By guest contributor Erin Loechner.
I've been to millions of conferences (exaggeration), and Alt is, hands down, the conference that draws in the friendliest folk (not an exaggeration). Looking for a mentor who shares the same affinity for stripes as you do? She's at Alt. Craving someone to copy edit your new portfolio when you head home? He's in the ballroom (without the revolver, lucky for you). Alt is filled to the brim with creative, kind, and super friendly faces. Chances are, you'll want to connect with a few of them. Here's how:
1) Get pre-social
Before you head to Salt Lake City, send out a Tweet or update your Facebook status announcing that you'll be attending Alt. Ask your followers/friends if they know of anyone else planning to attend the conference. You'll most likely find someone else as nervous as you are to attend. That's the first thing you've got in common. Build on that and make plans to meet each other on day one.
2) Have an eagle-eye
Look around the room--do you spot someone with the same neon day planner you have in your bag? See a stylish gal that's rocking your favorite patterned pants? Introduce yourself! If you have the same taste in footwear, why shouldn't you share other similarities?
3) Fake it
Sure, you might be so nervous that you've pitted out 4 shirts - and it's only 10am. Put on that dashing smile and pretend you're the most confident girl in the room. Because everyone else; they've likely pitted out 5 shirts.
4) Share your toys
Stash a surplus of gum, mints, or spare writing utensils in your handbag. Offer them to an attendee who looks lonely, and you have an instant icebreaker!
5) Look up
When you're feeling self-conscious, it's easy to keep your eyes glued to your phone, notes, or conference schedule. Resist the urge and make yourself as approachable as possible. Who knows - your future best friend might have passed you by as you were checking your email for the 6th time in the hallway.
6) Get close
When your favorite panel rolls around, ask to sit next to someone. You can then practice #3 (fake it) and #4 (sharing your toys) until you get a conversation going.
7) Stay in touch
Whomever you find yourself chatting with, ask them what other panels they plan to attend, or if they have anyone to sit with during lunch. Make plans to re-connect later and swap notes about everything you've learned!
8) Strike it up
Need a foolproof way to get a convo going? Try any of these:
- "Where are you from?"
- "What's your blog?"
- "Learned anything interesting today?"
- "Is this your first conference?"
- "Are you enjoying yourself?"
9) If all else fails... come find me
I'd love to get to know you, I'm sure of it.
Happy conferencing friends!