Conference Season and the Introvert
Taylor Ehrhard, Senior Writer
We are careening headlong into prime conference season, and there are some great options on the horizon! For some, that is an exciting prospect (especially after a few years of a radically reduced conference schedule). Seeing old colleagues, networking, meeting the new folks on the scene…some of us are energized by this prospect! But not all of us.
The introverts among us might already be taking in a little extra caffeine to rev ourselves up for all that is to come. If you’re a little like me – if you feel like you’re probably not the prime event attendee because all you really want to do is retire to your hotel to regroup – read on. I have a few tips I’ve picked up on over the years that might help.
- First – plan ahead. Look through the schedule and know what’s coming, so you can strategically set goals and prep in advance. Select the events and presentations that will pack the most “oomph” for you and your organization and plan to attend those.
- Make the most of the sessions. These often present really good content and are a little lower-key than the major events. Enjoy them, take good notes, make the most of the opportunity to take in good info…without having to talk to anyone.
- Schedule meetings in advance. Decide if there is anyone you want to try to meet with and reach out ahead of time. It’s always possible that something worthwhile, but spontaneous, will occur, but most meaningful connections can be planned in advance.
- Recognize that you needn’t be the life of the party. To have a successful conference or make the most of a networking event sometimes you just need to show up, connect with a few people, listen well, and communicate thoughtfully.
- Find a couple of buddies. Even introverts have friends… If there are a few attendees you enjoy spending time with, plan to attend some of the conference events together. I really appreciate this approach for the big events – keynotes, dinners, cocktail hours.
- Carve out and take time to re-energize! As mentioned above, it’s okay to get away – don’t feel badly about taking time away to be sure you have the energy you need to really engage when you are attending. Reflect. Read. Walk, etc.Find a coffee shop or local restaurant/bar with a calm atmosphere, a little farther from the conference than most people want to walk. Enjoy the walk over. Listen to a podcast. Take a good book.
- Follow up with those you connected with, as promised. When you return, set a time to write a follow up note. Send any requested collateral. Connect via email or LinkedIn. This is a quick, but meaningful step, that is often overlooked in the hustle and bustle of returning to the office.
As a senior writer, Taylor Ehrhard is responsible for crafting high-quality, compelling donor communication and fundraising pieces. She brings many years’ writing experience and is an expert at tailored communication and strategic advancement.