Yesterday was the first day of the conference, and before I descend into "I'm about to speak on a panel" neurosis I thought I'd mention a few of the insights I picked up at the sessions yesterday.

(My panel today is on Web 2.0 with some powerhouse women from Windows Live so I hope I can hold up my end of the buzzword, if you know what I mean)

This year's conference theme was networking and making connections. They gave little handouts to check off when you managed to talk to someone you didn't know. The Panel o VPs (all female) keynote was about how to network and how networking affected their careers.

One of my founding Webgrrls of the Seattle chapter told me that you make contacts that you only really reap the fruit of 5 years later, and in my long Web professional career I can say that is true. Five years from now, the people you love working with will be promoted, perhaps at other companies, perhaps doing other things - but they will remember you and tip you off to opportunities, just as you'd do for them. Five years is time for you to "keep running into that same woman" at conferences and feel like you've connected finally on the 3rd or 10th conference and give her tips on what to do about her job. In our case at Microsoft, maybe the conference you keep meeting that woman at, is the Women's conference.

One of the more interesting panels for me yesterday was the (Barbara Stanny) Breaking Through panel around being "stuck" - either in a place where you have "done it all" and wonder, now what, or in frankly horrible spot and you are wondering "why me?"  Trusting your gut in these instances ends up being a key factor in how well you survive the "stuck points" - because your gut will tell you to do terrifying things like leave your job or your bad relationship or the career that has paid off so well - and make you try something new.

In my quest to find a healthy lifestyle I can actually live with (and get thinner by) I went to the Fit to Live panel where Dr. Pam Peeke talked about eating tactics and ways to justify to yourself doing the right healthy thing. She appealed to our brains and need for brain health - if you have an unhealthy body your brain capacity goes down. Coffee alone will not save me. :)

"Working with you is killing me" was the panel by two consultants who talked about "unhooking" from toxic conversations and addressing both the physical and interior mental reactions around difficult people. These gals I wish went into the more advanced technqieus because we stayed more on the surface. I compared notes with my seatmate and we agreed that what works for us is to consider our role and keeping it together for other people. The way I put it was, "much as I would enjoy engaging, I realized that as PM if I went down, the whole conversation would go down, so I have to let the fight go by me and deal with the facts." My seatmate said she had to do something similar to combat negativity in her group as well.

It's funny how doing stuff for other people just feels easier in mental judo terms.

Ok, on to the neurotic part of the day. Live it vivid!