The International Students For Liberty Conference brings together hundreds of student leaders from around the world for a weekend full of talks, events, and networking. It’s a unique and wonderful experience—but it can also be intimidating, especially for introverts.
It doesn’t have to be that way. A little planning and preparation go a long way to turn what could be an overwhelming experience into an extremely rewarding weekend.
Here are six techniques for introverts to help you enjoy all the conference has to offer without collapsing from exhaustion:
1. Make reasonable, achievable goals.
You know your habits at social events. Make goals to push yourself, just a little bit.
Are you someone who stares uncomfortably at your phone before a panel starts? Make a goal to speak to at least three new people, or go talk with one of the speakers you admire when the panel’s finished.
Do you tend to leave networking events early, or skip them altogether? Resolve to stay for at least an hour.
You don’t need to transform into an extrovert overnight, but you will see rewards if you step a little bit outside your comfort zone.
2. Practice your elevator pitch.
Have a 20-second explanation of who you are and why you’re at ISFLC prepared. Practice it before the conference so you can say it smoothly and naturally.
Once you have this down, you won’t feel panicked when you’re inevitably asked who you are, why you’re at ISFLC, and what you plan to do after college.
3. Ask questions.
Starting conversations with strangers can be hard. Luckily, you already have a lot in common with other attendees at ISFLC. Here are some questions you can ask to get a conversation going:
- Have you been to ISFLC before?
- Where do you go to school?
- Read any good books lately?
4. Bring a friend.
ISFLC is a great way to meet new people with shared interests, but sometimes you need a buddy to relieve stress. Invite a friend to ISFLC and strategize with them to achieve your networking goals.
5. Embrace the awkwardness.
Not all of your attempts to be social and friendly will be successful. You might trip over your words. The person you’re trying to meet may not want to talk. It’ll be awkward.
Try to embrace that awkward feeling. Really, a few moments of awkwardness is as bad as it gets. If you’re not feeling a little awkward sometimes, then you’re probably not venturing far enough outside your comfort zone.
6. Pace yourself.
You don’t need to follow all of this advice, or try all of it at once. Start small and do more as you become more comfortable. Remember that it’s okay to take a break from the conference if you need to recharge.
For more networking advice for introverts, by introverts, Professor Bill Glod’s advice for networking at academic conferences is also good advice for networking at student conferences like ISFLC.