So it’s time you have signed up for the conference – and those second thoughts are starting to creep in – what have I done!
First – remember you are not alone – if you are sitting at home behind your computer worrying about attending your conference – anxious about meeting other bloggers for the first time – so are they.
Now that you are breathing again – let’s look at some strategies to help you enjoy the conference and concentrate on the great information you will take away and the wonderful people you are going to meet.
Before the Conference
Research the Speakers – what’s happening in the blogger world that would relate to the speakers? What’s happening in your world that the Speakers may be talking about? What’s trending?
Look on social media – what is being mentioned about the conference, the speakers? Who else is going?
Make contact with those you know – arrange to meet up at the conference. Perhaps share a room or travel together.
Plan to maximise your attendance at the conference. You have taken this great step outside your comfort zone so make the most of it. Think about what you want to get out of the conference. Look at the event programme, the speakers and the workshops – check what matches your interests and plan who you want to hear and what workshops you want to attend.
Don’t overload yourself – make sure you plan for some ME time to relax and rejuvenate. Get together with your friends and work out a schedule to share information if there are concurrent sessions you would like to attend.
At the conference
Remember to breathe and remember that you are in control.
Be comfortable – wear comfortable clothing and shoes. Pace your self – make sure you attend the sessions you want to and have planned and make sure you take that ME time.
Be flexible – if you find that you planned too much in the pre-conference planning, change the plans – don’t go to that workshop, stop take time to rejuvenate. The main aim is to enjoy yourself. Perhaps sit down and have coffee with that new friend you have made or that friend you know from social media but haven’t met before.
The greatest skill to use at a conference, in fact anywhere, is listening – active listening not just hearing the background babble. Wonderful isn’t it – you don’t even have to start talking; at least not at first. Follow the listening with questions – you will find that by listening you become involved in the information being shared and you will naturally start to ask questions. Guess what you have just started a conversation.
When you break out of your comfort zone and start interacting – remember your voice and body language. Speak clearly and audibly and make sure your body language is congruent with your words. The conversation is not going to go too far if you look like you are ready to flee at the first sign that someone wants to talk to you.
Always be you – not everyone is going to want to like you or talk to you and that is okay! You are not going to like or want to talk to everyone either. The ones who do will be the ones you will connect with.
Smile – this is your biggest asset. Smile at people – they will smile back. Not sure what to say smile. Remember those who you are smiling back are probably just as worried, unsure and uncomfortable as you are, if not more. Reach out and help them.
Relax and enjoy
After the conference
It’s over; breathe and relax – you did it!
Now before everything gets hazy and you get busy in your real world don’t forget to follow up. You most certainly have made great connections – contact them and ensure you continue with building the relationship. If you have not already connected with their blog subscribe to it and see where else you can connect – facebook, linkedIn or other social media connections.
One last word – I too have been a quivering wreck at the concept of going to conferences. I have some agonising memories of conferences I have been to until I slowly worked out the strategies that I have shared. Now I enjoy them as opportunities for relationship building, for learning and for connecting.
Enjoy your conference and those to come.
Public Speaking Mentor Coach Author