Are you a prospective Alternatives attendee? Heard a lot about the conference but not sure whether or not to splurge? Wondering what there could possibly be to talk about for five days?
With so many conferences and professional opportunities, it can be challenging to decide where to prioritize your resources. While most all conferences, talks, and seminars have their merits, Alternatives should always be at the top of your list. Here are just a few reasons.
1. It’s the largest peer support conference of its kind. With upwards of nearly 1000 attendees and five days of workshops, keynotes, caucuses, trainings, and other activities, you will be hard-pressed to find any opportunity like Alternatives. You won’t find more consumers in one place dedicated to best practices in peer support approaches.
2. It’s been tested. Alternatives is currently in its 29th year and shows no signs of slowing down. Some have even been attending since the inaugural event in 1985. Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or complete newbie, you will see there is a reason that people keep coming back for more.
3. Get the biggest bang for your buck for your own professional development. (Disclaimer: this is our humble opinion.) Don’t get us wrong – we know there are a ton of amazing professional development opportunities out there. But considering the extent of what attendees receive in five days both inside and outside the meeting rooms, we think there’s no comparison. The ability to learn new approaches, converse with others across the country and world, and casually socialize after hours with some of the foremost trailblazers is an opportunity unlike any other.
4. Feel like you are a part of a national movement for change. Once you arrive in Memphis, the feeling will be undeniable. As you meet other advocates who traveled anywhere from one hour to more than one day to get there, you can’t help but feel a strong energy deriving from a common purpose. You’ll realize that whatever frustrations you face in your daily work are not unique to you, and that everything you are doing for the greater good is worth it.
5. Broaden your cultural horizons. Since Alternatives changes cities every year, you will get a unique chance to experience a new culture every year. In Memphis, the home of the civil rights movement, you will be able to learn more about the history of disenfranchised groups while reflecting on the role you play in shaping the future. You will meet many people from the area and learn from their stories and experiences. There’s no better way than seeing where it all began and how much work there still is to be done to light a fire within.
6. Share your own professional expertise on a national stage. Not only will you get to learn from everyone else, but everyone else will get to learn from you! While we’re at home or in our day-to-day routine, it’s easy to forget how much we know about our work. You might be surprised when you cross state lines to learn that folks hang on your every word about your work in your small (or large) town. Do you work on policy? Be sure to share, because maybe someone who knows nothing about policy really wants to learn, and what you consider to be basic is new to them. Are you a social media whiz? Not everyone knows how or why to Tweet, so take a few minutes and play teacher. It can make a world of difference to the other person, and establishes yourself as an expert in your area.
7. Meet leaders of the movement. Alternatives is known for attracting some of the true rock starts of the peer movement. And what’s even better is that most if not all of them love to chat whenever they can. Be sure to not only grab a seat for one of the inspiring keynotes, but say hello. Ask your questions in person and introduce yourself. Not only will you get valuable information, but you’ll make new connections that will serve you and your work for years to come.
8. Make new friends. Who doesn’t like making new friends? Whether you depart with 1 or 100 new contacts, you will leave the conference with more friends than you had coming in. Sounds good to us.
9. See old friends. If you’re a veteran, you will get the cherished opportunity to connect with friends and colleagues that you only get to see once a year. Whether it’s due to the prohibitive distance or lack of job intersection during the year, it’s not always possible to regularly get together face-to-face with everyone we want throughout the year. Take advantage of the fact that Alternatives is a hot spot for which hundreds of people make an annual pilgrimage. Catch up, learn, and laugh. Can you say “wellness tool”?
10. Get inspired. You will be in a place hearing from a lot of amazing people doing a lot of amazing things. You will hear of others making great strides in your particular field. You will hear about great successes in areas you didn’t realize were officially sanctioned or recognized. And you will hear stories of triumph in fields you didn’t even know were fields. You will hear from people who overcame all odds and are giving others the strength and courage to do the same. It will be close to impossible to not come out of such an experience without a newfound drive and dedication to your work every single day.
Convinced? Grab your ticket for
Alternatives now, and we’ll see you in Memphis in October!