This weekend, about a billion people (ok, not that many, but it feels like it if you’ve ever been in the midst of the throng that is ASAE’s Annual Meeting before) and I will descend on Salt Lake City for fun and booze and networking and, of course, learning. It’s amazing to be among thousands of your association people and caught up in the excitement of the whole thing. It’s also totally overwhelming if you’re an introvert.
If you meet me there or have seen me at other conferences, you might be like “you’re not an introvert!” because that’s also kind of true–sometimes I’m not an introvert and I can chameleon into extrovert for a few hours or even a few days…as I’m sure many other introverts can. But at some point, that carriage turns back into a pumpkin and you just can’t anymore. Or at least speaking for myself, that’s how events work for me. Huge events like this? I’ve only been to Annual once and I’m still shell-shocked from the hugeness of it…but I’m ready to go and figured I’d share some of my introvert tricks for navigating a huge conference in case you find yourself wanting to slide into a bathroom stall in Salt Lake City and just never come out again.
- Baths–I’m going to start with my favorite re-charge tactic while at a conference…and I’ll also add that I’m not a germophobe, so if you are one, you might want to just skip this tip. Or modify it to shower. I personally am obsessed with hotel bathtubs, which can basically cure any conference ill from sore feet to jangled nerves to overstimulation to defrosting from frigid conference rooms to just general dirt. I take them every night before I go to sleep when I’m at a conference and sometimes, if I’m extra frozen or my feet are dying mid-day, I take one between sessions or at lunchtime. Add a book, a bath bomb or travel candle if by some chance you have packed one, and–bam–instant fix for pretty much any conference ill, especially over socializing.
- Room breaks–if you can’t stomach the bath idea above, just hibernating in your room for a few minutes can help you chill and face the crowds again when you’re feeling on the verge of being peopled-out. Even if it’s just to be in a room where people aren’t for just a few minutes between sessions or before heading out for the evening, even 15 or 30 minutes of being in your own space can help you recharge to face the masses again.
- White noise and/or meditation apps–I discovered this when I was at a conference a few weeks ago and was trying to work at a table next to someone who was determined to have the longest, loudest phone conversation ever. If you can do music, then that probably does the same thing, but if noise just sets your already taxed senses on edge like it does mine, try a white noise app like Relax Melodies–you can make your own mix of white/relaxation noises and drown out the world for a few minutes. If you need more relaxation than bird and water sounds can provide, try a guided meditation app like the Mindfulness App.
- Audiobooks–if you really need to just escape for a while, there’s no better place to go than into an audiobook, IMO. Audible is my everything, whether I’m listening to a full book or their awesome free Channels thing that offers free short stories, Harvard Business Review articles and more. I’m personally listening to Falling right now and love it…but I’ll leave you to your own audiobook tastes for this one.
- Room service–eating out with friends or colleagues is super fun, but if you are just maxed out on people/crowds and want to just curl up in bed with a cheeseburger…do! Nothing better than a room service cheeseburger…especially when eaten in the bathtub while listening to an audiobook!!
If you’re in SLC, please come say hi–I’ll be the one wearing headphones and a bathrobe. 🙂 Actually, that’s not true–I’ll be out in full force and also taking part in some of the livestreams coming from the conference with some super fun association people, so even if you’re not going to be there, follow #ASAE16 on Twitter and Visit Salt Lake’s Twitter and Facebook accounts to enjoy some of the fun from afar…like maybe your own bathtub at home.