencer Postcast host Julie Solomon always says, “I’m an expert simply because I say I am.” Obviously, you need some experience to back this up, but if you’re waiting around for someone else to tell you that you’re the expert in something you’ll be waiting your whole life. Develop the experience and knowledge you need, and then own it. If you know a topic, subject, tool, or trade really well, then you can claim you’re an expert. Write blog posts on the topic to show your knowledge. Consider making a video about it. Add it to your LinkedIn profile. Etc.
Show off your experience
Any prior experience you have is gold to show possible speaking engagements you know what you’re doing. Either create a press page or update your about page to show off any experience you might have. If you’ve done video showcase it to show that you’re comfortable and good at public speaking. Highlight any past speaking engagements. Link to podcasts you might have been interviewed for. Not only will this continue to develop your expertise but it shows that you know what you’re doing and aren’t going to fumble around like an idiot when it’s time to speak.
Apply, apply, apply
You might not know this but most people start out speaking because they apply to be speakers. Sure, once you’re a big name they’ll come calling for you. But, to get started you have to advocate for yourself. Almost all conferences will have a call for speakers where you can apply and pitch your idea. Generate a list of 10-20 conferences you want to speak at and get on their email list so when the call for speakers goes out you can be ready.
Ya’ll, this is one I SUCK at. I dread the small talk involved in networking. But it’s SO worth it because for every 10-30 less enthusiastic, “boring” small talks you have you, you have the chance to connect with someone awesome! You’re not going to connect with every person you network with, but the ones you do can become lifelong career pals. These are the people who don’t just “get” you but that support you and lift you up. And, this network can often help lead you down the path of connecting with other people you might need to know to grab the speaking gigs you want.
Alright! I think that does it. I did my best to cover it all without writing a novel. I also shared a little video on my vlog channel from our trip if you want to see below. It’s not really from Alt Summit, but while we were out there we did some traveling as well!