This year has been one of constant change and interesting experiences. The most recent of these found me at a conference where I only knew my coworkers who also attended. It was a regional conference in the South, where until this year I’d never lived. So it wasn’t a big surprise that I only knew one other person when I showed up.
While I’m something of a conference savant now, there was a time in the not-so-distant past when I never hit the conference circuit. So I can remember pretty vividly what it was like to show up to a conference and not know anyone, have no one know anything about me and to navigate that. Being sort of introverted, I have to work myself up for these things to begin with and so, it’s been nice over the past few years to end up at things where I have a crew of folks that not only know who I am, but understand my speaking and interaction style. That sort of comfortability makes it easier to navigate the events and makes me more inclined to engage and participate.
The best part of being at an event where you don’t know anyone is an opportunity. I’ve deliberately sat at tables without my coworkers, to get to know people from other places. All seems quaint, but I’ve always remembered being that person who didn’t know anybody and feeling weird about going up to people and introducing myself.
While it’s always to see your friends — new and old — it’s also nice to step outside of your comfort zone and explore new places, new themes and new experiences.