How To Survive a Conference as an Introvert
As online entrepreneurs (especially solopreneurs), we know the importance of getting out into the world and networking with other business owners. Sometimes when we work from home, we can start to feel isolated and a bit nutty - like no one in our life understands what we’re trying to accomplish.
As an introvert, we’re constantly battling the need for alone time and quiet space with the need to make those connections.
I’m one of those funky introverts (an INFJ) that can easily fool people into thinking I’m an extrovert. When I’m in my Zone of Genius (teaching) and talking about things that really light me up - I’m animated, bubbly, and funny. But after too much of that, I need a timeout. A quiet room with a book, a nap, and preferably no one touching or talking to me.
I’ve found conferences to be a great way to get a huge dose of those connections and meaningful conversations all at once, and then I can go home to my quiet home office and be left alone.
Being a serious introvert is one of the reasons I love using Pinterest as my primary marketing method - it’s known as “the intovert’s platform”.
If you’re a fellow introvert, here are my top tips for surviving a conference.
Build In Buffer Time
You will need time to relax, absorb, and digest all the conversations and learnings. If at all possible, I like to arrive and/or stay an extra day so I can have that quiet time to myself. I often take notes, nap, and take action on a couple key things I’ve learned.
Just Have a Normal Conversation
Yes, professional and industry conferences are a good place to talk about business without being skeezy - but I find the best conversations happen when you just end up talking about life with people.
Other attendees are going to ask what you do. Instead of doing the awkward elevator pitch thing - where you take a deep breath and spit out your memorized 3-sentence pitch - keep it super duper simple.
I simply say, “I own a Pinterest marketing agency.” That’s it. If they want to know more, they’ll ask. I’d rather talk about where they’re from, what they love about the conference, etc.
Yes, Do The Business Card Thing
I don’t think the business card is dead. I more often than not get comments on how much people like mine, and getting them from other attendees makes for an easy way to follow up.
Occasionally I’ll ask for a card from someone who doesn’t have one - so I’ll write their name and email on one of mine, or send them a message on Instagram to make sure we connect.
Party Time? Know Your Limits
The last conference I went to had a great opening and closing party. I say they were great, because I could see how much fun everyone was having and they were well-executed and cool.
But I find screaming over music after a long day to be absolutely and utterly exhausting. I also have zero desire to imbibe in too much “liquid courage” to get by. That’s a recipe for disaster.
In fact, at the closing party of this last one, I was having a fantastic conversation with a potential client and I had to wind it up and excuse myself because I was about to hit a wall so hard I couldn’t put sentences together.
Don’t let FOMO rule your decisions. If you’re not going to be at your best, your conversations and attitude will suffer - not what we want when we’re making connections.
You Can Do Anything, But Not Everything
This was a favorite quote of mine from Craft + Commerce 2019 by Matt Ragland and it was probably my biggest takeaway.
If you know you can’t manage to go from breakfast all the way to late night drinks with a bunch of people you barely know - don’t.
Pick and choose what you think is the best fit, what is going to be inspiring and teach a ton, and/or what fits with your goals for the conference.
Which brings me to my last tip:
Pick 1-3 Goals For The Conference
Knowing what you want to get out of a conference will help you pick and choose and manage your energy levels.
Some goals you might choose could be:
To learn one new thing to help your business you can implement right away.
To connect with complementary businesses for PR reasons.
To sign one (or a few) new clients.
To get inspired to revisit your priorities.
What conferences are you planning to attend or do you love? Let me know in the comments!
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