#14NTC was my online homebase last week as I settled into the Marriott in Woodley Park, Washington DC for four days for the 2014 Nonprofit Technology Conference, hosted by NTEN, the Portland-based Nonprofit Technology Network. More than 2,000 nonprofit techies convened on DC for this massive display of tech solutions, trends, strategies, and advice for nonprofit communications professionals.

With all the workshops, plenaries, happy hours, and parties I found that the best part of the conference was the people I met and the conversations I had. Here’s a recap of the #awesome people I met and what I learned from them.

On Day One

I traveled 3,000 miles from our office in Portland, OR only to climb into a cab on the very first night with Dave Wiech, president of Portland agency, Sheepscot Creative. Thirty seconds into the conversation, we realized we had exchanged emails a month ago. It was so nice to meet a #PDXer on day one and to discover his passion for narrative mechanics, the study of storytelling.

That night I also had the pleasure of meeting Shannon Eisentrager, communications administrator for the McKnight Foundation in Minneapolis. We ended up having dinner twice during the conference and she taught me the ins and outs of her foundation.

Lesson learned: Sometimes a conference is successful because of the people we meet, not the workshops we attend.

On Day Two

At the morning plenary, I sat next to Nancy Schwartz an NTEN board member and leader in nonprofit communications. Her blog, GettingAttention.org is one of our “5 Top Resources for Nonprofit and Foundation Communications Professionals.” You should sign up for her newsletter, because not only is she a smart thinker, but she’s really nice, too and deserves your support!

At the cocktail hour that evening, I had the most #awesome conversation with Yasmin Nguyen, owner of Vibrance Global about how he started his business to connect nonprofits with for-profit sponsors. I was inspired by his vision for the future.

Later, during a progressive party, I happened to walk through the door of a bar with Portlander, John Chase, a strategist for Greater Giving, an organization dedicated to helping nonprofits with fundraisers and donations. He was so much fun that I ended up hanging out with him and his coworker, Alexandra Saavedra and having a lot of great laughs (see what I mean?)!

 NTEN photo booth

Lesson learned: Conferences are a great place to connect with leaders in your industry, peers who inspire you, and like-minded individuals.

On Day Three

I was tired come Friday but I’m glad I stuck it out because I went to THE BEST workshop on the latest Facebook strategies! Did you know Sarah Burris, senior strategist at Action Sprout, gets paid to make memes? How #awesome is that!? She also added me to her Storify highlighting the workshop. You should read it, because it pretty much covers what I learned. If you want to know more, you can look up #14NTCFB on Twitter for comprehensive coverage!

Lesson learned: A great way to take notes at a conference is to live tweet during workshops. By live tweeting, not only are you participating in the conversation and noting key takeaways, but you also become part of the story.

Day Four

By day four, I connected with more than 20 new colleagues on LinkedIn, grew my Twitter following by 22, and learned about many new industry trends. Most importantly, I made several new friends and for that, I’d say it was #awesome.

Lesson learned: Go to a conference with an open mind to connect with others, learn new trends, and make new friends.

Were you at NTEN 2014? What did you think of this year’s conference?