Blogger Conferences: From One Introvert to Another
Whether attending BlogHer, another conference, or even a brand event, it’s important to be ready for engagement. We talk about engagement online, but what about your offline life? Are you engaging IRL? Do you know how to hold a conversation when talking to people face to face?
Being a natural born introvert, it’s been somewhat of a struggle to really put myself out there, but my job with Collective Bias has really forced me to find that balance between utter shyness and holding meaningful conversations. Online, I feel like I can hold my own quite well…. but when it comes to face-to-face meetups, I’ve struggled, plain and simple. My one goal this year was to really talk to people that I met, to hold an actual conversation. There were plenty of opportunities to do so, and by the time we left, I felt like I’d made some very meaningful connections with other bloggers/friends/brands/companies.
So, how do you go about jumping out of your comfort zone and really make those connections? How do you approach people? From one introvert to maybe another, here are a few tips….
- Find a familiar face. With any gathering, there must be someone you recognize, or maybe you’re even going with a friend. Start out by taking their lead and form conversations from there. It might even be the event organizer who invited you.
- Find the extrovert in the room. Most gatherings I’ve been to, it’s been easy to spot a true extrovert in the room…. someone who can take a conversation and run with it. Find that person, and introduce yourself. Before you know it, you’ll be carrying on a conversation because that person is so easy to talk to. For instance, my husband’s aunt is one person I love to spend time with when we go back to visit family. She’s so easy to be around because there’s always something to talk about. She has a way of making anyone around her feel right at home. Another example…. when I first met Kim Janocko and Sandy Jenney (both from Collective Bias), we were at a Toyota event. I found that they were so easy to talk to, and they were fun to be around. I found myself gravitating toward them because of that. Everything spiraled from there, and I couldn’t be more grateful for the time spent with them there and the opportunities that arose after, not to mention the amazing friendships forged.
- Mingle. It’s a huge step out of that comfort zone, but walk around the room and mingle. Introduce yourself to others, and ask for their business cards….. which leads me to my next point….
- Find familiar ground…. focus on them. Ask the other person about their life…. what do they blog about, what do they like to do, where do they live, do they have kids, etc. Even though everyone is unique and different, you can usually always find something that you have in common, and it can lead to not only meaningful conversations but possibly even a lifelong friendship.
- Grab your camera. If nothing, grab your camera, and start snapping photos of the event or the people involved. It’s a good way to talk to people and capture their smiling faces.
- Look people in the eye. When talking to others, be engaging by looking them in the eye. Pay attention to them, and show that they do matter to you. What they have to say is the most important thing to you in that moment.
- Give a firm handshake. This alone can make all the difference in a good first impression.
- Give a hug. If you’re meeting someone you’ve talked with online for a long time, give them a hug. Honestly, this will probably happen without you even needing to be reminded. There’s just something about meeting your online friends IRL….
- Introduce yourself. When approaching a brand/company, introduce yourself, and have your business card ready. Be ready to find out how they work with bloggers, and also be ready to find out what you can do for them. How can you partner together?
After the first few encounters, you’ll find yourself loosening up; at least I do. It’s almost like an immersion therapy of sorts. Once you really immerse yourself, you find that it gets easier and easier as time goes on. You just never know what may come of a certain connection either. You may make a lifelong friend…. you may find the love of your life (if you haven’t already)…. you may form a significant brand/blogger relationship…. after much hard work, you may even find yourself with a new job.
In short, we need others in order to grow. The sky’s the limit, and to quote one of my favorite songs from the Broadway show, Wicked….
I’ve heard it said:
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well, I don’t know if I believe that’s true
But I know I’m who I am today
Because I knew you…
(quote from song, For Good, from Wicked)