Because I’m getting ready to attend the LMA, Legal Marketing Association, Annual Conference next week, and presenting at the ALA, Association of Legal Administrators, conference the week after, I decided to share a few thoughts for those who would rather have a root canal, or maybe even 10 of them, instead of the pain of networking.
I understand there are people who aren’t wired like I am most days, which is that I look forward to making contact with people I pass in the hallway, in sessions, at networking events, in the exhibition hall, at dinner and just about everywhere else except my room when I’m ready to put my tired head down on the pillow after what is typically a 19-hour day at these events.
There’s nothing wrong with me, and there’s definitely nothing wrong with you if that’s not in your DNA. We are who we are, right?
What I do know is that there are a few simple steps I can suggest to help make you more comfortable. I’ve written about these before, but have brushed off the dust, and have updated them for you here.
YOU HAVE MY PERMISSION TO DO THIS ONE THING
If you aren’t feeling comfortable at an event where you see me, I want you, I invite you, I IMPLORE you to walk right up to me, and say something like this:
“Hi. Are you that oddly-wired Nancy Myrland who wrote that blog post?”
After I get over the shock that someone actually read this blog post, I know I will do my best to help you feel comfortable, and will be happy to introduce you to whomever I am talking to at the time.
THEN IT’S TIME TO MOVE TO THE NEXT STEP
Now that we have that 1st encounter taken care of, the followup can be as simple as:
“This is my 1st conference. I just wanted to say hi.”
“I just wanted to let you know that you look much older in person,” at which time I meet actually have to smack you!
Or, the simplest of greetings:
“Hi Nancy. I’m Bill. How are you?”
Of course, if your name isn’t Bill, I would suggest using your own name, but that’s just me.
I PROMISE I WILL DO THIS FOR YOU
Perhaps you’re okay with this:
“Hi Nancy. I recently read your blog post about how to feel comfortable networking at this conference. Can I really take you up on your offer to help me meet a few other people?”
It’s true. I will be happy to help you meet a few other people, and I know many others who would be happy to do the same thing.
(Ahem, “others,” please read my note to you below.)
Perhaps this is what you really want to say, and I’m okay with it if you do…no, really.
“Hi Nancy. I think you’re kind of a goof, but I wanted to say hi anyhow.”
Although I’d prefer not to hear that last one, go ahead as maybe I can show you I’m not a goof at all.
MY COMMITMENT TO YOU
Trust me, I know all of the suggestions above are often easier said than done. I also know that being an introvert, or feeling uncomfortable networking, which are not necessarily the same thing, are very real feelings.
But I also know that:
- I don’t bite.
- I’ve been a first-time attendee at a lot of events and conferences.
- I have my introverted, not-up-to-meeting-the-throngs-of-attendees moments.
- I will welcome you with open arms, which can sometimes even mean a big hug. (I don’t do small hugs.)
- I will do my best to help you meet at least one more person if you’d like.
- I’m a pretty normal person, and exceedingly boring on most days, so I welcome human interaction to brighten my day.
HEADS UP VETERAN CONFERENCE ATTENDEES…I NEED YOU!
I know there are LMA members who will join me in making this offer to anyone who wants to meet you, right? You know who you are, and so do I! My LMA friends and acquaintances are some of the kindest people I know. I often say they are angels in my life because of the support, both personal and professional, they have given me over the years.
Veterans, please feel free to comment below to help others meet you here and at the conference.
If you’re new to the conference, let us know below because we like to get to know new people too.
Starting with the first LMA conference I attended as an in-house legal marketer in 1998, these conferences have been a primary source of education, as well as personal and professional fulfillment. I hope they become valuable to you too.
I look forward to seeing, meeting and getting to know as many of you as possible!
I’M READY FOR YOU, OKAY? LET ME HELP. PLEASE TAKE ME UP ON THE OFFERS ABOVE.
In case you missed it, here’s another post dedicated to this year’s conference: #LMA13: It’s Almost Time!