I had the great opportunity to attend the Crossroads Writer’s Conference this past weekend. It was a great experience and I’m so glad that I went. But I got to tell you, a day or so beforehand I was dreading going. Not because I didn’t think the speakers were good or I was worried I wouldn’t learn anything from the classes.
I was dreading the conference because I am a strong introvert and therefore get quite nervous around new people, especially people I am expected to talk to for a purpose such as networking.
So yeah, cocktail parties … my worst nightmare. Did I mention I signed up for the package that included a cocktail party?
But the thing is, I really wanted to attend the conference and knew I needed to go. So after pacing around nervously for a while, I sent out a little plea on Facebook Friday afternoon asking for some support. Well, ask and you shall receive people, cause I got not only encouragement, but some great advice from The Baddest Mother Ever. She reminded my introverted self to start off by asking questions of other people about themselves and the conference. Brilliant. Of course this would work. Because here’s the truth about making impressions on people.
I’ve read this advice again and again. It’s based on a simple truth about people. Everyone wants to feel valued and respected. Listen to a person, make them feel important and they will be pleased to meet you. This rang true in my weekend networking no matter whether I was talking to the newest newbie or well published authors. All people just want to be known and appreciated.
And I can do that. Thinking about it this way made even networking seem fun and enjoyable to this shy girl. Because here’s another truth I believe in.
All people are worthy of my respect and attention.
Everyone has a valuable story that I can learn from and be blessed by.
I met so many great people this weekend. So many different kinds of people. Across the board I loved hearing their backgrounds, stories, and interests. I loved how they made me laugh. I stopped caring at some point if I was practicing my pitch or meeting someone who could get me something and just started enjoying being with the people around me. It turned out that was the best gift of all. But, community always is, isn’t it?
So thanks to those who encouraged me to take a step out of my shell and more thanks to those who turned networking into community. I’m not sure I’m a cocktail party convert yet, but there’s always next year’s Crossroads to find out.
Got any more advice for meeting turning strangers into friends? Feel free to share your thoughts below.