Make lasting connections at the TC18 Data + Women meetup

The Data Plus Women meetup at Tableau Conference has been an annual tradition since 2013. In 2016, we (Brit and Chloe) had the opportunity to speak at the event. In our talk, we shared our stories of being women in analytics and how our experiences inspired us to start She Talks Data. At the end of the event, we couldn’t believe how many people approached us with an outpouring of support and interest in our stories. Three of those people were Katie, Julie, and Mona—active members of the Tableau community and now She Talks Data advocates. That event was where our friendship started; a friendship that would inspire drastic life changes that brought them all from different parts of the country to live and work in the Bay Area with us.

Tableau Conference (TC) is a welcoming environment and the perfect opportunity to stretch yourself to learn, network, and expand your point of view. Over the years, the Data + Women community has taught us all that our stories and experiences matter and that you shouldn’t underestimate the impact you can have on others (and yourself) by being vulnerable and open. TC has a special place in our hearts and we encourage you to participate in the community events and meetups that help foster these relationships.

As the 2018 Tableau Conference approaches, Katie, Julie and Mona outlined some tips to help ensure that Tableau Conference is a place where we can create lasting connections, at the Data + Women meetup and beyond.

Get out of your comfort zone

From: Katie Poznanski-Ring, originally from Indianapolis, IN.

In my research, I came across Brit’s blog and Chloe’s Twitter feed; their content resonated with me, and later I learned that they’d be speaking at the DPW meetup! As an introvert, my natural tendency is to avoid big networking events but I committed to introducing myself to them and went in with a mission. Once the talks were over, I gathered my courage to say hello. Brit, Chloe, and I had a genuine conversation about She Talks Data, the exciting moves they both made to the Bay Area for incredible work opportunities, and my interest in making a similar move to get more immersed with data and analytics. My advice for Tableau Conference is:

  1. Identify your niche, interest, or affinity—something you’re excited to learn more about or discuss with others.
  2. Seek out your people by researching the variety of scheduled meetups. Keep an eye on Twitter as well for spontaneous social events!
  3. Commit to attending at least one social conference event. For us introverts, it helps tremendously to promise yourself ahead of time to go to a particular meetup. It’s always easy to retreat back to your hotel room, but putting a social event on your schedule like you would any other TC session encourages you to follow through.

Connect and share

From: Julie Thomson, originally from Kansas City, MO.

As I stood in a line with other overambitious conference goers to meet Chloe and Brit I second-guessed myself and thought “What am I doing? I should just go to the next session.” I related to their story and knew that I could learn from them so I went for it. When I approached them, I had nothing better to say than “I really liked your talk, could I get your business card?" (*face palm*).

Brit and I ended up exchanging emails after I expressed desire for a mentor. After landing home in Kansas City, I asked her for feedback on my dashboards to up my visualization game. Email exchanges turned into calls to talk about her feedback and the conversation evolved into talking about work, life, and travels. The business card I had put into my pocket a few months prior turned into a mentor and friend.

  1. Swap contact information. Business cards, phone numbers, and emails represent real people, future mentors/mentees, and if we are lucky, friendships. Don’t be fearful.
  2. Follow up and be specific. Your work is not complete after swapping contact information and walking away. Post-conference, follow up with specifics on what you want to connect about and make a plan moving forward.
  3. Share what you know. Whether you’re a Tableau Jedi or a beginner, you have something to offer. In my first call with Brit, we talked about Tableau dashboards, but quickly connected on sharing travel tips. While she stayed a visualization mentor, she also became a close friend.

Keep learning

From: Mona Liang, originally from Atlanta, GA.

I still remember the excitement when I first stepped into TC16. As a solo conference goer, I was always on the move, checking conference schedule and making sure I was learning as much as I can. It was not until I stumbled into the DPW talk that night when I was truly inspired by Brit, Chloe, and 500+ people who shared the same passion-telling stories of women in the data analytics field.

I felt strongly connected and had to introduce myself. Next thing I know, I was spending the rest of my TC journey with Brit, Chloe and Katie! Two years later, when I was ready to move from Atlanta to the Bay area, the girls gave me all the advice and I’m now proud to be their coworker and friend.

  1. It’s more than a conference! Go to sessions and events that will inspire you. You may even end up making a few friends! Even after moving to the Bay area, we still get together to celebrate birthdays, attend events, and just support each other in any way we can.
  2. Make meaningful connections and follow up. Don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to anyone that inspires you. Exchange information or ask them to meet for coffee. You never know where it might lead.
  3. Identify area of focus. I always plan my sessions around marketing analytics and data visualization. This helps me dive into the fields I’m most passionate about and also provides me with an opportunity to connect with other like-minded professionals.

Be sure to join us at the Data Plus Women event at TC18 on Tuesday, October 23 from 4:00-5:30 p.m. We hope our stories and tips will help you make the most out of the event!

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