3 Ways to Survive a Conference: An Introvert’s Strategy

Photo credit: John Diez /Pexels

Having been a Toastmaster for almost 20 years, I noticed one thing: I’ve met more introverts at Toastmasters than in any other organization I’m a part of.

If you are an introvert like me, attending any networking event where you have to meet new people and awkwardly struggle with small talk is scary and overwhelming and emotionally challenging.

As the province starts to open up, you may find yourself at attending more in-person conferences and other networking events.

What’s an introvert to do?

The worst thing you can do at the event is to pretend you are cool while hoping someone draws you into a conversation (guilty!). But just like giving a speech, working a room is a skill that can be learned.

Here are three strategies to try at your next in-person conference or networking event:

  1. Set goals such as: “while waiting for the room to open, I’m going to start a conversation with one person I don’t know and ask them what they are looking forward to learning today”. This is scary and it takes practise. If you have a goal of making one friend at the conference, and then connecting with them on social afterwards, pat yourself on the back; it’s a great start!
  2. If volunteers are needed, take the opportunity to help. Having a task to do can help you navigate the day and, because you have a specific purpose, people will come to you and connect with you for that specific purpose. You don’t have to worry about getting small talk out of the way. You can jump into the task at hand, stay busy, and still be able to take in the conference experience.
  3. Be prepared to create a calm space for yourself if overwhelm sets in. If the noise or the crowds (or the noise of the crowds), is getting much to much, what can you bring with you to quiet your mind? Always the researcher, I usually have an article to read. Perhaps for you its writing in your journal, doing a word puzzle, drawing in your sketch book, or listening to Spotify. Whatever it is, bring it with you. But promise yourself you won’t automatically dive into it. Use it as a last resort when you really need to chill and recharge for a moment.

Introverts, what about you? What are the ways you have navigated networking events or conferences? I’d love to hear your strategies! Publicrelationsmanager@Toastmasters86.org

Created by Nancy Movrin DTM Public Relations Manager 2021 – 2022