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The introvert’s guide to working an event

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So you’ve got a big event coming up… ahem Dreamforce starts today! You know you need to rock it. Maybe you’re marketing yourself, maybe you’ve got a big booth and you’re marketing your company. But… you’re scared, that’s a whole lotta people you have to meet and be your best self for. I feel ya.

With Dreamforce #DF16 this week and many other events going on during the Fall. It’s time to make a game plan. Here’s your step-by-step survival guide.

  1. Set your goals for the event. Before even forking over the admission fee, you should have a plan for what you want to achieve at the event. Is it great leads, more contacts, potential employers? Whatever your objective is, write it down and gear all your activities at the show toward it to ensure you get what you paid for out of the event. Keeping your goal in mind will help you push past any social reluctance that might hold you back.
  2. Plan ahead and reach out to schedule meetings with people you want to meet. It’s really hard to grab people (or even find people) once you’re on-site at a big event. And it’s even harder for the introvert. You won’t get everyone to commit to a meeting but reaching out starts the conversation so if you happen to see the person at the show, you’ve already introduced yourself.
  3. Get on that hashtag. Every event these days has a dedicated hashtag. Start tweeting–live tweet sessions, comment on the food, participate in vendor contests–everything goes. And when you get some interaction going, see if anyone wants to “tweet-up” for some coffee. It’s a great way to meet some new people who might have similar interests. Plus, you’ll collect followers like a boss.
  4. Sit with people you don’t know at meals. Groan, I know. This is hard for me too, but mealtimes can be some of the best places to meet  new people. Grit your teeth and do it. I sometimes have to practice a couple of ice breaking questions in my room ahead of time. Go simple – Where are you from? What company are you with? Did you see the keynote this morning?
  5. Don’t overbook yourself. Introverts need some quiet time to recover at the end of the day. Even if means skipping that networking happy hour, you’ll be better the next day if you give yourself that time to recharge, alone.
  6. Don’t forget the follow-up. After the dust settles, reach out to those you collected cards from. Jog their memory with what you talked about. How can you help them? How can they help you? Keep the conversation going. If nothing else, hopefully there will be a friendly and familiar face at that lunch table next year.

All the constant social interaction at a big event can make introverts want to stay under the covers, but going in with a game plan can give you the oomph to keep up the smile and keep going. Don’t forget to be kind to yourself–#5 is very important for you to have a great event. Now get out there and rock that event!