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It’s true.  For the next two weeks I’ll be in Europe as part of my scientist duties.  I’ll be meeting with 7 researchers in 3 countries over 11 days (including travel).  It’s really a traveler’s nightmare, because we’ll be using some major form of transportation (plane or train) nearly every day of the trip in order to see everyone.  So there really won’t be much free time, if any, to see the sights, unless you count looking out the train window (I do) or eating in Pubs (yes, definitely).

Then, in October, I’m heading to Las Vegas for BlogWorld.  This was a difficult decision, believe it or not, because I wasn’t sure what I’d get out of attending.  In one sense, I’m excited to attend a conference in my new profession as a blogger.  I still have trouble saying that to people: I’m a blogger.  Maybe because among the people I know in “real life,” most of them don’t read blogs.  But I am a blogger, I enjoy it immensely, and I think attending the conference helps to make this whole transition feel real.

On the other hand, I’ve mentioned before that I’m naturally introverted.  Put me in a room full of strangers and I get very uncomfortable.  I’ve never attend a networking “event,” but I imagine it’s a lot like speed dating.  Not my thing.  I normally prefer to develop relationships slowly, to actually become friends.  I mean, if you don’t like someone well enough to be their friend, should you really be pursing “business”?

So why am I going?  First, Naomi Dunford begged me to go.  Well, maybe not me specifically, but I’m a huge fan of Naomi and she’s darn persuasive, even when she’s talking in general.  But I still hestiated.

Then, my Australian friend Annabel Candy, always full of pluck, put out a request to fans to help send her to BlogWorld.  Incredibly ambitious, but she did it.  How could I not capitalize on this opportunity to connect with someone who’s already passed the friend litmus test?  So I got a ticket with frequent flyer miles and somehow convinced my husband to float me one more trip.

(I did promise to write a post saying how amazing he is–I hope this sentence counts–love you, honey!)

I’m still a little nervous about finding people to connect with.  In my worst dreams, I imagine myself just wandering around Vegas, sad and lonely.  And that’s precisely why I think this is a good idea.  I need to show my inner bully I can do this.  Fortunately, there’s already advice out there for introverts like me on how to make the most of large events.  For example, she may not realize it, but having Annabel there is a big help:

Bring a friend who you can include in conversation and take some of the pressure off. If your friend is an extrovert, they may help with starting discussions, too.

But I definitely want to meet new people too.  So if you’re going to be at BlogWorld, drop me a line and let’s find a way to chat. I’m honestly looking forward to it.

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5 Responses to Next Stop? The World

  1. Hi Jen, this is fantastic! I’m so glad you’re going – it’s going to blow out minds. Yes, I think we will get peopled out and overwhelmed at times. I definitely think we need to sneak off for a quiet cup of tea at some point. But it’s a three day thing, we have to get out there and rub shoulders with the masses too, know that everyone else is probably feeling shy and awkward too, and make sure we have fun.

    I get very panicky at these things (and so far the biggest I’ve been to is 150 people!) and tend to look desperately for people to talk to and worry that I’ll be alone. Yesterday I pictured myself standing all alone at the conference and decided when it happens that I’m just going to stand there and enjoy observing everyone else and not worry about it:)

    PS. Your husband is a marvel. Please tell him me and all the koalas and kangaroos in Australia are applauding his excellence in all fields:)

    • I can’t tell you how reassuring it is to know you get panicked at these things too. Partners in networking and tea drinking then. But you’re right, beyond that is the value in just observing. A much better way to reframe that situation.

      I’ll be in touch when I get back from Europe. All these trips make the days go by fast!

  2. You don’t need to show your inner bully; just be you. You have a pretty dedicated blog following, which means people are genuinely interested in what you have to say. SO SPEAK. OR don’t speak; listen…but be an active listener. Engage in conversations; and learn. I’m actually thinking of meeting you out there, but based on business obligations, it will be a last minute decision.

    Also remember, natural extroverts get just as nervous as introverts when going to something ‘new’. Extroverts put a lot of pressure on themselves to ALWAYS be ‘extroverted’, to be liked. “Other people’s opinions matter”.

    You have the balance – just be you and remember that everyone else is just as nervous (if not more so) than you are. Most people don’t have your background, your knowledge base, and frankly – probably don’t have as many interesting things to SAY or converse about. You’re going to have just gotten back from EUROPE, you have 3 jobs, a child, etc. You have far more going on in your life that is interesting than many of these folks. If people are attending a conference, one can infer that a large majority of them are pro-active learners. They will recognize they can learn a lot from you and should force you to be a bit more extroverted.

    I know we’ve been labeling ourselves for hundreds of years, but perhaps its time to take away the ‘labels’. I firmly believe that labels are more of a self fulfilling prophecy than anything else. You have 1 label going into this conference and it’s the same as everyone else’s; you’re a BLOGGER. Period.

    • Jamie,
      If we were in a beer commercial, this is where I’d hug you and say, “I love you, man!” :)

      Truly, your comment was the pick-me-up I needed. Thanks for putting the word “blogger” in all caps. I love it. Maybe instead of InspirationU this should be InspirationUs?

      I love my luminaries!

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