Conference season is upon us. If you’re an introvert like me, you may have mixed emotions. Psyched to learn and happy to be offsite for a few days to gain fresh perspective, but dreading having the life drained out of you by all of the new people and active learning. Fear not! You can and will survive this. Pinky swear. Check out some of my recommends based on lessons learned in the past below.
Get There Early
That’s right. It may mean time away from the folks you love (bring them if you want!) This will give you the time to familiarize yourself with the lay of the land and make use of some of the amenities at the hotel. Take this time to relax and have some fun prior to events kicking off so you’re going into it all very chill and ready to take full advantage.
Do Your Research
Talking to strangers can be intimidating. Most introverts hate small talk. The way around that is to do your digging and have topics in mind. These days, social media makes it very easy for us to get a sense of who will be in attendance at certain conferences as well as what they’re into. Or at the very least, doing a little reading up on presenters and keynotes can give you an opening line that might feel slightly less forced than talking about the weather.
Bring Your Crew
If I attend an event that I got a lot out of, I spread the word. I want other people to have that awesome experience as well. And if it just so happens that my shouting from the rooftops brings in a group of my friends and colleagues for the next time, all the better. I’m learning, they’re learning and I’ve got a bit of a safety net if I need it. Consider doing the same for yourself. Paying it forward while also surrounding yourself with some familiar faces.
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Take Time When You Need It
Conferences can be overwhelming. You’re surrounded by thousands of new people. Lights, camera, action and a lot going on. It’s ok to admit that it’s overwhelming. If you need to miss a session to take a breather, do it. Especially if it will enable you to be able to be better engaged in the next one. Thirty minutes in a quiet hotel room can be very relaxing.
Make a New Friend
My goal for a conference or event is to leave with one new contact. Just identify one person with whom you click and keep in touch. Chances are you’ll have options. The reason you’re at the conference to begin with is because you nerd out over the same type of stuff. Who doesn’t want more folks to nerd out with?
Conferences and events can be awesome. They can also be the opposite. Do your best to be prepped and ready to make it as great as possible an experience for you. (Introvert or not) I’m psyched to be attending WorkHuman and DisruptHR Philly in the next few weeks. Who knows, maybe some of you could be my next new friend? Hope to see you there!