Networking for Introverts

What if nobody likes me? How do I introduce myself without seeming like a weird Clinger? What if I forget to wear pants and show up in my undies?

Listen up. Everyone has thoughts like these at one time or another. Even me. In fact, I've learned that most people that excel at social media are introverts. It feels safer to interact and be open with others online in the comfort of my own isolation. Am I right, fellow introverts? Ha. So, with Craftcation right around the corner I thought it would be great to offer up some tips for conferences that will help you work the room and have fun doing it. 

1. Nobody cares about you. :: What I mean by this is that everyone is too focused on their own s--t to notice whether your biz card looks amateurish and your socks don't match. Don't worry about people judging you because they will probably be too busy judging themselves. Once you really internalize that, it will be incredibly freeing. People are not watching your every move. A word about hygiene: The one thing everyone will notice is your odor. Take a shower and pop a breath mint. I always have a pack of gum, so come and find me if you are in a bind. Unless it's my last piece, then you're on your own.

2. Everybody wants a friend. :: People are there to network, so DON'T feel embarrassed to introduce yourself. If someone walked up to you and introduced themselves, that would make you feel pretty good, right? Let that sink in. People want to meet you. They didn't pay all that money just to take an email marketing workshop. If that's all they wanted they would have saved some cash and taken a class on CreativeLive. People are there to meet you. Yes, you.

3. Have an opening line. :: How did a crafty blogger like you end up in a place like this? OK, not that one. "I'm really excited about the block printing workshop with Lisa Solomon. Which workshops did you sign up for?" Keep it positive. Don't open with how bad traffic was and that your room sucks. Your mom was right, nobody likes a Negative Nelly. Complaining can be fun, especially if you have a good sense of humor. However, connecting with someone for the first time over something negative will leave a bad first impression. If you have a few go-to opening lines in your arsenal, you will feel more confident about approaching people.

4. Plan an exit strategy. :: "I don't want to keep you. Let's talk later." It is important to spend time speaking with a variety of people. Sometimes you will find yourself talking to someone for way too long. Having a pre-planned exit strategy will help you get out of there quickly. You could be having the time of your life with talking with one person, but you can reconnect with them later. Be respectful of time for yourself and others. 

5. Use social media ahead of time. :: Look up the hashtag for the particular conference you will be attending. See who else will be there and start connecting. Use the hashtag in a social media post to let everyone know you will be there. A word about following people: Just because someone doesn't follow you back doesn't mean they hate your guts, so just relax. Maybe they want to get to know you first, or maybe they will never follow you. Who cares? The point is to make a few connections ahead of time so you will feel more comfortable when you arrive.

6. Find me for a hug or a high five. :: If none of these tips work and you want to run for the hills, find me. I will have candy in my purse and embarrassing photos on my phone that will instantly make you feel better about your life choices. I want to meet you. 

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