How to Network at Conferences When You’re an Introvert
Back in 2010 I signed up to attend my very first blogger conference. BlissDom Canada changed everything for me. I’ve been blogging since about 2002, and over the years I’ve met a ton of online friends, but the conference brought so much more together for me. It wasn’t just about being social — it was the first time I really considered that blogging could be my job. It was the first time it was really taken seriously, that the brands and businesses in the Canadian market were seeking to reach out and connect with the voices in our community.
I was excited to learn, but I was also terrified. I’m a introvert, and that makes the idea of attending an event where being social is imperative almost paralyzing. I spent a great deal of time with a sore stomach and sweaty hands, let me tell you. I’m sure I didn’t come across as terribly friendly, unfortunately, which is the complete opposite of who I am.
So I get it. I know how scary it can be to desperately want to attend a networking event but be so nervous you wonder if it’s even worth it.
It is worth it.
BlissDom Canada is a must-attend event if you’re at all involved in social media, blogging, or online business. Whether you’re a writer, a business owner or anything in between, the event is so worth attending and getting over those jitters. Over the years of attending BlissDom Canada, I’ve managed to hone my networking skills, and I’ve got some tips to share with you.
Ten Tips for Introverts at Conferences
10. Connect ahead of time
Reach out on Twitter and through the BlissDom Canada 2015 attendees page on Facebook. Meet some of the other attendees and plan to connect in person. It’s much easier walking in when you’ve got friends already waiting for you.
9. Plan your schedule beforehand
Take a look at the agenda, and plan which sessions you’ll be attending. Knowing ahead of time where you’ll be heading will give you some more control over your time at the conference, and a little more confidence.
8. Wear what you’re comfortable wearing
I know, I know, there’s a whole lot of talk about what everyone’s going to wear, but I promise it doesn’t matter. What’s most important is that you are comfortable in your skin. Nothing’s worse than feeling awkward AND having sore feet. Seriously. Don’t buy stiff, new clothes, pack what you love, and you’ll feel like yourself, and more at ease when networking.
7. Practice your elevator pitch
Even if it’s just, “Hi, I’m Alex from IDontBlog.ca and I write the allergy blog at Yummy Mummy Club”. Repeat it. Whenever I introduce myself, I get a little nervous I’ll fumble, or I’ll end up babbling too much. Keep it concise, and to the point. It doesn’t have to be awkward!
6. Visualize your goals
Why do you want to attend? To connect with brands? To build your business? To meet bloggers? To learn to hone your skills? Go in with clear goals, and work piece by piece to make them happen. When you’ve got an outline, it’s easier to focus and not think about how much you’d rather be anywhere else but in a giant room of strangers trying to network.
5. Schedule in breaks
Socializing exhausts me completely. By the end of a conference, I always feel like I could sleep for a week. I find it easier to take time out for myself to regroup and recharge while the event is happening so that I’m able to enjoy myself when I am engaged. It’s ok to need some alone time.
4. Practice conversations
Sounds lame, right? But I never go into a situation without first wondering what I might talk about. A room full of bloggers? Ok, I’ll ask their names, blog names, what they blog about. I’ll ask how they started blogging. That’ll get the ball rolling. What if they ask me those questions? I’ll have rehearsed my elevator pitch, so I’ll have a starter, and then I won’t feel so awkward. Knowing how to keep a conversation rolling helps me feel less ridiculous in the moment, because we all know how weird small talk can be, right?
3. Find yourself an extroverted friend
Seriously. Find one. They’ll introduce you to people, they’ll start conversations, they’ll push you out of your comfort zone. Extroverted friends are the reason I leave my house, because otherwise I’d be fine right behind this monitor forever, thankyouverymuch. They’re the reason I’ve challenged myself, and reached new goals. Extroverted friends are indispensable! And I promise there are tons at Blissdom Canada!
2. Cut yourself some slack
I overthink every social interaction. Did I say the right things? (Omg, did I say the wrong things?) Did my body language seem closed off? Were they just humouring me when we chatted? Should I sit with that person at lunch? It’s tiring second-guessing ourselves constantly! But nobody else can see this from the outside. Introverts will understand, and extroverts won’t even notice, promise. Go easy on yourself!
1. Just be yourself
Don’t try to be that extroverted social whiz, just be comfortable in your own socializing skin. If you pretend to be someone you’re not, you’ll end up far more exhausted than you really need to be. Brands and fellow bloggers want to know you because of the unique things you bring to the table. Embrace your weird. (Well, maybe avoid one-piece shiny purple… whatever this is, avoid it.)
I’m excited to see old friends, and meet new ones at BlissDom Canada this year. Please come say hello, I’ll be the one awkwardly lurking in corners waiting for invitations into conversations.