• Where to begin if worry sets in
• Fake it until you make it
I realize not everyone is as extroverted as myself and I appreciate our differences. I have traveled alone quite a bit (before cell phones) - and learned to strike up conversations with people along my journeys.
Making these small connections adds adventure to my life. I ask questions and actively listen to other's stories and if asked, I will share parts of my life with them.
Another trick is to either be the first or last person to sit at a table during dining keynotes. Sitting first allows others to come to you, while sitting last allows you to sit in a new group if you sat with others previously. This allows for a continual mix into the attendees and mingling with more people. If someone chooses to sit with you more than once, realize that they have enjoyed your previous time together and a relationship is being built.
In September of 2016, I traveled to my first Upper Midwest CVB conference. Part of the events included a dine around. I was slightly nervous, as I didn’t know anyone and yet most knew of our company. I chose the restaurant I really wanted to eat at, paying no attention to whether I knew anyone, even a little bit. When I arrived at the restaurant, I sat alone as I was one of the first ones to enter. It seemed groups were coming to dinner together. But when I was asked to join a table, I gladly did. More often than not, no one is left behind or alone, as networking events are just that - meant for meeting new people. But if by chance, you arrive later than you had planned or do end up feeling like the odd one out, do not hesitate to introduce yourself and ask to take an empty chair. You will be glad you did!
I learned a lot about Nebraska that evening, and as dinner finished, I was invited to a speakeasy for a nightcap with the group. What an adventure! We explored the city in search of our ‘secret’ destination, enjoyed the atmosphere, cocktails, and conversation once there, and I made real connections and relationships beyond the meeting. These personal connections go a long way in creating opportunities to learn, grow, and network - it is all adventure.