Conferences and Networking: Just Do It
We have already established in earlier episodes that networking and conferences, although nerve-wrecking, are incredibly important when it comes to building your business and making connections. You may be a little hesitant at the idea, and it’s ok, I get it. It can seem overwhelming. But I am here to tell you from experience that you should just do it!
Today on the Introvert’s Bubble Podcast, we will be discussing the details of how to survive a conference as an introvert, or simply as someone who needs a break from the hustle and bustle of a big event.
There are two types of conferences out there: the ones you have to go to, and the ones you want to go to.
The ones that you have to go to are usually the events that are required by your job. Maybe it is to fulfill professional development hours, or for training purposes, or simply as a team-building experience. But usually, these types of conferences are not only a bit dry (and expensive!), but your absence may reap some kind of consequence, like not getting that raise, being passed over for a promotion, or something similar.
The conferences that you choose to go to are more enjoyable, simply because they speak to your interests. Who wouldn’t want to spend time learning more about their passions and connecting with like-minded people?
No matter what kind of conference you are attending, there seems to be a common trend:
· Lots of people
· Lots of information
· Very little down time
Conferences are full of value, but the days are long, and between keynote speakers, breakout sessions and networking opportunities, you need to be strategic about finding time to recharge so you can be at your best to participate.
Conferences are exhausting. Having a survival pack can make them more bearable. Bring a water bottle, snacks, extra layers (it can be really cold!), a phone charger, IPad and a notebook (this is in case you meet people, have an idea, or simply want to take notes).
Scout the Venue
Take a quick lap around the location. Where are the restrooms? Are they close by or farther away from the commotion? Do you spot any quiet places, like a courtyard with benches? Are there different places to eat away from the event? Where is the location of your hotel room? Taking note of all of these features of the venue can help you craft an escape plan ahead of time.
Know the Schedule
When you sign up to attend a conference, you typically get a schedule, outlining the different discussions being held throughout the duration of the event. Is there anything you can skip out on? Is there a breakout session that isn’t relevant to you and your business? Make your own itinerary and pencil in times where you can get away to give your brain a rest from information or social overload.
Think about what “being comfortable” means to you. Is it leggings and tunics? Jeans and t-shirts? A maxi skirt with bare feet? Determine your style and from there, craft your attire according to the type of conference you are going to. Of course, you don’t want to wear hole-y sweat pants to a networking event with your boss, but you can find a way to incorporate comfy outfits and your own personal style into the weekend so you feel at ease while learning and meeting new people.
I hope this alleviated some of your “conference anxiety”. Keep in mind that they aren’t meant to torture you…they are designed to teach you things that can improve your business, as well as make meaningful connections. Conferences can be overwhelming, but if you keep these tips in mind, you will be perfectly fine! Don’t be dramatic, just have fun!