I recently posted about developing a system for yourself to help you socialize and network at conferences.
Scott Buchanan responded on Twitter, saying, “My difficulty with this at conferences is figuring out whom to talk to. I don't feel awkward in conversation once engaged, but unless the other person is just completely doing nothing, which is rare, I have a hard time starting a conversation.”
That’s a really good point and a common obstacle for people. I think it’s important to remember that when we’re at conferences, everybody is there to network.
There will be scenarios where people aren't welcoming. Sometimes, it’s going to happen. You’ll pop into a conversation and feel awkward or try to engage with someone who seems resistant. But you just have to keep going and not let it slow you down.
That’s the exception. For the most part, if you see someone or a group of people, just jump right in and introduce yourself. Most people will be receptive. Don’t let the awkwardness stop you. Just stick to your system. Have your goal in mind, have your questions prepared, build relationships, and shake off any discomfort that comes along.