Awkward Tater Goes to Conference

I leave tomorrow for a conference for work. This is the conference I’ve gone to every year for a long time. I spent years on the planning committee for the conference. I used to be the guy in charge of writing the pub quiz every year until I gave it up when I had other official duties and lost it forever. I’m still an active member of the steering committee for one of the divisions. I hope to be back on the conference committee next year. All of the above means that I will know plenty of people at the conference. You would think that would make it easier for me to mix and mingle at the social events. If you think that, you would be wrong. I am still a socially awkward introvert and it’s still not cool.

I’ve never been good at the social part of the conference. I’m terrible at using the conference as a networking opportunity. I did better at the conference I attended in the fall. I introduced myself to the new CEOs of two local library systems. I ate breakfast at a table with someone from Utah and contacted her later for information we had discussed. Maybe I can carry that over to this conference. It would be especially useful as I am getting closer to actively seeking employment elsewhere. It would be nice if people on the interview panels remembered me as the guy they met and liked and not the weird guy who stands quietly in the corner at the reception. It’s never good to be the weird guy standing quietly alone in the corner. It would also be nice for leaders at my current place of work to see that I am known and liked by others in the profession. Maybe it will make them care more about the possibility of losing me. I doubt it, but a man can dream.

So, tomorrow when the keynote is over and the welcome reception starts, I will make an effort to not just grab some food and look for people I know. I will make an effort to meet new people without being weird and awkward about it. I will do the same at the other social activities. Look for my post next week where I will talk about my failure to do this.

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You Like Me Better Online

Actually, it’s more likely that you don’t like me at all, but if you like me at all, you probably like the online me more. I’m much better in a non face to face interaction. I’m also much better inside my own head(it’s a scary place). This blog post sounded much better in my head than it will ever sound in print and will be much better in print than it would ever be in person. Unless I know you well, I will struggle to do something as simple as engage in small talk. I’m horrible at parties and will usually be found in a corner somewhere avoiding the potential small talk opportunities. Online I can talk to strangers, make jokes, engage in lively discussion about a variety of topics and be the type of person some people might actually like. In person, I still suffer from the same self-esteem driven shyness that I suffered from in high school. It’s a little better these days, but I still feel awkward in a lot of social situations. This also carries over to work related things as well. I go to conferences and then can’t bring myself to do the “networking” expected of conference attendees. I’m horrible in job interviews. I don’t like to speak in trainings and meetings unless I have to, even though I have a lot of valuable input(I am a genius after all). I know there is a lot to dislike about the Internet, but it has been a great thing for people like me. I’m much better when you can’t see me(and it’s better for your eyes).