Blog conferences are amazing resources for both newbies and veterans alike. They range in size or price, and there are enough to choose from that you’re likely to find one that interests you. Many bloggers go to several different conferences each year, meeting new friends and making valuable connections with companies.
If you’re an introvert, even a small conference can seem intimidating. Many bloggers group up with their friends, especially those who live far apart from each other. It can feel awkward for an introvert to try and inject themselves into a group of people who already seem to be really familiar with each other. I personally have a hard time making relevant conversation and often scrutinize each and every thought before I say it – or don’t say it, which is usually the case.
But, there is hope for us introverts! After attending quite a few different types of blogging conferences and events over the years, I’ve figured out a few ways to network and just meet awesome people without having to force myself to “come out of my shell,” as so many people like to encourage introverts to do.
1. Find a subtle way to stand out. You don’t need to wear a sign that says, “Hey, come talk to me, I’m shy!” Wear a really unique clothing item, bright lipstick, hair clip, or jewelry (just one, not all at the same time) that people will notice. You probably already have something in your wardrobe that you get a lot of comments on. Wear it! When someone compliments you, use it as an icebreaker to introduce yourself to them.
2. Sit with someone new. Easier said than done, but it works well, and forces you to get to know a person you haven’t met before. The easiest way to start a conversation? Ask if the seat is taken. If it’s open, have a seat and thank them, then introduce yourself. If the words don’t flow, that’s totally okay. You can exchange business cards and go from there.
3. Network ahead of time. Almost every conference I’ve been to will have a facebook group set up ahead of time for attendees to use as needed. This is an amazing opportunity to get to know people before the event even begins. You can even use it during the conference to invite people to grab a coffee with you or ask if anyone wants to check out a particular session that you’re interested in. Once you see them in person you can skip the awkward intro and go straight to “How’s it going?”
4. Ask a friend to help you. Most of us have at least one friend who is crazy outgoing, or just knows everyone everywhere you go. Tag along with them and let them help you meet new people. This really helps in a group setting when you’re not sure how to bring yourself into a conversation without feeling like you’re butting in.
5. Take lots of breaks. Many introverts get burned out when put in social situations for a long amount of time. To help avoid this, step away alone to take a walk, freshen up in the bathroom or hotel room, or grab a snack or drink. After you’ve given yourself a little space, you’ll feel more comfortable back in the group setting.
6. Take great notes. That may sound kind of weird, but it is beneficial in more ways than one. First of all, you’ll learn a lot of awesome stuff. Plus, if there are several sessions happening at the same time, you can trade notes with someone. It’s a great chance to get to know someone better.
7. Don’t forget your business cards. Seriously, don’t forget them! Being able to hand someone my business card rather than try to explain who I am saves me so much anxiety. Make your cards creative so they stand out and represent who you are and what you do.
Making these changes have really helped me get the most out of my blogging conference experience. Introverts don’t tend to flourish in these types of situations, but with a little planning and creativity, we can totally rock it.