How to Survive a Business Conference Alone
Studies say that introverts make up between 30-50% of the American population. And no, that’s not a fancy way to say shy, because shyness is only half of the battle. Working in the communications field, I’m obligated to network with people everyday. Every. Single. Day. The truth is that I love to meet new people, but I’d prefer to do so organically and in small groups. While I can’t change my personality, I have learned a few tricks to get by at those ridiculously large conferences, reunions, meetings, etc.
Most people become super Twitter-happy the day of an event and throw around hashtags like rice at a wedding. For example: “Wow, this is the best coffee ever #ImHereWhereAreYou #BestCoffeeEver #IWantToLeadTheEventsSocialMentions”. Well, that’s one way to do it, but introverts should think about using social media 2-4 weeks before the event begins. Nowadays, every conference has a designated hashtag or Facebook page or Eventbrite page...the list goes on. Use these pages to troll for future buddies. Try to make a friend or two (or three) so the initial meet-and-greet is less awkward. Most people are a little nervous to attend large events alone so they are more receptive to pre-meeting online and going through the event together.
2. Take notes.
Yes, this seems awkward, but listen to the most cool, confident person in the room and replicate their conversation. Do not give an exact echo of their conversation, but pay attention to topics and the crowd’s response. Maybe they are saying something you can identify with and talk to the person next to you. This usually moves into an organic conversation. Learn to pick up cues from those around you help stimulate conversation.
3. Come prepared.
Pull up 3-4 current events to refer to in new conversation. Keep them mentally on hand in case you suffer a lag in conversation. "Oh, did you guys hear about that new Apple Watch? I wonder who will shell out the $17,000 for it."
4. Take a break.
We all have a time limit on how long we can be charming around people before we need to take a break and regain our focus. By nature, introverts recharge in solitude, so don’t be afraid to step away. Take a short break for a walk, water, bathroom break, or just to breathe.
5. Dress comfortably.
When you are in an uncomfortable situation, the last thing you need is to feel any extra anxiety over a piece of apparel that is not acting accordingly. If your favorite dress doesn’t fit right (but you’ve been in denial), now’s the time to nix it. The extra fidgeting only makes you look more nervous and increases anxiety because you're focused on your look and not your conversation.
6. Use posture and posing to exude confidence.
Straight posture makes you feel more in-control; not to mention, certain body stances relax you and ease anxiety. Try the wonder woman pose by placing a hand on your waist slowly in a conversation. At first you might feel ridiculous, but if you do it slowly, it slides under the radar and boosts your confidence.
Now let’s go conquer the world!
PhotoCredit: Huffington Post