The Introvert’s Guide to Conference Survival
You feel that tightening in your throat, and your heartrate climbs a few beats per minute. You see yourself standing by yourself off to the side of a crowded room. Or hiding in the bathroom.
(or is that just me?)
If you’re an introvert (as a lot of writers seem to be), the idea of a conference can be pretty intimidating. At the same time, it’s an opportunity to connect with mentors and peers and readers.
If I had my way, I’d be in a t-shirt and yoga pants all day, every day, and I’d never leave my house. But meeting people in person and building relationships have made all the difference in this pursuit of the writing life. (And this time, I’m speaking, too!)
So here are a few pro-tips I’ve picked up to not only survive a conference weekend, but to get the most out of this opportunity.
At the beginning of each day, take a selfie (no duck-faces, please) and post it with the conference hashtag and a quick message about something you’re hoping to learn that day. Other attendees will recognize and remember you! And if the conference attendees have connected on social media ahead of time, it will help you all find each other.
Connect like a human
It can be tempting to flip a switch and go into “networking” mode where you’re sticking your card in people’s faces and evaluating every conversation for what the person can do for you or what you can sell to them. Don’t do that. Remember everyone else is probably just as nervous as you are. Ask them about themselves and really listen. Be a human, and let them be humans, too. Rinse and repeat.
Find the lost
If you’re really paralyzed, look around the room and find a person standing alone looking uncomfortable. Introduce yourself and ask them an open-ended question about themselves. What’s their dream or what do they write or what’s their story? Not only will it take the pressure off you, but they’ll probably appreciate the chance to not stand there awkwardly, too.
Nothing sucks more than meeting someone interesting at a conference and then losing track of them. Twitter is great for connecting. Take note of their twitter handle and tweet at them as soon as you can to grow that relationship after the conference is over.
Enjoy learning something new
In the end, you’re attending the conference for your personal growth. So relax, take notes, and focus on the conference content. Look for affirmation about the things you’re doing right, and make sure to write down some specific tips you can take action on right away after the conference.
What pro-tips have YOU learned from attending conferences? Share in the comments.
The Growing Writer’s Survival Kit is filled with tools to help you when writing gets tough. Get your FREE toolkit (and updates) by entering your email address here:
I am a writer, a project manager, and a corporate refugee with a heart for orphans around the world. My two daughters were adopted from Ukraine at ages 12 and 14. I post about writing, chasing dreams, and making a difference in the world, and sometimes I share fun snippets of fiction in-progress.