Out of all my lengthy work experience this past week I experienced my first work event.
By profession, I work in the buying office of Neiman Marcus Home Division. Every year we have an event called Conclave, where every store manager comes to Dallas to meet our vendors and attend presentations for what's to come for the next season so they can receive product knowledge to better sell the product.
Whew! Now that's out of the way, let's get to my Conclave experience!
So about two weeks ago I got promoted into a new position with a whole new team. I immediately had to agree to working 15 hour shifts Thursday-Sunday at the end of July. I honestly had no clue what this “Conclave” everyone spoke about, however the perks of staying at the Four Seasons and receiving overtime preceded what the actual event was about. Nonetheless I was reminded that attending this work event was very beneficial to my new position because it gave me the chance to put a face to the names that I had been talking to via e-mail.
Now I know you probably can't tell but I am an INTROVERT at work. So the idea of having to smile, introduce, and make small talk with strangers kinda terrified me. It was already a lot of firsts by being on a new team, first time attending Conclave, and meeting the store managers who were practically strangers to me. I only have one work friend and wished I had more at this point so that I could feel a little more comfortable the next 4 days. It's crazy, because I am actually an Extrovert outside of work and I am very sociable. I feel like everyone has a work personality, right? For the sake of being professional? No? Just me? Ok, lol.
I was excited yet curious as to how I would get through 14 consistent days of working, staying professional, being sociable even when I don’t want to, staying up past my 9pm bedtime, being away from my husband, and literally being on a schedule from 7am-11pm. The biggest concern was the being sociable for 15 hours a day even when I didn’t want to be.
I soon realized that maybe I needed a little help with networking in the future or attend more networking events until I could be comfortable introducing myself to strangers.
My favorite presentation on the first day was watching a Michael Aram presentation where I was introduced to his new Fall Collection. That night was a Michael Aram “Modern Wedding” themed dinner. The set up was so nice and everyone looked so nice! He even let us keep the small frames used for name place card holders.
The second day was my absolute favorite day of all! Not only was I a little more comfortable due to having a majority of the introductions out of the way, but it was filled with gifts, exciting product, and the dinner was lively! Our vendors bought a table at The Zodiac (a restaurant inside Neiman Marcus) and decorated with their products and gifts for those assigned to their table. It became very competitive, but all of the tables were so beautiful and screamed each brand's identity.
Juliska, one of our vendors, even brought a Henna artists to give everyone a Henna tattoo to match their new dinnerware pattern. Also, my first time getting Henna! I didn't get a picture of mine, but here's a picture I borrowed from my co-worker!
Let's not forget the AMAZINGLY FUN Time we ALL had in The Slow Motion Booth!
Check out all these personalities! Who says Corporate people don't have fun?!
Oh the drinks you are seeing are called "Mark-tinis"! A drink by Mark Addison himself, the author of the book called "Cocktail Chameleon". This drink was the perfect combination and representative of the night! Not to mention it matches my cocktail attire very well.
The last night was a Copacabana themed dinner given by two of our top selling vendors at a restaurant called Quill. It was a great way to end the weekend.
During Conclave, I experienced a few firsts. I ate food that I normally wouldn’t have tried, I learned how to get dressed and ready in 10 minutes, I got Henna on my hand, despite the open bar opportunities I didn’t drink, and I actually missed my husband while I was away.
I never really paid attention to brand names of dinnerware, glassware, or anything for that matter. I’ve pretty much gone by whether or not I liked the look of things. Since my career revolves around crystal, flatware, and formal tabletop, I’ve now developed a love for a few brands that I got to know during Conclave presentations.
So HOW did I make it through?
The fact that the dinners were assigned seating forced me to sit at the table with people who I didn't know. Luckily, everyone was excited and open to meeting new people and it wasn't as awkward as I thought, especially since everyone was from somewhere different. We automatically had something outside of work to talk about.
Being able to sit with people I did know during presentations helped as well, and after hours at the bar allowed for people to get more familiar with each other.
Overall I enjoyed my stay at The Four Seasons, the themed dinners, meeting the vendors, learning the product, and meeting the managers. It wasn’t bad at all!
I feel like I know my co-workers a little better than I did before and vice versa, so I’m grateful that I had the opportunity to attend Conclave and show a little bit of my real personality in the process.
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