Conferences can be informative and enriching for you personally and professionally. However, they can be a bit draining for an introvert – one who, among other things, tends to find energy in solitude.
Here’s how yours truly – an introvert- has navigated some of the multi-day conferences.
- Go to the conference with a list of goals. You might wish to list something for every day of the event. e.g. Day 1- Exchange contact information with one person who meets X quality. Day 2- Eat alone, etc.
- Anyone -extrovert or introvert- will be exhausted with 4 days of sitting down for lectures at 10 or 12 hours each day. That’s a lot of sitting. Be sure to exercise before going down to the lecture hall.
- If the conference is big enough to have concurrent lectures, it’s easier to skip out without being noticed. Do it, if you need to do so. You are not being rude; you are taking care of your health.
- If you go to a big business conference, be prepared to sign a waiver wherein you give permission to be photographed. Your image might appear in their promotional materials. This is becoming increasingly standard. Just a heads up.
- Bring raisins to boost your energy for the marathon conferences. Raisins are small and portable and there is no noise to disturb anyone.
- If possible, stay at the hotel where the conference is taking place – there is less hassle to go back to your room and order room service.
- It is ok to skip a lecture (unless your employer sent you there to take notes, in which case, tough it out, then reward yourself later. Also consider a new job.).
- If this is a trip you are taking with other people, consider going to different lectures and connect with them later with your notes. This gives you time to leave and return to a lecture without needing to explain anything.
- One time, at a small conference, the host made it clear NOT to go back to your hotel room and order room service during lunch. Instead, she wanted everyone to go to lunch with a different person on each day of the conference. I did it, thinking I would miss out on something. That was a mistake. The people with whom I ate lunch were nice, but I never saw or heard from them again. Meanwhile, I was drained from being around a lot of people all day without a break. Don’t allow the fear of missing out to rule the day. You know your body better than anyone else. Listen to it.
- For bigger conferences with cameras everywhere, the spotlights are mostly focused on the stage, except during Q & A when they are turned on the audience. One time I had had enough of the spotlight in my eyes, stood up and went to the back wall. Just FYI.
- That hot item that you MUST HAVE to buy in the concession hall/ book emporium is on the lecturer’s website or on Amazon. You don’t need to bum rush the concession hall if you’re tired, no matter what they tell you.
- The concession room/ book emporium/exhibit hall -which you visit during a break in the lectures- will place any food at the back wall. Just to buy a sandwich, you will need to run a gauntlet of booths filled with people who are trying to sell you their latest book or program. Decide whether you have the energy needed to do this. Remember why you are in there. Finding the booth number of your favorite businesses or groups ahead of time helps you to make a beeline for them; then you can run right out again, if needed.
- At the end of each day (perhaps even after each lecture, if there is enough time), return to your notes to cement the ideas you want in your brain. This is also a way to decompress on your own.
- Before going to the conference, check to see which lecturers have a website and which ones do not (most people do have one now-a-days). If two concurrent sessions seem interesting, go for the one who has no website, and catch up with the other one online later. (That’s how I found a mentor, by the way. The lecturer with no website had nothing to say; the lecturer that I missed, and whose content I checked out later, became my mentor.)
- Make sure you have an online presence, as well. Business cards are going the way of the dinosaur. People check out your stuff in an instant – your website, your Twitter account, etc. People will want to catch up with you later. It’s a great way not to have to talk too much if they know they can dive into your content later.
These are a few of the ways that I have navigated multi-day conferences as an introvert.
What are your tips?
All the best,
P.S. Find more about introversion by clicking the Introverts category or tag.