If you ever want to see me act completely awkward, put me at a conference with several hundred women who are changing the world with their words while I wander around trying not to get lost in the crowd. Or trying TO get lost in the crowd I never know which I would prefer!
Here’s the thing. I’m an introvert. Give me a computer screen, a keyboard, and a few minutes to put my thoughts together (with some heavy use of a backspace and several moments to stare blankly into space) and I can come across like this social ninja who has it all together.
In reality? Walking into Allume last year by myself was the single most terrifying thing that happened to me in all of 2012. I knew no one. If the conference hadn’t been 45 minutes from my house, I probably would have talked myself out of attending because of the fear of being by myself in a crowd of hundreds. And I’ll admit, while there were some fabulously amazing, life changing, God-inspired moments, there were also times when I wished I could melt into the walls. At one point I remember contemplating skipping lunch just to avoid the crowded buffet lines, or sitting and pretending to be on the phone rather than admit that I didn’t have anyone to hang out with.
If you’re an introvert and I’ll have the blessing of meeting you at Allume, I want to encourage you. We can rock a blogging conference! Here are some tricks I learned last year:
1. Show up.
This is key. You can’t rock it if you aren’t there! Can’t be there in person? You are officially in charge of keeping the Twitter party going!
2. Connect before the conference.
If this is your first time attending, join the “newbies” Facebook group. Put yourself out there online before the conference so that you already have friends you can look forward to meeting when you get there! Read the blogs of the other attendees, connect on Twitter, start putting real names to faces (you know..instead of Twitter handles..because it’s not awkward at all to only know someone by their Twitter name..ahem..). Connecting before the conference is also a great way to find roommates!
3. Do your homework.
If you’ve ever taken a DISC assessment, you’ll get what I mean when I say I’m a “high C.” Like a 99 on the scale. Mama loves her some information. So one of the things that helps me feel a little less anxious before a conference is to learn everything I can about the agenda, the speakers, the sessions, and the other attendees. Last year I even made a fabulous binder so I could remember who I wanted to meet, what sessions I wanted to go to, and where I needed to be at what time. It gives me a focus – so when I’m overwhelmed about meeting 300 women, I can take a step back and look for the women on my list first, to make the room seem a little smaller.
4. Give yourself grace.
Sometimes, it’s ok to take a break. The entire conference is going to be jam packed full of incredible information and resources. Even if you wanted to, you wouldn’t be able to be at everything. Need to leave the socializing time a little early to go grab a quiet shower and regroup? Snag a cupcake for the road and go for it. Feel God nudging you to take some quiet time for prayer? Follow His lead. It will be ok.
5. Ask questions!
Wondering if you should bring business cards? Or what to pack to wear in South Carolina in October? Or how breakout sessions will work? Ask us! Ask on these blog posts, ask on Facebook, ask on Twitter – we’re here for you. No question is too small or too silly.
Are you an introvert or an extrovert? What are your biggest concerns about going to a big conference? I’d love to answer your questions or know how to pray for you!