Last week I wrote about being awkward and attending conference. I am now back from the conference and thought I would report back on how I did with the social aspect.
When I arrived at the conference and headed into the keynote speaker, I hovered a bit while talking to someone I knew while waiting to see who was arriving and where they were sitting. I use the same strategy when I attend our all day staff development day for work. It’s always a mistake to sit and just go with the luck of the draw with who sits next to you. I can be a disaster. I did resist the impulse to go sit with the people from my library system, but it didn’t matter as I didn’t really talk to the handful of people who sat at my table. After the keynote, I attended the welcome reception. I found my friend from my branch and mostly talked to her and her husband, but I did venture over to talk to the conference chair who I know from working on the committee in the past. I did not succeed in mingling more than that.
The next morning I was up early to work the registration table. It gives me the opportunity to see everyone as they check in, but not an opportunity to really talk to people. I did have a short conversation with a couple of the people working with me and found a new coffee place to try while in town. Most of the rest of the day was spent in sessions and didn’t leave a lot of time to talk to people. I did chat with someone I know from previous conferences while in line at the bar and someone I have talked to via email about a project I’m working on. My pub quiz team was full of people I already knew.
Not much to say about the last day. Someone I worked with on a statewide committee years ago happened to sit at my table at the closing keynote and we said hello. That was about it.
I didn’t talk to anyone who could have any impact on my career. There were several CEO’s there, but never the opportunity to say more than hello as we walked past each other. I did better about talking to people I met before but didn’t really make an effort to meet new people. I have an even bigger challenge with this next month when I go to a national conference in DC. It will be harder to only talk to people with whom I already have a connection. It’s either reach out or stay quiet.