For introverts, attending a conference can feel exhausting. Meeting new people, remembering names, constant interaction and talking that seems to go on…forever. Avoiding conferences, however, is not the answer because skipping conferences means skipping out on the opportunity to learn new skills and gaining exposure to different ideas. A better solution is to develop a strategy for attending conferences that won’t wear you down, and provides a chance to learn in a way that is comfortable to you. Here are some ideas that might make your next conference a little less stressful.
- Find a conference buddy – If you have a friend to attend with, making conversation, finding a spot to eat and talking to vendors is that much easier. Conquer the conference together!
- Take a break – If you need a break in the middle of the day, set aside a small amount of time to walk back to your room. Down time is important, and if you build some into your agenda, it can increase your engagement time during the rest of the conference.
- Attend a smaller conference – Although larger conferences might have more sessions to attend, it can be easier to develop new relationships at a smaller event. Regional conferences give you plenty of chances to interact with folks you have already met, which might feel a bit less daunting.
- Start with a goal – Pick a goal, and then meet it. ”I’m going to meet three other Student Financial Analysts at this conference.” Or, “I will find one other person working on training documentation.” Make sure to share contact information, and follow-up after the conference.
- Develop some conversation starter questions – Develop several questions you can ask people from other schools. These questions can be professional (describe the part of your job that is currently stretching you the most) or a bit more personal in nature (thoughts about the keynote speech). Think about these before the conference, so you don’t have to think them up on the spot.
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