As an introvert, walking into the reception area at the beginning of a conference by myself is akin to the first day of class at a new school.
Everyone else is talking and laughing with each other while I feel awkward and practically incapable of making small talk. It’s a huge effort to put on a smile, make eye contact with someone and say, “Good morning!” (Ack! what do I say now??)
But guess what? Showing up at the Wisdom 2.0 Conference last week was different. Really different.
I walked in with purpose, a puzzle to solve. A mission.
It was 9am. Tami Simon, founder of Sounds True had graciously agreed to an interview at 10am and I needed to find a quiet place to set up microphone and laptop (gotta love a portable studio!)
Distraction can be a good thing.
As much as I fantasize about being cool, calm and collected in situations like this, once the ole insecurity engine gets revving, it’s like trying to stop a school bus going down Lombard Street in San Francisco with no brakes.
Convincing myself that it’s ‘all good’ doesn’t work, jumping in with a fake-it-til-you-make-it attitude doesn’t feel so good, and giving in to my inner wallflower is just too painful to think about.
There’s another technique especially for situations like this. It’s a form of distraction based on this self-awareness: I like having something to do when I’m out and about in the world.
I loved being a bicycle guide in Italy (rather than just backpacking around) because I felt like I belonged, like I had a reason for being there.
I enjoy volunteering at events because I feel useful and the work gives a place to funnel nervous energy.
For this conference, my goal was to do or setup at least five interviews for the Natural Professional podcast (to be released soon!).
Ahhhh, what a relief! There were all kinds of things to figure out: where/when to do the interviews, which speakers to ask and how to approach them. Between figuring this out and the actual presentations, my head didn’t have a chance to spin out.
[Obviously, there was another Huge benefit to this exercise—namely, a huge boon for my biz in the form of awesome interviews.]
Maybe you’re one of those people who don’t need these kinds of social crutches. Maybe someday I won’t. But now, I still find them helpful.
If you have a pattern of get thrown off kilter in a certain kind of situation, consider taking charge of your experience in a way that you haven’t before.
-How can you show up in your element?
-How can you make the experience even more interesting?
-How can you benefit your biz more than handing out a few biz cards
Go forth! Conquer! Have fun!