By Alicia Charmaine

I’ve got to tweet this! Seated to my left was the Executive Vice President of Media Strategies at Edelman, to my right was the Manager of Strategic Communications at the British Embassy and directly in front of me was Amy Robach, news anchor of Good Morning America and observer of happy tears as a result of having just delivered quite the evocative speech.

I had doubts aplenty at the prospect of attending the 2014 PRSSA national conference. What will I get out of it? Is it worth the money? What if it’s time wasted? Most importantly, will there be any eye-candy?

Humor aside, these reservations were valid and were echoed by several of my cohorts. However, after receiving confirmation that our local UM PRSSA chapter will be contributing to our conference expenses, I along with UM PRSSA Vice President of Events, Gitte Duvander, immediately registered. I’m enormously glad we did. The conference was satisfyingly informative and was buoyed by charismatic PRSSA members.

Above all, one’s success at the conference was directly correlated to the amount of effort invested in networking and just showing up. Incidentally, that was one of the three take-aways from the conference: 1. write well and clearly (be a storyteller), 2. listen and 3. show up.

The two former points are undeniable. “Information is only as good as how you tell it,” said presenter Dana Coester, Assistant Professor, West Virginia University. Yet, the latter point of showing up primarily resonated with me.

Like yours truly, so many of us take our networking opportunities for granted, but succinctly put, “networking is like gym class: if you don’t show up you get an F, if you do show up you’ll get at least a B.” Meaning you’ll gain something from being present but nothing from being absent. The conference was an embodiment of this.

So, to my PRSSA cohorts I say embrace this philosophy of showing up. Show up, keep showing up and show up again. Your professional rewards will be insurmountable as a result – hashtag #YouWon’tBelieveWho’sNowInMyContacts.

To say the 2014 PRSSA Conference was a success would be an understatement. It was a Ryan Gosling movie premier on steroids. If you missed it, you can still view some of the sessions here

The 2015 PRSSA National Assembly will be held in March in Orlando, Florida and the 2015 National PRSSA Conference’s date and location is TBD. Please subscribe to the PRSSA and PRSA websites to receive the latest news and updates on conference details and everything PR-related. You won’t regret it!