[insert-author-info] Ignite, Innovate, Execute. It’s those three words that not only shaped the theme of this year’s SMPS National conference, Build Business: Synthesis, but also pushed me to think about how I can achieve greatness in my own marketing career. Having received the SMPS New York 2016 Mary Findlen Professional Development Grant, I was given the opportunity to attend the conference in Philadelphia – which was one of the largest SMPS national events in the past decade. As a first-time attendee, I wasn’t sure how the sessions would be or who I would meet along the way, but I’ll be the first to say it did not disappoint. When I arrived, the day started with a first-timer orientation and an engaging game aimed at breaking the ice. It was there where I met many new marketers from around the US – from California to Iowa to Massachusetts – and I quickly realized I had much in common with many of the attendees despite distances among all our places of work. The session also served as an opportunity to meet face-to-face a few people I’ve worked with on prior projects who I only knew from emailing or calling. This first session set the tone for the rest of the conference. From engaging and dynamic speakers, including keynote Ben Casnocha who authored NYT best-seller, “The Start-Up of You,” to panel presentations that focused on topics like communication, healthcare, and messaging, I quickly realized I was uniquely surrounded by hundreds of like-minded people who understand what it’s like to work in marketing and business development for this ever-changing A/E/C industry. In addition to panels and other forms of speaking, the Build Business conference designed a series of short-form MAX (Market. Act. eXchange) presentations that showcased 15-minute sessions on topics like innovation, leadership, and networking that were especially engaging. Besides the many presentations, it was during the breaks where I was able to not only meet new people from around the country, but also connect with past colleagues, better get to know members in my own chapter one-on-one, and reconnect with people whom I hadn’t seen in months. The conference was a great way to be surrounded by smart, ambitious, and hard-working individuals in an environment that was welcoming and fun. During my time in Philadelphia, the national conference inspired me to take risks, constantly evolve and adapt, and most importantly, take advantage of the network. As far as the future, I will continue to enhance the new SMPS relationships I’ve developed and strengthen the ones I already have as I look forward to next year’s conference in Indianapolis!