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My friend Sam wrote a great post that you should read if you haven’t already. Much of what he says is true of any conference you attend, but since Orange is next week, let’s just focus on that one.

In his list of ten things, one thing in particular jumps out at you. Meet people. Talk to people. Ask people questions.

I want to echo this and push a little further.

First of all, if you’re coming with other staff, you need to give yourself permission to spend time away from your staff. Conferences offer great opportunities for a staff to bond, but you’ll always have your staff. You won’t always have the collective knowledge of more than 4,000 leaders. This probably means having some intentional conversations with your team before you leave. Plan out when you’re going to hang out as a team and when you’re not. Give them the freedom, or even challenge them, to connect with others while at the conference. I’ve been there. It’s easier to attend a conference and only connect with the people you know. Your staff is NOT thinking about the people they can meet next week. Give them a little push, give them permission to take some risks.

Same goes for you. How many people you connect with is up to you. Maybe you’re a little timid or shy. Perhaps you’re from a small church and you’re intimidated by those who work at big churches. Forget it, don’t let any of that stop you. Come prepared to share your ministry with others and come prepared to learn about specific things from others. What questions do you want answers to? Write them down and make it your mission to get as many of your questions answered as possible from as many people as possible. You’re going to get a lot out of Orange, but you’ll be amazed at how much you’ll experience in the hallways, the hotel lobbies and all the other places you didn’t expect to learn something.

Just so you know, one of the best places to meet people will be at the Orange Leaders Lounge. It’s upstairs in the main arena and it’s where lots of big thinkers are hanging out. If you feel the slightest bit intimidated to meet new people, the OL Lounge is a great place to start because it’s likely someone will initiate a conversation with you. See how easy that is?

So, take a risk. Push yourself out of your comfort zone and take control of your Orange experience. You’ll be glad you did!