So you are going to attend an in-person conference. Your excitement builds until you remember—you’re an introvert.
Mingling with strangers. Attending countless lectures. Engaging in small talk. These make you reconsider your decision already. But fret not, my introverted friend. You can reap the rewards of a conference without burning yourself out.
You don’t have to attend every lecture, panel, and networking session on the conference schedule. Be strategic. Research the events that align with your goals and interests. That way, you make the most of your time without overexerting yourself. And yes, it is ok to allocate some ‘free time’.
Before stepping into the conference hall, engage in some online stalking—uh, I mean, research. Check out the speakers, attendees, or companies that interest you. When you have a game plan, approaching people becomes less overwhelming. It’s like going to a potluck but knowing which dishes you want to try.
Let’s be honest; even the idea of socialising can be exhausting. Consider bringing along a more extroverted friend or colleague who is happy to take the lead in conversations. They’re the icebreaker ship, and you’re comfortably cruising in their wake.
Sure, small talk can be challenging and uncomfortable. But think of it as the warm-up before your workout routine; it gets the juices flowing. You can move from talking about the weather to discussing your favorite panel. This opens the door for more meaningful conversations. Stay curious – I am often amazed at how much I can learn and pick up during these initial conversations.
Have intentional ‘decompression time’. Find a quiet corner or an outdoor spot to catch your breath and thoughts. Is there a space that’s designed to help you recharge? More conferences are catching on to this. Go check out the Wellbeing Room program at the London Vet Show.
Use this quiet time to jot down key takeaways or even breathe or meditate for a few minutes.
The conference is done and dusted, you collected an assortment of business cards, and now you’re home. The final step is to follow up. Since introverts often excel in one-on-one settings, consider setting up virtual coffee dates or sending personalised emails. You’ve already made the first impression; now it’s time to solidify the connection.
Conferences don’t have to be the bane of an introvert’s existence. They can be a great opportunity to grow, learn, and connect or re-connect- both with other people, but also with our purpose, values, and vision.
With some prep work, strategic choices, and scheduled downtime, you can navigate the conference seas without feeling like you’re drowning. Remember, it’s all about quality, not quantity. Now, power up your social batteries and make the conference world your oyster!
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