|Just be glad, y'know, it's Bond|
and not Game of Thrones.
(from Fandom Base at cheezburger.com)
I've written a bit on your first time at an NCRA convention before, but I didn't really address the social issue as much as I will do so now. This post, might I say, is NOT for the person who has no problems in new social situations. If you're naturally gregarious, extroverted, chatty, what have you, this post will seem like a big ol' DUH!! However, for some of us (many more than you'd think), the social aspect of conventions is the most intimidating or exhausting. If you have some tips, let us know in the comments! Here's some things that have helped me:
*When you think, "I don't KNOW anybody!": Let me fill you in on a secret: Nor does anyone else. It SEEMS like everyone's in a little conversation group but you. It SEEMS like everyone's mingling and having a good time, but I guarantee you most of those people have just met. Yes, there are some of us who have gone to every conference event since Benjamin Franklin discovered serial ports (citation needed), but those aren't the majority. Give yourself permission to stand to the side during the Thursday evening reception or the Saturday night party and just observe. Look for loosely-knit groups of two or three--groups where they're not gathered in a tight circle but have a circle that's slightly "open," according to their body language -- and introduce yourself. Heck, just say it. "I'm new to these things, and I don't know anyone. I'm -state your name- and I'm a -profession- from -your town-. What do you do?" That line works with individuals just as well. Lather, rinse, repeat.
*Where do I sit?: Lunch time, and you don't have someone to sit with. I like to play Table Roulette. Sit at an EMPTY table that's in the middle of things and see who sits with you. Better yet: join the board and you get a reserved table. Therefore, you don't have to worry. And by the way, if anyone asks you if you want to join them for dinner, you say YES!
*When crowds aren't your thing: I agree. They're not my thing either. Don't room with anyone. I RARELY room with anyone to whom I'm not married. (Good advice.) Not because I don't LIKE my colleagues; I just gotta have some quiet every day and in large doses. Do attend the receptions, but let yourself skip out when it feels time.
*When you think, "I'm such a newbie.": We all were students and new reporters at one time. I wish I could've come to all these conventions when I was a new reporter -- and I wish I read this blog post at that time. But since I don't have a TARDIS, I'll tell it to you students/newbies. Observe and see who seems to be in charge, who seems to have their $h!+ together (looks can be deceiving), who embodies LOVE for this profession. Introduce yourself to them in the manner I described a few paragraphs above. If you're feeling pretty bold, ask them to introduce you around. These are the people who want this profession to succeed and, by extension, want YOU to succeed.
*DON'T hang around anyone who spends more than 50% of their time complaining. If you have to get up and switch seats, do so. I'm serious. Yes, they are loved by God and they are human beings deserving of dignity and compassion, but they are TOXIC. You're here to be pulled up, not dragged down. Needless to say, don't be a complainer yourself. THANK the people in charge of putting the convention or conference together. If you've never been involved in the planning of one of these things, YOU HAVE NO IDEA of the challenges therein. Really. Lift others up, and you find yourself lifted up as well. This is not being a Pollyanna pie-in-the-sky; it's fact. If you have serious problems about something, speak to someone who can do something about it and/or volunteer to do something about it yourself. Sound like I'm on a soapbox? I am.
In conclusion, if you're feeling a bit of social anxiety, it's not just you. Or at least I hope it's not just me. :) See you soon!