By Wendy Badger
As a first time attende at the SCCE Compliance and Ethics Institute, I am excited to spend time with my professional peers. At the same time, I am full of trepidation and anxiety. Why? Because I am an introvert and cripplingly shy. I work tirelessly to overcome those opportunity areas and become a “situational extrovert.” But I got to thinking that maybe this is a two way street. What are some ways returning attendees can help indentify folks like me, and encourage us to come out of our introverted shells? Here are a some steps to help us meet in the middle.
1) Watch for the first timer ribbon. For those of us brave enough to wear them, it is a message to others that we might be a little overwhelmed. (Oh, the overwhelmed ribbon might be another clue.) Reach out to start a conversation; first timers won’t know the unwritten etiquette and each conference is different.
2) First timers get to sessions early to scope out the area and find our favorite spot to sit, or maybe blend into our surroundings. Maybe come early and help us find our way.
3) Because we get to sessions early (or because some of us are introverts), we are likely sitting alone at a table. Please join us.
4) Believe it or not, there are cliques. We think we are inviting or welcoming to new people, but the old friends who meet up send a bit of a vibe that their group is not accepting new members, so newbies won’t try to join an in-process conversation. Introverts find this rude and likely won’t look for an opening.
5) Review the registration list for others in your state or industry. Reach out in advance of the meeting via LinkedIn, Twitter or email.
6) Have a first timers reception or designated meeting space to take off some of the pressure. Maybe suggest meeting at the continental breakfast or expo break so you aren’t stuck in an uncomfortable dinner. If you do hit it off, there are multiple opportunities to reconnect for informal get togethers or the awards dinner.
7) Invite a newbie to your table at the awards dinner.
And those are the ideas generated from the pre-conference sessions. I am sure you have some ideas, too.