How to be an Introvert: Attending Live Events

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Last September I went to a writing mastermind, a world-building summit where I met with a handful of writers over 2 days and helped create an entire fictional world. It was AMAZING. I loved it and it totally shaped my career going forward.

And, I’ll be honest — it was scary as hell. I didn’t know ANY of the other people (8 of us total), and I was 100% the least experienced of any of them. I was very VERY nervous, and if it weren’t for Andrew insisting it would be best for me I would have talked myself out of it.

The same guys/company put on another writer event just a week+ ago. It was totally different in a lot of ways — focused on business instead of story, no Dave, and WAY more people.

Summit Attendees JPG

As an introvert, and an introvert that works from home and doesn’t have much in the way of co-workers, attending a live event is way way outside my comfort zone.

But I found a few ways to make it work without being totally spent and drained at the end of each day ….

How to attend live, in-person events when you’re an introvert:

Try to make sure you know AT LEAST 1 person going

This might mean planning ahead with a friend, or possibly reaching out to 1 or 2 people you know are attending. Online, ahead of time. In a 1-on-1 email basis.

Fortunately, I now work with Johnny and Sean (who led the weekend) as well as Monica and Garrett (who attended). Plus, since I actually did the planning and corresponding with attendees, they were all at least cursorily familiar to me. I didn’t feel like I was in a room made up ONLY of strangers.

And just that little bit of familiarity helped so much.

Sit in the corner

In the third image below, you’ll see a shot of the whole room. In about the middle of the image, at the very end of the table you’ll see a blue water bottle. That’s mine. That’s where I sat. In the corner, with my friend Monica next to me and no stranger sitting on the other side. That wasn’t 100% intentional (there actually was an empty chair on the other side of me when the weekend began), but it was very fortuitous.

This cornering of myself limited the amount of stimulation I was made to deal with at any given time, and allowed me to *almost* have ‘alone time’ in the middle of the full room. I didn’t feel drained from making small talk all the time. It worked out really well.

Let people approach you

The first morning, I came in, sat down in my corner, and three different people approached me to introduce themselves. If I didn’t write about it here, I really REALLY doubt any of the other attendees went home thinking, ‘That Amy girl didn’t proactively introduce herself to anyone.’ Who would know?

Instead, I STILL met new people, but one at a time, without feeling like I was bugging them or encroaching on their space or anything. I admit, I had an advantage because I organized the event and they all had an idea of who I am, but still.

Give yourself time

Time to open up, time to be alone, time to make new friends. Give yourself time in your hotel room at night, even if everyone else is staying up to chat. I stayed up MUCH later than I usually do all 3 nights I was in Austin. But each time I was very conscious about how I was feeling, how tired I was, if I would be better off sleeping more.

I still didn’t get a chance to REALLY talk to everyone there (the event was only 2 days), but I feel good about the way I did spend my time.

Really all these tips can be boiled down to — BE YOURSELF. Give yourself permission to be an introvert and try not to care what someone else might think about you.

I also realize that these tips make me sound cranky and anti-social. Which I absolutely am not. I don’t think any of the other 20+ people there would have ever thought I was being anti-social or trying to limit my exposure to them. It is all just a way of knowing myself, what I am comfortable with and in what environment I can best thrive.

Here are just a few photos from the weekend, so you can get a sense of the room and the amount of people in attendance. I’ll be going to a September event as well. It will be only 15 people, MOST of whom I already know. Easy :)

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The guys want to put on a MUCH bigger 200-person event next spring! I’ll have to come up with a whole other set of tips for that!

What are your best tips for attending in-person events?

I want to start a small series of posts about living as an introvert! It’s a part of my personality I’ve only started to recognize and work with over the last couple years, and it’s fascinating to me. Check out my related Pinterest board here: How to be an Introvert

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