10 Tips To Get The Most Out Of Conferences, Even If You’re Shy

How to have fun at conferences

It’s that time of the year again… the one where we get all dressed up, hop on a plane, and attend live events and conferences!

I’m attending Marie Forleo’s sold out Rich, Happy, and Hot Live event in New York City… closely followed by BlogWorld Expo in Las Vegas, where I’ll be speaking about getting your blog to stand out from the crowd.

If you want to come out and meet me and thousands of other bloggers there’s still time to get into BlogWorld Expo.

Live Events and Online Business Owners…

You know what that means, right? Sweaty palms, rummaging through your bag or pockets to find your business cards, and feeling like you’re too shy to go to these in person things. Hiding out in the bathroom, or drinking a little too much to “take the edge off”?

Eeks! Hold up, there’s a better way to attend live events and conferences so you actually enjoy yourself, and form lasting connections with the other attendees.

Here are my 10 tips to make the most of the events you’re attending! After all, if you’re taking time away from your business to attend, you’d better make the most of it.

1. Permission To Be Outgoing

Let’s face it, if you run an online business and do the majority of your work through the Internet… you probably don’t consider yourself to be the most outgoing person on the planet.

I hereby give you permission to be as outgoing as you want to be! No need to tell yourself stories about why you’re shy, or not good with people. You can be, it’s just a choice.

2. Listen Up

It’s easy to get distracted, and think about what you’re going to say after the person you’re talking to finishes their point. Don’t let your mind take over!

Instead, focus on what the people you’re with are saying, and chime in without pre-rehearsing what you’re going to say in your head. I promise it will come out just as smart, but you’ll have the added benefit of knowing exactly what people are saying, and giving them your full undivided attention. People will notice!

3. Permission To Introduce Yourself

If you spot someone you’ve been stalking online admiring online, you have my full permission to go up and introduce yourself. Don’t interrupt if they’re already having a conversation, but wait for your chance to say hi.

I promise this person is not going to think you’re weird for going up and introducing yourself. Just start with “Hi, my name is ___” and go from there.

You’ll feel so much better after you introduce yourself, and you won’t go home regretting that you didn’t talk to this person.

4. Bring Your Contact Info & Business Cards

Business cards: some people love them, some people hate them. Either way, you’ll want to have an easy way to keep in touch with people after the conference.

Be prepared to swap contact information quickly, since things move fast and you might just meet someone between sessions and need to jet. I recommend making a note about the person on the back of their card so you remember who they are when you get home!

5. Be With The People You’re With (They May Be “Big” Next Year!)

This one’s a doozy so pay attention. It’s easy to think that you should be trying to schmooze with all the big shots when you go to a conference. But here’s the thing: that “nobody” that you met in the hallway is just as likely to become a “somebody” in the next year or two.

If you’re with a group of people, make the most of this moment and really engage with them. Enjoy your time with them, get to know them, and don’t stress about being at “the wrong table” or “with the wrong crowd”.

Your attitude decides whether you’re making the most of the conference or not, so choose to make your new friends the best people to hang out with!

6. Wear Comfortable Shoes & Layers

This might be more applicable to the ladies out there, but I think it’s good advice no matter what conference you’re going to. You’re likely going to be walking a lot, so come prepared.

Likewise, there might be fluctuations in temperature from room to room, so bring layers and stay comfortable!

7. Bring Snacks and Water

While most venues will have options for buying snacks and drinks, it’s a good idea to carry some sustenance in your backpack or purse. Especially if the conference or event times run long, and you expect long lines at restaurants or food vendors.

I have a full post on how to stay healthy and pack food for conferences here, written specifically for SXSW.

8. Take Notes To Get The Most of The Sessions

In case you haven’t noticed, I’m a bit of a keener. I love being a goody-two-shoes and doing my homework, so it comes as no surprise that I like to take notes at conferences and events.

It’s easy to blow off a session at a conference because you feel like you know this stuff already. Except that every single speaker has a wealth of information to share, and you will be surprised what you can learn when you go in there with an open mind and a pen to paper.

The key is then to go home and implement – that’s when those ideas become truly valuable.

9. Take Photos

Maybe it’s the sentimentalist in me, but I love looking back at conference photos. There’s just something about taking a snapshot of yourself and then looking back to see how things have changed.

This is especially useful because a lot of us only know each other through the Internet, so getting photos together with your new found friends is a great way to make some new memories together (in person)!

10. Have Fun & Do Something You Wouldn’t Normally Do

Even though I’ve been recommending that you go in prepared, take notes, and mingle… I want you to keep the fun in mind! Don’t get so focused you miss out on opportunities to try something new, or hang out with different people.

Having fun at events ensures you’ll want to go back, and it also helps you remember all that good old fashioned learning you did.

So say yes to that party invite, sing your heart out at karaoke, attend a talk outside your niche, and say hi to a stranger!

Most of all: have fun!

Photo of Nathalie smiling

I’m the founder of a tech startup called AccessAlly, a powerful course and membership platform for coaching industry leaders.

I’m also the creator of the free 30 Day List Building Challenge:

Logo for 30 Day List Building Challenge

Digital + physical books to help you create and sell your course like a pro:

Pre-Sell Your Online Course and Course Idea Planner Book Covers

Get my insights and stories without the influence of a social media algorithm.

Photo of Nathalie smiling