I am not sure when I became a conference junkie. But in the past nine months I have attended 4 conferences and will be leaving for my fifth (Type A—can. not. wait!) on Thursday.
Oddly, I am most nervous about this one. At each of the others, I’ve either known a lot of the people attending, had my husband with me, or both. This time, I have met, in person, only two people who will be attending. I know a few others (including one of my roommates, the lovely Sarah aka Mainline Mom) from Twitter. But basically, I’m flying solo here. And I am more than a little nervous about it.
I’m not the girl who will just jump into a conversation with strangers. I’m the girl who keeps her eyes down on the elevator. (Unless the elevator gets stuck and I’m in between floors with several other women and a nursing baby like at Relevant last year.) Generally speaking, I am far more comfortable in a room full of books than a room full of people. I’m shy and, as an introvert, gain my energy from time spent alone.
In effort to prepare myself—and encourage any other introverts out there—to head to Charlotte this week, I thought I’d share 10 tips for introverts at conferences.
- Make at least one connection before you go. I’ve got dinner plans Thursday night with someone I’ve met before and her friend, who I have not met. Plan to meet for coffee or dinner or even just a quick hug in the hotel lobby. Just having at least one person you “know” can make a huge difference.
- Sit by someone new as often as you can. In breakouts, general sessions, and at meals, find someone you don’t know and introduce yourself. I figure by the end of a conference, I’ll have introduced myself to at least ten people. That’s pretty good!
- Practice your introduction! Since I’m going to a blog conference, I’ve been working on my “elevator pitch” about my blog. But it’s also a good idea to have a little personal introduction ready. Just something simple, “Hi! I’m Teri Lynne. I live in North Alabama. Where are you from?”
- Trade business cards. You’ll be glad you did. I like to put a note on the card of where I met the person. That way when I reconnect with them on Twitter or through their blog or Facebook, I can reference the breakout or meal or whatever when we met.
- Slip away. If the busy-ness and noise are too much, give yourself a break. It’s okay! Conferences can be very draining and knowing your limits will help you have the best time possible.
- Be accountable. I’m likely to hide out in my room if I don’t have someone to attend a session with or am not sure what is going on next or where I should be. Ideally, find someone at the conference who will go with you. But, if you can’t, ask a friend to text you and make sure you are not spending all your time in the hotel gift shop being lonely.
- Accept who you are … but remember that everyone is different. Don’t assume that just because a group of people are laughing and seem to know each other since birth that they don’t want anything to do with you. Say “HI!” Who knows, they may have just met too.
- Find an extrovert! Ideally, I need a conference buddy who is very outgoing and will initiate conversation with the people around us.
- Don’t chatter. My defense mechanism against shyness is constant talking. It’s annoying. I hate that about me. I always vow not to do it but I do it every time. Be okay with silence and don’t force a conversation.
- Smile. People like that.
So, what tips do you have for introverts who attend conferences? And tell me, are you introverted like me or do you thrive on having people around?
linking at top ten tuesday